Antigua and Barbuda's tourism has not only bounced back since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has set a record high! In July 2021, the number of visitors surpassed pre-COVID-19 levels. According to the Caribbean Journal, "Antigua and Barbuda welcomed 23,405 tourists in July via the VC Bird International Airport--a total that exceeded the 23,031 tourists that visited the destination in July 2019" (caribjournal.com). Considering that 2019 was itself a record-breaking year for the country, Antigua and Barbuda managed to best its previous record year despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. This outstanding performance is on top of the fact that, unlike in July 2019, Antigua and Barbuda could not host Carnival due to the pandemic.
According to Barbuda Tourism Minister Charles Fernandez, "July has been an extremely strong month with demand for the destination from the US Market as well as the UK market, booming with growth above 2019 figures. We are also beginning to see an uptake from our Caribbean and Canadian markets" (caribjournal.com). The July 2021 totals include 15,350 visitors from the United States, up from 10,221 in July 2019 (caribjournal.com). Additionally, July 2021 saw 6,521 visitors from the United Kingdom, up from 5,378 in the same period in 2019 (caribjournal.com).
As Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority CEO Colin C. James explains, the upward trajectory of tourism numbers is a "clear indication that recovery is well underway" (caribjournal.com). The hotels reflect this positive growth. Vernon Jeffers, executive chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association, states that "Last month, hotel occupancy on the island was 'very high'" (caribjournal.com). This elevated capacity includes occupancy surpassing 80 percent across the country's mid-sized hotels (caribjournal.com). Antigua and Barbuda will have the opportunity to attract even more visitors with the September 1, 2021, opening of The Verandah, one of its most popular resorts.