Please meet the Hon. Haydn Hughes, Anguilla’s newly appointed Minister of Tourism and Kenroy Herbert, newly appointed Chairman of the Anguilla Tourist Board. We had the opportunity to ask them a few questions during their first weeks in their new roles…
1. How has COVID-19 impacted tourism in Anguilla?
HH: Like tourist destinations everywhere, the impact has been dramatic. Tourism is our largest economic sector and the largest employer. As you would imagine the impact on our economy has been severe. But our government has come to power on a commitment to return the destination to prosperity and we are taking steps now to ensure a full recovery.
2. How quickly do you think Anguilla’s tourism will rebound once the country’s borders reopen?
KH: Travel & Leisure has named Anguilla the Best Island in the Caribbean for the fourth year in a row. I have absolutely no doubt that when travellers have an opportunity to visit us they will be eager to do so. We know that there is considerable pent-up demand for Anguilla, among our homeowners, our repeat guests, and those who just need a break from the stress and strain of the past several months. We offer a wonderful respite, a safe haven where you can relax and enjoy our spectacular beaches and our culinary delights, in the comfort of a lovely villa, your home away from home.
3. How will Anguilla begin to reopen for tourism.
HH: Anguilla has been COVID free for some time and we are taking steps to ensure that as we prepare to welcome travellers every protection is in place to ensure the health and safety of our people and our guests. As of Friday, August 21st, visitors wishing to enter Anguilla may start the pre-registration process online at the Anguilla Tourist Board’s website. Application requirements include the visitor’s home address and proposed travel dates; the submission of a negative PCR test, taken within three to five days prior to arrival; and a health insurance policy that will cover any medical expenses incurred in relation to COVID-19 treatment. Once the application is approved, an electronic certificate authorizing travel to Anguilla will be issued. All passengers will be given a PCR test on arrival, with a second test administered on day 10 of their visit. During this period, they can enjoy all the facilities and amenities at their villa. Once a negative result is returned after the second test, guests are then free to explore the island. In the event of a positive test, the guest will have to isolate at a government approved location.
4. What enhanced safety measures have been put in place to ensure visitors to resorts, hotels and attractions will be safe?
HH: Of course, Anguilla has been COVID free for some time. Nevertheless, destination protocols for opening are being finalized with the Ministry of Health. We have on-going meetings with stakeholders to discuss how they are adapting their product to meet what we expect will be the new normal” for travellers. And I can promise you that our visitors will benefit from the best natural immunity energy boosters - beach, sunlight, fresh air, relaxing atmosphere: stress free living and of course, our very own special brand of warm Anguillian hospitality.
5. How do you plan to attract visitors once again?
KH: Well you can imagine that it doesn’t take much to entice people to visit the best island in the Caribbean. But we will of course be actively sharing news of our reopening to markets around the world. Anguilla is well positioned for post-COVID recovery. Our beaches are always uncrowded, we have smaller hotels and boutique resorts, and a fantastic array of villas, ideal for families and intergenerational travel.
6. How important are Canadians to tourism in Anguilla?
KH: Canadians are important to Anguilla on a number of levels. First of course, Canada has traditionally been the second source market for visitors to our destination. And Canadians are our kind of tourist – relaxed, warm and friendly like our own people. But now more than ever Canadians will be welcomed to our shores. We admire the way the country has responded to the pandemic crisis and we watched as individual Canadians self-isolated and respected the health of others. We know that they will bring this same approach and these values with them when they visit us and will show respect for the new rules that will have to be in place and social distance appropriately.
7. What does the future hold for Anguilla and are there any trends we can look forward to?
HH: I can only anticipate that the future will be kind to Anguilla. We have a paradise island, recognized as the best island in the Caribbean by one of the world’s leading travel publications. People want to visit us. As I look to the future, I believe our villa products and smaller hotel properties will be ideal for people who want to return cautiously to travel, possibly with extended family or groups of trusted friends. Our track record throughout the pandemic demonstrates that we will always put the health and safety of our visitors and our people first. I believe that will be something travellers will respond to in a very positive way.
KH: We are also excited about some of the plans we have for the future including improvement of both the arrival and departure experiences for all guests to Anguilla as well as the development and upgrade to the Anguilla/St. Maarten dock facilities.
8. Where do Americans fit into the scheme of things in Anguilla right now?
KH: Like the world over, Anguillans are deeply saddened by the challenges facing our neighbours. We pray that they can come to grips with the pandemic. Of course, we do not want to put our visitors or our own people at risk of infection so we are watching the situation very carefully. The protocols that we have put into place to prevent a further outbreak here should answer this question.
9. Every Minister of Tourism wants to make their mark on their country. As the newly appointed Minister of Tourism, what is your plan for tourism in Anguilla?
HH: We have appointed a young dynamic Chairman to the Tourist Board who brings to the job extensive experience in the sector. Together we are going to build an exciting plan to expand our tourism industry while paying respect to the pristine beauty of our island. By working with our stakeholders, respecting their needs and listening to their ideas, I am confident that our tourism product and the kinds of tourists we attract to our destination will be envied throughout the region.
At the beginning of July, the Anguilla Tourist Board (ATB) was pleased to announce that for the fourth consecutive year in a row, Anguilla was ranked No. 1 on the Travel + Leisure 2020 World’s Best Awards list of the Top Islands in the Caribbean, Bermuda, and the Bahamas. Readers rated islands on the following characteristics: Natural attractions/beaches, activities/sights, restaurants/food, people/friendliness, value. Anguilla also ranked #7 on the Top 25 Islands in the World, the only Caribbean island to make that list.
The Anguilla Tourist Board (ATB) has also recently launched a new online platform offering visitors an opportunity to experience the best of Anguilla from the comfort of their own homes. Experience Anguilla At Home is an immersive video and audio platform showcasing the very best of the island. With 20 videos and a curated Spotify playlist, visitors are encouraged to taste, learn, watch and listen in order to truly transport themselves to Anguilla. Experience Anguilla At Home offers a variety of multimedia platforms in the following categories: Anguilla Experiences, Food and Drinks to Make, Meditation and Motivation, Music and Culture, and Meet the Locals.
For more information please visit the official website of the Anguilla Tourist Board: www.IvisitAnguilla.com
And you can follow on Facebook: Facebook.com/AnguillaOfficial