Day 4: Open Jaw In Antigua And Barbuda
6th Annual Showcase Looks To Expand Appeal Beyond Winter
Antigua’s 6th Annual Showcase took place at the newly opened all-inclusive Royalton Antigua. The event provided a chance to see first hand why the 14 mile long island punches above its weight in tourism arrivals, with a record-breaking 27,301 visitors in April, a 17% increase from the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Tourism and Investment.
Local suppliers, tour operators and resorts mingled with industry buyers from around the world, including Air Canada Vacations, Sunwing and WestJet.
Open Jaw spoke with Anthea Watkins, Head of Operations for Antigua Hotels and Tourist Association, about the Showcase: “The primary objective is to market Antigua and Barbuda as a year round destination, with the support of all stakeholders - tour operators, local attractions, restaurateurs, hoteliers and the airport authority.”
The Minister of Tourism and Investment Charles 'Max' Fernandez toured the show, spoke with individual suppliers as well as local and international press. Open Jaw had the opportunity to discuss the impact of #WhatCoolLooksLike campaign with the Minister and whether it played a part in the rise of visitors to the island. "We would like to think so. The whole idea behind the Cool campaign, is to let people know that summer in the Caribbean, in this case Antigua and Barbuda, is ideal because temperatures vary very little. There is only a difference of a few degrees with the winter. The concept also promotes the concept of cool prices and cool deals, through our collaboration with hotels, local restaurants, tour operators, in order to ensure that our summers are not forgotten."
Representing the 'Worlds Most Romantic Resort", Sandals Grand Antigua, CJ Smith, Senior Sales Manager UVI Sandals, explains that Showcase is a way to support not only the destination of Antigua, but to also build connections with those countries outside the Caribbean to experience Sandals in person while they are on the island.
Photographed here with David Shields, VP Sales Island Routes which works closely with Sandals properties throughout the Caribbean, delivering tours and excursions for 10 years. "Island Routes is about experience, we want to make sure we take care of all the details" says Shields, "in Antigua, we find those unique gems for land tours, water based tours and culinary offerings"
Gabi Howell, representing the family owned and operated The Great House Antigua. This boutique property is unique for many reasons, including its stone cut exterior walls, antique furniture and serenity garden. Most of all, it tells a story of a rich history dating back 350 years, of what once was a sugar plantation home. It is the last remaining of its kind on the island of Antigua.