Antigua and Barbuda are low-lying islands situated in the Eastern Caribbean sea. Antigua is in the Southwestern part of Puerto Rico, while Barbuda is in the Northern part of Antigua.
The economy of Antigua and Barbuda is largely service-based. The country also has an agricultural production practice limited to domestic markets and consumption. The economy was severely affected by the outbreak of the Corona virus.
Dr. Dario Item, who serves as Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda in Spain, Liechtenstein and Monaco will further tell us about tourism as a stronghold of the economy in Antigua and Barbuda.
Ambassador Dario Item: The stronghold of Antigua and Barbuda’s economy is tourism. There has been consistent and tremendous growth in the country’s tourism sector. For example, in 2019, there were 1.04 million tourists here, with each tourist spending an average of 958 US Dollars. This accounted for 58.7% of the country’s GNP in 2019.
Can you mention the tourist attraction centres in Antigua and Barbuda?
Ambassador Dario Item: Antigua and Barbuda is home to many tourists attraction centres, ranging from beaches, museums, to cathedrals, restaurants, etc. Some of these attractions are Nelson’s Dockyard, Shirley Heights Lookout, Half moon Bay, Martello Tower, Museum of Antigua and Barbuda, and a host of other exquisite tourist attractions. However, the principal tourists attraction centres are the beaches.
Can you succinctly describe some of these tourist attractions?
Ambassador Dario Item: Nelson’s Dockyard has 18th and 19th-century buildings that contain hotels, shops, etc. It also has amazing boats and landmark sites
Shirley Heights Lookout is about 490ft in height and this lookout enables visitors to have a panoramic view of English and Falmouth Harbours.
The Museum of Antigua and Barbuda is a historic building and was founded in 1985. The architectural design was done by Peter Harrison – a famous architect known for his artistic dexterity across the United States and West Indies. This museum contains artefacts and artworks about the history and culture of Antigua and Barbuda.
The Half Moon Bay is also one of the most exquisite Caribbean beaches. It’s safeguarded by a reef and has natural foliage.
Has there been consistent and tremendous growth in the country’s tourism sector?
Ambassador Dario Item: Yes. This has been the case over the years. For example, in 1995, the number of tourists was 447,000 with every tourist spending an average of 553 US Dollars on each tourist visit. This accounted for 42.7% of the country’s GNP in I995. The number of tourists has since been on the increase. In 2018, for example, 1.06 million tourists visited Antigua and Barbuda, accounting for 53.18% of the country’s GNP in the year.
Thank you for the information you have provided, Ambassador Item.
In addition, however, the tourism sector experienced decline due to the outbreak of Corona virus pandemic in 2020 which led to restrictions on global travels. In 2020, the country was able to record only 384,500 tourists with just a 30.36% contribution to the country’s GNP. When compared to 2019, there was a reduction of over 1 million tourists in 2020.
To salvage the economy, the government of Antigua and Barbuda have been taking strides to diversify the economy. For instance, the country planned to complete a $200 million redevelopment of its seaport by the middle of 2022. There are also plans to invest in transportation.
As emphasised above, tourism is a stronghold of the economy in Antigua and Barbuda (together with government services). The country generates a sizeable percentage of its revenue from tourism. Even though COVID-19 affected tourists’ visitation, the government has taken measures to cushion this effect and also diversify the economy.