The tourism director for Anguilla has said the Caribbean island is “trying to outdo” its 2019 performance this year as it recovers from the effects of Covid-19.
Stacey Liburd said the island had a “record-breaking” year in 2019, experiencing its highest number of arrivals to date with 95,000 visitors coming to the destination.
Liburd, who joined the tourist board in January 2021, said she had pursued an “aggressive” marketing plan from the start of her tenure and had been a “trailblazer” in returning to meet trade partners face-to-face from last June.
More: More Caribbean destinations ease Covid restrictions for visitors
She said: “I think that going out, getting back to business, using that opportunity to inform the travel trade and let them know [we were there for them] paid off for us.
“We had a fantastic festive and we saw quite a few buyouts in some of the properties – big weddings, multigenerational families and a lot of incentive groups that had to cancel in 2020 and rebooked for 2022.
“The destination is busy and I’m happy for that because when the hotels do well, that trickles down, and if you’re working you put money back into the economy.
“We’re seeing that snowball effect [and] we are trying to outdo our 2019 [performance]. So far, January’s numbers far exceeded any of our numbers through 2016 [before Hurricane Urma in 2017] so I think we’re having a good start.”
Anguilla unveiled new entry protocols on April 1, meaning all fully vaccinated travellers who are 18 years and older will no longer need to apply for permission to enter the island via the travel portal at ivisitanguilla.com.
Liburd said the destination will also benefit from a new daily American Airlines flight from Miami, which launched on April 2.
“The fact that we have that direct airlift from Miami into Anguilla is a big thing for markets like the UK and the West Coast and the Midwest in the United States so we’re playing that up as much as possible, that it’s easier to get to the destination,” she said.
Asked what her current message to the trade is, she added: “Safety is number one, first and foremost. The numbers are low and we continue to keep them low. We’ve never had any community spread. So even though we’re relaxing our protocols, safety will still be first and foremost.
“Number two, that we know clients still want to social distance. We’re not a commercial destination, we don’t have cruise ships, we don’t have all-inclusive [product], we don’t have fast food chains, so it really doesn’t speak to commercial tourism.
“We’re off the beaten path, we’re barefoot luxury so we appeal to many different profiles of guests. It’s not just luxury, it’s not just mid-market, it’s not just charming escape properties – we appeal to everyone at every different price point.”
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