PM Browne says 2021 was a “year of steady growth”, tourism figures heading in 2022 encouraging
SAINT JOHN’S, ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA — Part of the government’s plan for the economy in 2022 will be to expand into new areas to generate employment while also revitalizing tourism, said Prime Minister Gaston Browne in his New Year’s Day address.
“In the budget statement that we will present during the course of 2022, we will lay out in detail the complete plan for the country’s further economic and social development,” said Browne.
He added, “While we engage in diversification of our economy into cannabis, stem cells, blockchain and cryptocurrencies, we continue to strengthen agriculture to ensure food security and food sovereignty.
“We are also developing digital technologies to facilitate digitalization of our economy, to create new jobs and opportunities for entrepreneurship.”
Prime Minister Browne also said Antigua and Barbuda is “recovering our vital tourism industry”, noting that it has “proven to be resilient” in the face of a devastating pandemic.
“Over the past 18 months, we incentivized the hotel industry, helping hoteliers to refurbish and renovate their properties so that, as the pandemic eases, they could present our country as a fresh, reinvigorated destination to tourists,” he said.
“This strategy, together with the patience and endurance of the workers in the industry, is what causes our hotels to be near full capacity now, despite the shadow of COVID that hangs over the globe.”
Turning his attention to tourism specifically, Prime Minister Browne said tourist arrivals were on an upwards trend towards the end of 2021 and projections into 2022 were promising thus far.
Browne revealed that 2021 “was a year of steady growth” that had an estimated 167,000 air arrivals — accounting for “more than half of the total number of arrivals by air in 2019”.
“These figures indicate that tourism is bouncing back, and that our promotional efforts and preparations in Antigua and Barbuda are working,” he said.
“On the cruise tourism front, at the end of December, 77,565 persons visited since cruising resumed in July.
“Already, the scheduled calls for 2022 are encouraging, demonstrating the value in the investment we have made.”
Antigua’s yachting industry has similarly “proved to be durable and resilient”, the prime minister said, adding that work to accommodate Oasis class ships that will “bring thousands more tourists to our shores and greater earnings to our people” is well underway and set to be completed by March 2022.