St. John’s, Antigua – Exploring opportunities for tourism growth in key source markets was the focus for the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority at a planning retreat held last Friday.

Today, Wednesday May 24, Minister of Tourism the Honourable Asot Michael and the marketing teams will present these findings to the Cabinet of Ministers of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda.

The Tourism Minister said, “The team will be presenting marketing plans designed to improve the performance of stay-over air arrivals and expenditure, through increased destination sales activity and related activities over the next three to six months.

The strategic meeting was led jointly by Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority Richard Skerritt, The CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Colin C. James, and Tourism Consultant Shirlene Nibbs. It was hosted by the Antigua and Barbuda Hospitality Training Institute.

In attendance at the meeting, were marketing teams from the destination’s North American, United Kingdom, European, Canadian and Caribbean markets, along with a small focus group of local private sector stakeholders to include airline, hotel and tourism representatives. The meeting was convened just one day after the successful completion of the 4th Annual Showcase Antigua Barbuda.

The marketing teams and stakeholders also engaged in discussions on the pricing strategy and profitability of the destination’s hotels, the hotel mix, room stock and airline connectivity

Speaking at the opening of the strategy meeting, ABTA Chairman Richard Skerritt challenged the team saying, “I want us to revisit what we have been doing. What are we doing successfully, what we can we do better, and what are the opportunities for doing things differently and more cost-effectively.”  Skerritt urged the marketing teams to “focus on making the right decisions, at the right time, and with the best possible return on investment.”

CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Colin. C. James said, “An analysis of the performance of the destination in the marketplace indicated quite clearly the growing dynamism of the market, and the need to be competitive and react quickly to the changing needs of the consumers”. James said, “Our number one priority is keeping average daily rates (ADR) and arrivals strong, to the benefit of all stakeholders.”

Chairman of the Antigua Hotels and Tourist Association, Alex de Brito, expressed pleasure at the high quality of the technical exchanges, and commended the Tourism Authority officials for this initiative.

Antigua & Barbuda Tourism achieved 6% stay-over arrivals growth in 2016. Growth is expected to slow in 2017, but with further growth to be fuelled over the next three years by a projected increase in hotel room construction and new airlift connections.