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The global tourism industry may return to normal levels, but some trends in the sector are changing.
This was stated by Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA) CEO Colin James, who said people have changed in the way they plan their travels.
He noted that the main new trend affecting the twin islands’ economic backbone is late bookings.
“People used to book vacations or holidays six months in advance, but now you can look in your books and two weeks later they look low and then suddenly all the bookings come in,” he said.
“Do you know why? Because there’s always this uncertainty in people’s minds [that] something will happen. Will there be another outbreak? — and so they book later, but book,” James explained.
His comments are reinforced by fluctuations in hotel bookings across the country for the coming summer season.
James attributed this to the fears some travelers still have about the coronavirus and travel abroad, as well as the rise in the cost of living and fuel prices around the world caused by the conflict in Eastern Europe.
He offered several suggestions that ABTA could take into account in order to solve this problem.
“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing to raise awareness of the destination, keep talking about how easy it is to get here, how safe it is to get here, that now you can travel without any quarantine mechanisms. once you’re fully vaccinated, and if you haven’t done a rapid test, the ease of travel restrictions,” James said.
“The fact that in other countries of origin, such as the UK and Canada, you do not need to be tested to return has also eased the fear people might have.
“So I think we’re on the right track and we’ve tried and proven certain mechanisms that work for us,” he added.
Despite the uncertainty and late bookings, James said there appears to be an unprecedented desire to travel during the normally quiet summer months, with many people locked up at home for two years.
“I mean, I’m sure most Antigua people are telling you that their families are coming home for the first time in two years. They couldn’t travel [and] it’s much safer now… we have a high vaccination rate.
“So, you see this surge not only in those who return home, but also in those visitors who are on vacation.
“We see this pent-up demand and we are positioning the destination, especially with our airline partners, to take advantage of this demand so that we have such a strong second half of the year starting in December,” James concluded.
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