London, UK: Antigua and Barbuda’s new Tourism Minister, the Honourable Asot Michael, met with Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays Airline Executives on Tuesday, as part of his hectic meeting schedule during his first official visit to the United Kingdom since being elected.

Virgin Holidays, one of the largest volume operators in the UK, works simultaneously with their airline partner Virgin Atlantic. Antigua and Barbuda is considered a key strategic route for the airline and has been a major player in its Caribbean leisure business.

Minister Michael said: “That as a consequence of our on-going collaboration with Virgin we have been able to grow arrival figures by 10% from the UK this year.”

The Minister added that “The Tourism Ministry has agreed to explore the possibility of a closer and mutually profitable relationship with Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays.”

“Virgin Atlantic’s new aircraft is configured with more upper class seats, moving from a modest 14 to 33” “This significantly benefits the destination and sits well with Antigua’s client base of a more affluent and discerning passenger”, said Minister Michael.

Minister Michael’s trip was seen as “encouraging” to both Virgin Holidays and Virgin Atlantic Executives, who were pleased with the momentum and the direction in which the tourism product was moving.

The Minister expects that the progress made during the meeting will result in discussions on additional airlift in the future. Antigua will continue with its 4 Antigua terminators this winter.

The Tourism Minister Michael reassured both Virgin Holidays and Virgin Atlantic of the Government’s commitment to its tourism partners. The Government of Antigua and Barbuda plans to increase the country’s room stock to around 5,000 rooms within the next two years, and deliver new energy initiatives to cut fuel costs for airline operators.

Also Included in the delegation was Hon Paul Chet Greene, Minister of Sport with responsibility for Heritage sites, Colin C James CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority and Cherrie Osborne Director of Tourism for the UK and Europe. Minister Greene addressed efforts to enhance the overall sports tourism product, and of the ongoing review of the islands heritage sites.

The meeting with Virgin Holidays and Virgin Atlantic was the last in a series of vital meetings held by the Minister and tourism officials in the UK with other carriers, hotel partners and UK tour operators. These meetings and negotiations have without a doubt already yielded tangible results for the country’s vital tourism industry.