What Are the Biggest Drivers of the Antiguan Economy?

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Antigua and Barbuda is a beautiful part of the Leeward Islands. Its historic Nelson Dockyard, named after the famous Admiral Horatio himself; the beautiful views from Monk’s Hill; and the physics-defying Devil’s Bridge are all images that spring to mind when you think of the country.

But while its beautiful and unique landmarks appear whenever you think about Antigua and Barbuda, few people outside of the country spend time thinking about its economy.

Yet, it is perhaps through this numerical perspective that we can best understand the way of life on the islands since work affects wealth, lifestyle, and other crucial elements of living.

So, what are the biggest drivers of the Antiguan and Barbudan economy?

Tourism

Tourism is, hands down, the biggest portion of the economy in Antigua and Barbuda. It provides more jobs and delivers a larger inflow of foreign currency than any other industry.

Visitors from all over the world visit the two major islands as well as the other smaller ones that make up the nation. However, geography plays a large part in where they’re from, with almost twice as many Americans visiting the country as those from European countries or other parts of the Caribbean.

81% of all visitors to the island do so for the purposes of tourism, with a further 12% travelling there to visit friends and loved ones. More than half of them stayed for between four and seven days, while a further third remained on the islands for up to a fortnight.

While the number has fluctuated somewhat in recent years, tourism often accounts for around half of all jobs in the country. But this brings problems since tourism is typically seasonal, with the peak for the sector being between December and April when the weather is at its best.

iGaming

Antigua and Barbuda was the country that gave birth to the iGaming industry back in 1994 when it passed the Free Trade and Processing Zone Act. This milestone legislation essentially allowed for companies to operate their websites from servers on the archipelago and accept registrations from other nations.

The first online casinos of the late 1990s have nothing on today’s sites. In 2022, players are treated to diverse catalogues of live casino games like Mega Fire Blaze Roulette and MONOPOLY Big Baller that combine the convenience of online gaming with the immersion of haing human dealers.

Over the more than two decades since the law was passed, iGaming has been a huge economic boon for Antigua, but it has seen its position in the market decline as other countries have replicated the moves taken by the country.

It still brings in sizable tax revenues for the government, though, and has helped to establish Antigua and Barbuda as a forward-thinking tech-savvy nation.

Agriculture, Livestock, and Fishing

Another big part of the Antiguan and Barbudan economy is agriculture, animal husbandry, and fishing.

30% of the country’s land is arable, with around 18% actually used for crop production. The main products produced on the islands are cotton, sugar, and a range of vegetables.

Meanwhile, more land is used for the rearing of cattle, sheep, goats, hogs, and poultry. However, this has reduced dramatically in recent years, reversing an upward trend from the 1960s that lasted until the mid-2000s. Today, the production of animal products is at the lowest levels since the mid-20th century.

Fishing is also a key industry for the country, but most of this is consumed domestically as Antiguans and Barbudans are big eaters of fish.

Finance

Finance is an industry like iGaming in that geographical borders are not a major barrier to success.

This has helped banks in the country to serve both domestic, regional, and global clients. This is done through a combination of both local and international institutions, such as the Antigua Commercial Bank and the Caribbean Union Bank.

But also like iGaming, the financial services sector in Antigua and Barbuda is facing growing competition from the wider world, with offshore services now operating from many Caribbean islands.

The country does, however, conform to major banking rules, making it a viable option for many European and North American clients.

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