Colin James, CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda tourism Authority

Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA) officials are crediting the destination’s #WhatCoolLooksLike summer marketing campaign with a “double-digit” tourist arrivals increase.

The dual-island nation posted a 10 percent year-over-year increase in land-based, overnight guests arriving by air in May, while “June and July provisional figures also [reflect] double-digit growth when compared to figures during the same months in 2018,” ABTA officials said.

English Harbour, Antigua

“With the launch of the campaign in May, the tremendous support from our partners, hotel openings, and new destination events on our tourism calendar, we are seeing double-digit increases, at a time when this is not the norm,” said Charles Fernandez, the country’s minister of tourism.

ABTA’s “provisional” data indicates that between January and July of this year, Antigua and Barbuda generated a 10 percent increase in overnight air arrivals with 187,701 visitors during the period, compared with 171,147 visitors during the same period in 2018 and 159,764 arrivals during the same seven-month period in 2017.

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“This healthy10 percent uptake in the summer is significant,” said Fernandez. “It means that on top of the phenomenal growth we received, the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority’s marketing strategy as well as other key factors, have really allowed us to steadily build arrivals, year on year.”

Antigua & Barbuda’s #WhatCoolLooksLike campaign was designed for the destination’s traditional shoulder season from May through October, with the objective of “proving that Antigua and Barbuda is more than a winter destination,” said ABTA officials in a statement.

“We are changing the narrative. Antigua and Barbuda is open year-round,” said Colin C. James, ABTA’s CEO. “Our partners are communicating to us that the campaign has made a huge difference and we are seeing it not only in increased arrivals but in the increased revenue coming into the country during the summer months.”

As part of the campaign, ABTA premiered a “Cool Card” consumers can download on the ABTA site. Cards provide access to exclusive offers and benefits at participating Antigua and Barbuda hotels, restaurants and tour companies.

Consumers can obtain cards on the Antigua and Barbuda tourism website. After signing up, they will receive emails with instructions for downloading cards onto phones. Travelers can then present their cards at participating partners listed on the official Antigua and Barbuda “special offers” page for discounts on horseback riding excursions and rainforest canopy tours, as well as guided tours of historic St. John’s city and restaurant and retail specials.

The #WhatCoolLooksLike campaign includes TV, radio, digital, social media, print, public relations and outdoor advertising initiatives in the US, UK, Caribbean and Canadian markets. Antigua and Barbuda promotional spots are also appearing in cinemas, airport lounges, on in-flight screens, outdoors, in malls, on undergrounds and at consumer shows.

In addition, the campaign is extending offers to consumers via travel trade co-op marketing, including discounts on flights booked with airline partners and on-island offers.

James said arrivals from Antigua’s US, UK and Europe and Caribbean markets “are all showing growth” through July, while the destination is also “acquiring new market share, as arrivals from other countries and emerging markets have increased.”

On the other hand, Canadian arrivals experienced a slight decline “due to a significant reduction in airlift,” James said. “We are combatting that with a number of activities planned in the market with airline partners,” he added. “We are looking forward to a record year again in air arrivals barring no natural disasters.”

Antigua is also poised to expand its cruise ship visitors via an agreement with Royal Caribbean International to significantly increase the cruise line’s calls in Antigua and explore land-side locations to “potentially establish, invest and develop experiences to enhance the destination offerings,” said Fernandez.