There are things in this world that can withstand even the greatest of trials. Culture, as long as the people remain, can transcend generations and outlast pandemics. Antigua and Barbuda's culture is blessed with resiliency and hospitality. These two, along with many other traits, have been present in the people and felt in the islands even throughout history.
Combine these traits with the majestic terrain and lush beaches of the Caribbean destination and what you have is a country bound to recover its glory in the tourism industry. Dr. Dario Item, Head of Mission of Antigua and Barbuda embassy to Spain, Liechtenstein, and Monaco, is an expert in his territory's culture as well as international relations. He understands that despite the vast reach of COVID-19 and its effects on society, the tourism and travel industry will manage to reach outstanding levels soon.
Antigua and Barbuda was one of the worst-hit areas by the effects of COVID-19. The twin islands rely heavily on the travel and tourism industry, two of the worst-hit sectors by the pandemic.
Antigua and Barbuda: the beach is just the beginning
Previously, the Caribbean State had been enjoying a 5-year wave of increased profit coming from the tourism industry. With 365 beaches - one for each day of the year, the country boasts of a very accommodating and accessible hotel pipeline that interlocks with the country's amenities and public services.
Antigua and Barbuda is also the home of a wide array of cuisine that is served by numerous 5-star restaurants. It also has a world-class international airport, the V.C. Bird International Airport.
Unfortunately, international-wide lockdowns and travel restrictions were implemented globally. This has severely affected the economy of the nation.
From a high of the expected growth of 6.2 percent at the start of 2020, the new projection is pegged at a 6.9% contraction of the GDP.
Despite the adversity, Antigua and Barbuda was not deterred. Amazingly, the country withstood the spread of the pandemic and has one of the least numbers of COVID-19 cases and fatalities across the globe.
Thanks to the health protocols and appropriate contingency plans in place, the country was able to re-open its borders in June, and lifted restrictions to the UK and Europe in August.
Now, tourists, investors, and even people who are actively looking to secure their future and looking for second citizenships and settle in the country for longer term, are gradually coming in.
Since the majestic island-nation opened its borders, the number of arrivals has been doubling per month. "Hon. Charles Max Fernandez and his team have been exemplary in its quest to re-open the nation and reinvigorate the tourism industry, while carefully keeping both residents and tourists safe. As the Head of Mission for Antigua and Barbuda in Madrid, I have been working with the European Caucus and our efforts in advocating and showing our support for the government's program by sharing the positive situation of Antigua and Barbuda to people in our areas of responsibility", Ambassador Item shares.
The initial success of the reopening will pave the way for increased airline operation as well as more hotel re-openings.
Minister of Tourism and Investment Hon. Charles Max Fernandez, has been proactively leading the efforts to reactivate the economy as it re-opened to visitors again while ensuring the health and safety of both the residents and tourists in the country. He and his team have also published the operational guidelines for the yachting sector, a very popular attraction in Antigua and Barbuda.
Air Canada, Virgin Atlantic, and Sunwing are also looking to join other airlines already operating in Antigua and Barbuda. American Airlines, interCaribbean Airlines, Caribbean Airlines, Winair, Delta, JetBlue, and British Airways have already restarted their travel routes to the island nation.
Meanwhile, Hermitage Bay, Antigua Valley, Galley Bay, Carlisle Bay Resort, The Great House, and Blue Waters Resort among others, will add to the already opened hotels. These hotels are members of the Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association. As members of the tourism body, these facilities have been inspected and assured by the Ministry of Tourism.
Dr. Dario Item has expressed his total commitment to both tourists and investors who are actively considering making Antigua and Barbuda their second home.
The government has several ongoing programs that support all people from all walks and stages in their lives who simply want to secure their future.
Ambassador Item welcomes both investors and may get in touch with the Antigua and Barbuda Embassy's staff for more information, especially for those who are actively looking into the Citizenship by Investment Program and Nomad Residency Program.
Likewise, businesses and families looking to relocate may reach out to the Embassy for help on their real estate and other investment opportunities search.