American Airlines is extending its daily flights to Antigua and Barbuda from New York through this summer into the early fall and winter, government officials of the dual-island Caribbean nation said Monday. The service had been scheduled to end on August 15 of this year before resuming on November 3, 2022.
Government and tourism officials cited strong visitor arrivals for encouraging American’s move to expand its flights between John F. Kennedy International Airport and Antigua’s V.C. Bird International Airport. In the aftermath of the outbreak, more Caribbean destinations report increased arrivals during the traditionally slower summer season.
Under the new schedule, Antigua will go from hosting once-weekly arrivals to welcoming seven weekly flights between August 16 and the end of 2022. “Demand for Antigua and Barbuda is extremely strong at this moment,” said Charles Fernandez, Antigua and Barbuda’s minister of tourism.
“From all indications and feedback from our airline and hotel partners we will have a significantly busy summer straight into winter similar to what was experienced last year,” Fernandez said.
“We have been consistent in our lobbying efforts to the airline,” added Colin James, CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA), “encouraging them to maintain the daily service during our shoulder period when they would have normally pulled back.”
James said year-to-date Antigua and Barbuda visitor arrivals indicate the country is “steadily closing the gap” on its record 2019 overnight visitor arrivals, during which the dual-island territory hosted 202,964 overnight land-based visitors. “Demand is at an all-time high,” James said. “We now have some remarkably strong lift coming into Antigua.”
ABTA additionally named nine travel advisors to its Tourism Advisory Committee effective immediately. The new members are agency owners Susan Berman (Berman Travel), Debra Hines-Brown (SmartBird World Travel), Edouard Jean (Massive Travels), Brenda O’Neale (With This Ring, Wedding & Honeymoon Travel), Niki Rakowitz (CARE Travel), Terry Strauss (Dedham Travel), Tom Varghese (Travel Tom) Sanya Weston (Premier Travel Service Group) and Donna Borrelli (Hamden Travel).
O’Neale was named the board’s chairperson. The group offers “a deep understanding of the industry and knowledge of the ever-changing travel marketplace,” said Dean Fenton, ABTA’s director. Fenton expects the nine travel professionals to “help steer the ABTA as we make decisions on activities to enhance the Antigua and Barbuda brand.”
The group will “work in tandem on strategies to promote the destination and also explore opportunities that benefit both Antigua and Barbuda and travel advisors nationally,” added Norell Joseph, ABTA’s U.S. sales and marketing manager.
“The pandemic reinforced the critical role travel advisors have in promoting tourism to our islands,” Joseph said. “We are honored to have this group of professionals serve on our Advisory Committee.”
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