Antigua & Barbuda ended 2016 on a high note by celebrating the arrival of the 100,000th US Visitor in the year, for the first time in recorded arrivals history.
This milestone was a crowning achievement in a banner year for tourism that included announcing multiple new properties, the re-opening of Pineapple Beach Club, and the breaking of ground on new projects including a Marriott Autograph property.
The destination also welcomed the extension of Heritage Quay Pier, which welcomed a Quantum class vessel for the first time, Anthem of the Seas, in 2016.
The 100,000th US Visitor was Jean Larsen, an artist and philanthropist, working with Pink Rock, a breast cancer survivor charity.
Larsen, who was traveling with her partner, Greg Murphy, on American Airlines flight 978 from New York-JFK to VC Bird International Airport, was greeted by the minister of tourism, Asot Michael, with flowers and prizes.
All of the passengers on the flight were treated to special music and dancers upon arrival, as well as a gift bag filled with local delicacies and a discount code for island tours to complement their stays.
Michael shared his joy at reaching this landmark.
He said: “Today is a great day for Antigua and Barbuda as we mark a significant milestone and celebrate the end of a momentous year for our country.
“Despite trends across the region showing a decrease in visitor arrivals and spend, our twin-isle nation is defying the odds and showing significant growth in both, including double-digit growth from the US market.
“Antigua & Barbuda is asserting itself as the new leader in the Caribbean, from new properties, to a growing cruise market, to increased airlift, and we predict 2017 will be an even stronger year in tourism.”
Tourism arrivals from the US have been strong throughout the year, with double-digit growth month over month.
According to the latest statistics, at the end of November 2016, arrivals from the US were at an 18.35 per cent year over year increase that is predicted to remain the same or grow once December figures are released.
This growth is particularly significant as the US remains Antigua and Barbuda’s largest source market for arrivals.