Antigua to welcome first post-lockdown UK flight – and it’s full

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British Airways

The first British tourists to visit Antigua since the pandemic began will arrive on the island on Saturday – and could be on the beach within 70 minutes of landing, the head of the its tourist board has said.

Colin James, CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, said the island has had since the beginning of June to finely tune its arrival screening process – it was one of the first countries in the region to reopen its borders – and that the “long waiting times” warned by the UK Foreign Office should not materialise.

All visitors are required to present evidence of a negative coronavirus test taken no more than seven days before departure, but some arrivals may require additional testing.

James said a travel agent friend had arrived on the island at 2.05pm and was on the beach by 3.15pm.

On Saturday, the first flight from the UK to the Caribbean island will arrive from London Gatwick. Operated by British Airways, it is fully booked.

“We have opened to a few destinations in the US,” said James, “but none of their flights have come full. BA is the first full one. Full in and full out.”

Tourism accounts for nearly 60 per cent of the island’s GDP, but Antigua has not rushed its return to the holiday market.

A state of emergency is due to expire on Friday but will likely be extended until October, enshrining in law a number of measures intended to stem the spread of coronavirus. To date, Antigua has recorded 91 cases and three deaths.

Rules include the mandatory wearing of face masks in public places, a curfew between 11pm and 5am and restrictions on parties and social gatherings. But James said the island has retained its relaxed way of life.

“We’re still light-hearted,” he said. “We have adapted to what is required but will still have not lost our Caribbean charm and passion.”

He said holidays will be “very similar” to before, but will need to follow Antigua’s protocols.

“By and large, you can enjoy your resort,” he said. “If you are around the pool, just by yourself or with your family, you don’t have to wear your masks, but if you are interacting with staff or other guests we ask that you do.

“You can still safely enjoy your holiday and have a great time.”

Antigua’s 365 beaches mean holidaymakers will have no difficulty finding their own space, said James.

He added that there is “pent-up demand” for holidays but does not expect a return to pre-pandemic levels until at the end of 2021.

“When the tap got turned off in February/March, we were on our way to having a phenomenal year,” he said, “Now, with the tap being turned back on, it is starting as a trickle, but as demand builds, we are seeing numbers rise.

“Restarting is an achievement. The booking are coming, but they’re largely coming in for 2021. But the Caribbean has always been very resilient, we know how to get back to business.”

6 COMMENTS

  1. All dem english woman stuck inna dem house wit dem husban for 3 month STRAIGHT. Ah na beach dem ah look !! Let me go cut some aloe boy lol

  2. Well, CErnie, defy dem nuh! Hope the Police will be enforcing the Beach laws this weekend. Look ah money for de Treasury!
    With the resumption of BA flights, I hope that the systems in place to deal with the new norms that MUST be part of the present and post-covid realities remain sound and solid. Am happy for all those Antiguans whose livelihoods depend on a successful hotel industry. Take every precaution to protect yourselves while affording our guests the best of our internationally renown hospitality.

  3. Does anyone know if I want to travel from London to Antigua. Will I be able to go straight to my home in St John,s or will I have to spend 24 hours in Quarantine at a Hotel chosen by the authorities there. If you know please let me know. Thanks.

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