ST. JOHN, Antigua and Barbuda – 3rd February 2022……..The Minister and staff of the Ministry of Tourism have come in for high praise from Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne during his 2022 Budget presentation, noting that the sector was the catalyst for growth in 2021.
The figures for 2021 show total stay-over visitor arrivals were 169,469 compared to 125,089 at end December 2020 – an increase of 35.48 per cent. Stay-over arrivals recorded for 2021 were 55 per cent of stay-over arrivals in 2019 and played a significant role in producing the 49.2 per cent expansion in output from the hotel sector in 2021 compared to the 69 per cent decline in 2020.
Prime Minister Browne said that growth of the tourism sector, as represented by hotels and restaurants in the GDP numbers, is expected to be 16 per cent. This he said is a significant turnaround from the decline of 63.6 percent that the sector experienced in 2020.
The country’s leader said that the performance of the tourism team is exceptional and must be commended for the hard work they have put in to ensure that the sector continues to be a major driver of the economy despite the challenges posed by COVID-19.
In addition, the Prime Minister said that the construction sector also contributed to the strong economic growth of 2021. He said that it is projected to improve by 12 per cent in 2021 after a decline of 26 per cent in 2020. Meanwhile, the sector for Transport, Storage and Communication is expected to grow by 5.7 per cent for 2021 compared to a decline of 25.2 percent in 2020. Other sectors experiencing growth include: Agriculture, Livestock and Forestry sector – 1.9 per cent; Fishing – 2 per cent; and Wholesale and Retail Trade – a remarkable 10 per cent.
Prime Minister Browne said that these represent solid evidence that growth is returning to the economy, that tourism is bouncing back, that employment is rising, and that the business sector has confidence in the government’s policies to rejuvenate the economy.
“The figures speak for themselves. The foundation for a further take-off, as the world takes all the precautions to deny spread of the coronavirus, has been laid effectively and well. As a nation, we can all be proud of the patience and endurance that all our people displayed. And we can be doubly proud of the readiness of our people to get back to work; to confront the COVID-19 challenge and stop it from impeding our progress,” stated Prime Minister Browne.