By Shermain Bique-Charles
Two in three residents who worked in the tourism sector and found themselves out of work due to Covid were back on the job as of April.
That’s according to Tourism Minister Charles Fernandez who is predicting that 100 percent of the industry’s staff will be back at work by December at the latest.
“That is very positive for us because we are in the midst of the summer which is the down season. This is quite good and we feel confident that we can look positively going forward at 100 percent of workers back in November and December. We are very optimistic,” he told Observer.
Meanwhile, 70 percent of the country’s hotel rooms are also back in service, according to Fernandez.
He continued that there are a great number of people who have shown interest in investment too.
“We have a lot of investors ready to start. There are a couple of properties in negotiations now. We feel confident about it,” he said.
Several resort owners used the Covid downtime to renovate and uplift their properties.
“We also did very well because the government incentivised the hotel owners so that, during Covid, all our hotels did some form of renovation, which means that our properties have a fresh new look coming into the season,” Fernandez said.
Meanwhile, for the cruise industry, Antigua’s first call is slated for July 20 with a projected 200,000 visitors expected between June and December.
“And of course, January through April will be bigger. We think 2022 is going to be bigger than 2019 which is a record year for us both in cruise and air,” he added.
The yachting sector is also expected to see a major boost this year, according to the tourism minister, with the staging of the Charter Yacht Show from December 4 to 9, the first of its kind since the pandemic.
“This is going to be very big because this will be the first one since Covid. The responses we have been receiving from the super yachts are very positive. We feel very confident going into 2022,” Fernandez added.