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Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority has announced plans to increase its UK marketing budget by 20% next year in a bid to attract travellers outside the peak winter season.
Through a combination of joint marketing with tour operators and travel agents, as well as direct-to-consumer advertising, the Caribbean country is aiming to attract couples without children or with non-school-age children to visit during the off-peak months of May, June, September and October. Visitor numbers for this summer have already increased by between 11%-14.5% compared with June, July and August 2014.
Jean-Marc Flambert, vice president of sales and marketing for the UK and Europe, said: "We are increasing our budgets by at least 20% in our overall marketing spend for the UK, and the trade is a very important component of our business so they will definitely see the impact of that.
"The issue we have is that our business and premium economy seats are always full, but what we need to do now is work harder to get the other three and four-star hotels filled because we have some great hotel stock.”
The twin islands have already seen significant hotel development this year with the construction of $250 million Barbuda property Paradise Found, with high-profile investment from Hollywood actor Robert de Niro, plus agreements for further openings from Hard Rock Resorts and the Sunwing Travel Group.
Colin James, chief executive of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, said: “The focus is working with our trade partners to secure additional airlift and also to develop new product on-island. I would say in the next 18 to 20 months, we should have an additional 1,000 rooms in Antigua and Barbuda.
“With the 60th anniversary of carnival next year, we are also redoubling our efforts not just with our visitors but also with our diaspora in the UK, so we are working with tour operators to target that group and bring them home for carnival next summer.”
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