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Latest News from Antigua and Barbuda

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA ANNOUNCE NEW ACCOLADES, DEVELOPMENTS, AIRLIFT SERVICE AND WORLD CUP CRICKET PROGRESS AT 29TH ANNUAL CARIBBEAN TOURISM CONFERENCE

ANTIGUA, West Indies (October 23, 2006)—Antigua and Barbuda’s Ministry of Tourism announced Oct. 21, 2006 at a press briefing held during the 29th Annual Caribbean Tourism Conference in the Bahamas, a number of new accolades the destination has received as well as a $1.4 billion boom in development on the dual island nation. The Hon. Harold E. Lovell, Minister of Tourism, also provided a glowing progress report for the country’s plans to host the World Cup Cricket matches.

Antigua and Barbuda has recently been recognized as:

- Best Wedding Island for 2006, Caribbean World International (also the 2005 recipient)
- One of the top five honeymoon and wedding destinations by American Express
- The best beach destination by Expedia.com

Antigua and Barbuda’s unique ability to provide romance seekers an authentic Caribbean experience including an array of soft adventure activities, premier cuisine and, of course, the ability to exchange vows on one of 365 pristine white or pink sand beaches was cited as the basis for the awards.

Antigua and Barbuda has approximately 40 tourism-related new construction and renovation projects totaling nearly $1.4 billion with completion expected in the next five years. The development is part of the Ministry of Tourism’s overall strategic plan to expand and strengthen the destination experience for guests. A combination of new hotels, restaurants, residential properties and sports facilities will ensure visitors have a comprehensive selection of authentic Caribbean accommodations and experiences available to suit every budget and taste.

“ This is an exciting time for Antigua and Barbuda,” Lovell said. “Our country’s economy relies on tourism and these developments will allow us to strengthen our product and enhance the experience for our visitors. Each project is an indication of our partners’ and investors’ confidence in the current and future Antigua and Barbuda tourism product.”
Recognizing the need to support the new developments, the Ministry of Tourism is also working to ensure a strong infrastructure, including an improved and expanded road system, is in place.

“In just a few months, Antigua and Barbuda will welcome with great pride and fanfare one of the most anticipated international sporting events—2007 ICC Cricket World Cup,” Lovell said. “I am pleased to report that our plans to support this event are progressing at a steady pace and at this point we are on target with the ICC construction stipulations outlined for the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.”

Work on the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium has entered the final stages that include painting and installation of the seats and is expected to open in time to host the matches scheduled in Antigua. With an estimated cost of $54 million, the stadium will have a seating capacity of 10,000 with an additional 10,000 seats arranged to accommodate the 20,000 guests expected during World Cup.

Lovell also reported that Antigua and Barbuda has been working to increase the room capacity and airlift to accommodate the influx of visitors and at this point, all of the planned projects that were undertaken with an agreed upon completion date of December 31 are on schedule.

Airlift, yet another critical component for the island’s tourism product, will also be increasing to Antigua. Effective December 18, a new year-round service offered by Excel airways (www.xl.com) will begin. The flight will depart every Monday and run from the Gatwick airport in London to St. Kitts on to Antigua and returning to London. And in the United States, a new weekly winter charter service operated by GWV and Sunburst Vacations will begin in late December. The flight will run on Saturdays from Logan International and will help strengthen the second largest US source market, the New England region.

The Antigua and Barbuda Ministry of Tourism would like to remind travelers of new passport requirements: Beginning January 8, 2007, the U.S. Department of State will require all U.S. citizens traveling via air or sea to present a valid passport for travel and re-entry into the United States. For information on obtaining a U.S. passport, visit the U. S. Passport Services Web site: http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html or contact the U.S National Passport Information Center, (877) 487-2778.

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Media Contact:
Marie Kephart
(407) 838-1827
Marie.kephart@ypbr.com

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