Anguilla’s tourism minister paints a rosy picture for travel: Travel Weekly

Gay Nagle Myers

Haydn Hughes, Minister of Tourism for Anguilla, could not have painted a rosier picture of his northern Caribbean island than he did in my recent interview with him.

“The festivals are back, Miami’s new air service is a game-changer, the online registration form has been scrapped, construction is booming, and the hotel scene is vibrant,” he reported.

Haydn Hughes

Haydn Hughes Photo credit: Anguilla Tourism Board

The island reopened its borders in November 2020 with strict protocols that included a 14-day quarantine after arrival, later reduced to seven days. A brief outbreak in April 2021 shut it down for a month, but since then Anguilla has been open for business. More than 70% of residents are fully immunized and “the marketing message” Lose the crowd, find yourself “resonates well with our type of visitor who knows that we are a safe, secure and uncrowded destination,” Hughes said.

Anguilla has no all-inclusive resorts, no mass tourism, and prohibits unvaccinated travelers from entering.

“Our tourism brand caters to a certain segment of travelers who don’t care about pre-arrival PCR or the rapid test requirement because it ensures a safe vacation stay,” said Hughes, although he hinted that the PCR pre-entry requirement could be dropped at some point soon.

On the hotel scene, the Minister cited the recent opening of the Aurora Anguilla Resort & Golf Club, formerly Cuisinart resort.

• Related: Aurora Anguilla joins Salamander Hotels fold

“The new owner has taken a good hotel and transformed it into a magnificent hotel with an entertainment area, a water park and a redesigned golf course, which is now probably one of the best courses in the world,” said Hughes.

“Wide variety” of hotel choices

The improved Belmond Cap Juluca, Quintessence, the Four Seasons, the improvements at Malliouhana, Zemi Beach House, the expansion at Frangipani, the new Alkera villa on Shoal Bay East and the many Airbnb accommodations “offer a great variety and choice for the exclusive traveler in search of a luxury setting”, according to Hughes.

American Airlines’ new nonstop flight from Miami, first advertised as bi-weekly, is now a year-round daily offering, based on demand, and is an alternative to flying to St. Maarten and then by taking the public ferry or private transfer to Anguilla.

Anguilla also has air service on Tradewind Aviation and Silver Airways from San Juan to Clayton J. Lloyd Airport, which is planning a new airport terminal. Cape Air service from St. Thomas is scheduled to resume in November.

The public ferry that connects Blowing Point, Anguilla, to Marigot in French Saint-Martin will open a new terminal in December.

The Anguilla Tourism Board recently launched a welcome service for visitors at both entry points – its airport and ferry service. Twice a month, on the busiest arrival days, visitors are greeted with refreshments and gifts, a collaborative effort with local stakeholders.

“We are constantly working to improve our visitor experience,” said Hughes. “We are known for our hospitality and we recognize the importance of ensuring that the first and last impressions of our island are equally memorable.”

The summer festival returns

Hughes reported that the Anguilla Summer Festival returns this year, a 10-day Caribbean carnival from July 29 to August 7.

“It’s always been a major event here. Visitors come from all over, and travelers staying in St. Martin/Martin also come in droves. The last one was in 2019, just before the peak of hurricane season, and then Covid shut us down in 2020 and 2021,” he said.

Festival highlights include several boat races, including the one-day Poker Run event with up to 100 boats making four stops around the island. Each stop offers a lively beach party with music, entertainment, food and drink.

• Related: Festivals are in full swing in the Caribbean this summer

Other events on the festival schedule include parades with costumed troupes, a children’s parade, street dancing, calypso competitions, and the dawn party called Eyes Wide Shut at the village beach of Sandy Ground.

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