By Theresa Goodwin
Voting is underway for two of Antigua and Barbuda’s prime tourism spots which have been nominated for Best Caribbean Attraction in the 2022 USA Today Readers’ Choice Awards.
Walling’s Nature Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site Nelson’s Dockyard are currently ranked second and third in the leaderboard which reflects the public’s votes. Occupying the top spot up to last night was Aruba’s Arikok National Park.
The annual awards include the most popular places to eat, things to see, and places to go and stay in the US and around the world. The attractions are selected by a panel of travel experts who nominate their 20 favourite places and then give the public the opportunity to choose a winner.
Voting opened recently and concludes on February 25.
Established in 2018, Wallings Nature Reserve is a community-managed national park in the Wallings Forest area.
Executive Director Refica Attwood said it was an overwhelming feeling to be ranked among some of the best places around the world.
“To be placed with areas like Brimstone Hill in St Kitts and Nevis and other places in Barbados and Aruba shows that we have really put in the work to transform the space in a very short space of time and we are now rivalling other places within the region that were there years before,” Attwood said.
Over the past few years, the team at the Wallings Nature Reserve has worked to rehabilitate and mark some of the most beautiful hiking trails which pass through Antigua and Barbuda’s lush rainforest.
In late 2021, the team started a major reforestation project removing lemongrass found in the area and replacing it with a variety of fruit trees.
Meanwhile, this is the second time that Nelson’s Dockyard has been nominated for the awards, having won the Best Attraction category in 2019.
The dockyard was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2016 following the restoration of its Georgian-era marina and buildings. The complex has been in operation since the mid-18th century and features a small museum with collections detailing Antigua and Barbuda’s history.
Communication consultant Andy Liburd said the latest nomination is testament to the efforts of the hard work put in by staff at the National Parks Authority and others who support its facilities.
“Currently, we are ranked at number three and we have been climbing, so with the votes of everyone in Antigua and Barbuda we are sure that we can get to the number one spot and once again win the number one spot,” Liburd said.
Residents have 24 days left to vote. They are invited to visit the social media platforms for Nelson’s Dockyard and Wallings Nature Reserve to do so.