‘We live it. You’ll love it’ : Barbuda makes its comeback

Despite devastation of the Category Five hurricanes that swept over the islands of the eastern Caribbean in 2017, the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority has seen an increase of visitor arrivals for 2018 and significantly the launch of harder hit Barbuda’s rebrand and new tourism campaign.

Towards the close of 2018, Asha Frank, chair of tourism, culture, youth and sport affairs for the Barbuda Council, said: “It's crucial for Barbuda right now to be able to let the world know that we are back open for business and ready to welcome guests. Approximately out of the 250,000 guests that may travel to Antigua and Barbuda about 10,000 are going to Barbuda; Barbuda is significantly smaller, but it always has been. It’s a slow spark but its steady and we're rebranding because we think that we can have more customers, more tours, more guests and more tourists.

“We have a new logo and a new motto which is '#Visit Barbuda – we live it. You'll love it.' It’s still at quite an early stage but one of the great things about Barbuda is that it is a completely eco-friendly destination; eco-tourism that's our market and we're going for that independent traveller that wants the experience and to feel like when they've left that they're a Barbudan.”

Antigua and Barbuda closed 2017 with more than one million passengers from cruise and air arrivals, making it the first time the destination has ever passed such a large milestone. Tourism numbers have grown throughout 2018 with numbers up 7% year-on-year.

In a WTM interview, Colin James, CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, said: “It’s onwards and upwards and the horizon is encouraging and very bright. The feedback we have got back, particularly from UK tour operators, is that the business in Antigua is up. All in all, we've had a good year and hopefully we’ll see an even better one in 2019.”

The destination is to place a big emphasis on its romance offering for 2019. For the third successive year, Antigua and Barbuda was named the Caribbean's most romantic wedding and honeymoon destination in the World Travel Awards 2018.

This is in part thanks to no residency requirements for foreign travellers wishing to get married in a tropical setting and, as James highlights: “Whether you're coming to the island for a destination wedding or you're coming to spend your honeymoon we really make it very special. We have carved a niche out for ourselves as two beautiful islands where you can have your nuptials in an unforgettable setting and background.”

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