Antigua and Barbuda re-opens
It has been about 3 months since Antigua and Barbuda had re-opened its borders for tourists. Together with other Caribbean countries in the region, it aims to maximize the remaining months of the year to regain momentum and revitalise its tourism industry. The industry had been on a strong surge up until the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The year-end of 2019 saw its tourism figures at an all-time high. This was followed by a record performance for the sector in the first two months of 2020, right until the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic shook up the world.
Optimism in country’s tourism
Despite the magnitude of the initial damage that the pandemic has brought to the country, Dr. Dario Item remains optimistic and steadfast of its future: “Antigua and Barbuda, especially its people, has a culture of resiliency. This has been embedded in our history and the tourism department, as well as the caucus of diplomats to Europe, are positive that we are bound to exceed pre-COVID statistics in terms of tourism”, the ambassador said in an exclusive interview.
Antigua and Barbuda welcomed visitors once again in June. The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA) and the Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association have also launched the ‘Space Points’ Rewards Program which encourages its residents to support the economy by dining out.
The country has once again opened the opportunity for us to visit the never-ending coasts of the majestic Caribbean. As of writing, the country is safe for tourists to visit. According to the Embassy update, there are practically no reported active cases in the country.
Ensuring tourists and residents safety
According to Hon. Charles Henry Fernandez, Minister of Tourism & Investment, the country’s Ministry for Health, has determined it’s safe for the country to re-open its doors to visitors again. The country encouraged its would-be visitors to observe health protocols to help ensure its residents and tourists health and safety. The health guidelines aim to help ensure a safe and enjoyable vacation for its tourists and its residents.
This was a brave yet calculated move for the government of Antigua and Barbuda. The country’s leaders recognize the reliance of their economy in tourism and, at the same time, the risk of an increase in COVID-19 cases. The tourism department has come up with a comprehensive plan that approaches the re-opening with a balance of security and health protocols with only the good balance of compromise to the objective of visiting the tourist destinations of Antigua and Barbuda.
Its tourism workforce who are at the forefront of the tourism industry have been empowered to facilitate the new health and security protocols that would ensure a safe and enjoyable visit for every tourist. The regulations also foster a safer environment for Antigua and Barbuda residents. “Greeting you warmly and with a smile, even behind a mask”, this has become the fitting mantra of restaurants, resorts, and other tourist establishments across the islands.
The same hospitality, with boosted health and safety
Dr. Dario Item, highlights that Antigua and Barbuda is best known for carrying out diplomatic relations with its neighboring countries in the Americas as well as other regions of the world. “The country remains as a gracious host to its friends in North and South America, Europe and other continents. We have carried this badge of hospitality throughout the country’s existence and this trait will definitely withstand the duration and onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
How you can help
The positive outlook from Dr. Dario Item was supported and resounded by his colleagues in the European Caucus whose COVID-19 fundraising campaign continues strenuously. On the Embassy website, you can find information on how to support Antigua & Barbuda in this difficult moment.
The program continuously helps in deploying hygiene and health kits to essential government sectors. This move has helped support the country’s program in revitalising its tourism sectors while empowering and protecting its frontliners in effectively delivering the necessary services amid the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.