Antiguan Hoteliers Losing Millions in Cancellations

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua – The Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association (ABHTA) says many resorts here are reporting a significant decline in occupancy rates and the trend is likely to continue unless the COVID-19 pandemic is controlled in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.

expedPhoto courtesy of Expedia“We will continue to keep an eye on the performance of our members, understanding very well that we are a long way from full recovery. The volatility of this period is all too evident as we continue to fluctuate being uncertainty and optimism,” said ABHTA executive chairman, Vernon Jeffers.

“Should cancellations continue at this pace, we will see the effects trickling down to employees in the sector where reduced work weeks and rotations will have to be employed. This a fear we do not want to see realized,” he said.

He said one hotel had already reported more than two million US dollars in losses as a result of cancellations out of the United States for December, January and February, as well as a further one million US dollars for visitors coming from the United Kingdom.

But in a statement, the ABHTA said there could be a “glimmer of hope” with potential visitors “opting to re-book for future dates.

“Re-bookings is a positive sign … in this current environment, as it could translate to a strong performance in the summer months. Should we, however, continue to see the pace of cancellations, the performance in our traditional high season months, now through to April, will be negatively impacted,” the statement said.

Jeffers also addressed the issue of Air Canada decision to suspend flight s to the Caribbean including Antigua and Barbuda as a result of the virus.

“We cannot fully calculate the loss of the pause in flights from Air Canada which will be effective on January 31.  Once all the bookings are cleared from their system, we will see some properties experiencing a drastic dip in projections.  The ABHTA will very soon be monitoring these results and present its projections for travel this first quarter,” he said.

Meanwhile, the ABHTA is appealing to its partners to focus on safety protocols to help reduce the high incidence of local infection rates.

A December 17 travel advisory issued by the Canadian government advised its citizens against non-essential travel.

“At this time the ABHTA appeals to all hospitality partners that now more than ever, we must focus on following protocols. We are at a strong position in the sector where our vaccination rates are at or near 100 per cent in most businesses.

“This result, along with following the core protocols will keep our employees and their families safe therefore positioning our industry to remain open and ready.  We cannot control the external factors in other markets, but we can continue to showcase our destination as Sun, Sea and Safe and the destination of choice for the potential traveler,” the ABHTA added.