Five questions with the Anguilla Tourist Board

As some destinations begin plans for future travel, the Caribbean's Anguilla is waiting for the day it can welcome back tourists to its white sand beaches

Sandra Thomas Travel

I started my “Five questions with…” series two months ago with a plan to keep people thinking about travel amidst the fallout of COVID-19 — and in hopes of getting answers to questions about destinations that friends and family were already asking me.

As travel editor at the Vancouver Courier newspaper, a board member of the B.C. branch of the Travel Media Association of Canada, and a member of the Society of American Travel Writers, travel is a big part of my life and I had the contacts already in place to get started.

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Now with some destinations looking to slowly reopen, and, in an effort to catch a glimpse of future travel trends, I’m continuing to reach out to travel experts and tourism bureaus across Canada and the globe for answers to five similar questions.

And while no one can predict the future, all are hopeful travel will soon resume. But, how exactly that will look is anyone’s guess.

If you are part of a destination management organization or represent a property and want to share your thoughts, please drop me a line at writersblock5@hotmail.com.

Five questions with Donna Banks, chairperson of the Anguilla Tourist Board.

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Anguilla is a tropical paradise located in the Caribbean. Photo ATB

How do you measure tourism numbers for your destination?

We measure tourism numbers by arrivals to the island and in 2019 we enjoyed our best year ever in terms of stay-over arrivals.

We are confident that in time we will rebuild our industry and recover from this unprecedented event, which has severely impacted the world as well as the global hospitality industry.

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Anguilla is located in the northern part of the Caribbean. Photo ATB

How has COVID-19 impacted tourism in your region?

Anguillians are a proud and resilient people and we come together in times of crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic, of course, has severely impacted Anguilla’s economy, as tourism is our largest economic sector and the largest employer. 

The Anguilla government has introduced an economic support package to assist those affected financially, economically and socially. 

Many of the tourism industry stakeholders on the island have also stepped up, providing assistance to their employees and their families. 

Do you believe the virus has changed the way people are looking at travel? 

It absolutely will change the way people will travel going forward. Travellers want to feel safe, in how they travel to a destination, where they stay and what they do in that destination and they will want to feel they are being looked after safely and responsibly, in every aspect of their experience. 

The stakeholders will have to have a well thought out plan in place to make the entire experience feel safe for travellers going forward.

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Anguilla hopes to be able to invite visitors back just as soon as it's safe to do so. Photo ATB

What travel trends do you predict for later this year and 2021?

Having had no active or suspected cases of Covid-19 in Anguilla, on the recommendation of the Chief Medical Officer, we lifted all restrictions on movement and gatherings, effective Wednesday, 29 April. 

This means that churches, places of worship, all retail stores, hair salons and barber shops, accommodation suppliers, gyms and spas, recreational facilities, official lotteries, restaurants and bars have reopened. 

Our schools reopened on May 11, with a phased approach to in-class teaching and the continuation of thee-learning platforms.

However, we are remaining vigilant, we still require social distancing and good hygiene practices and environmental health officials in Anguilla will be visiting all commercial premises to ensure compliance.

Anguilla’s ports will remain closed for passenger movements until the situation outside Anguilla allows for the safe reopening to external traffic.

Anguillalooks forward to welcoming visitors once borders are opened and flights resume. 

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Anguilla is home to many boutique hotels. Photo ATB

What does the future hold for your destination and when do you think it will be welcoming visitors once again?

Anguillalooks forward to welcoming visitors once borders are opened and flights resume. 

We are an ideal location in that our beaches are always uncrowded, we have small boutique hotels, and a fantastic array of villas, ideal for families and intergenerational travel.

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.

We can guarantee that our visitors will benefit from the best natural immunity and energy boosters — beach, sunlight, fresh air, relaxing atmosphere — stress-free living and, of course, our very own special brand of warm Anguillian hospitality.

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Little Bay, Anguilla. Photo ATB

And in the meantime…. "With Love from Anguilla" series

In April, the Anguilla Tourist Board announced a new social strategy that reflects and addresses the current situation in Anguilla and indeed across the globe.

The series of posts is designed to surprise and delight audiences, building community and connections through their digital channels, with heartfelt messages that make people feel supported, valued and loved. 
 
The content being created falls into one of three categories: Informative, Inspirational and Educational. To that end, the board has enlisted the participation of a wide cross section of Anguillians, including religious leaders, artists, musicians, chefs, historians and wellness practitioners.  

Inspirational readings, live yoga sessions on the beach, Anguilla island playlists, award-winning cocktails with prominent mixologists, live culinary demonstrations of Anguillian specialties with leading chefs, fun, Anguilla-themed crossword puzzles, picture puzzles and games are all features that will be shared in the upcoming weeks. 

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Hopefully it won't be too long before Anguilla welcomes visitors once again. Photo ATB

 “We are all part of the global community, and we understand only too well the sense of isolation, fear and uncertainty that this pandemic has fueled,” said ATB chairperson Donna A. Daniels-Banks. “We believe it is important to share content that is uplifting and entertaining; stories that remind us of our common humanity, invoke the simple pleasures that we may have once taken for granted, and speak to how much we still have to be grateful for, despite the challenges we face. We also want to recapture for our repeat guests their favorite Anguilla experiences, and reveal what awaits our potential visitors, once they are ready to travel again.”
 
In addition, the With Love From Anguilla series will feature special messages from popular Anguillian personalities, exciting virtual tours of Anguilla both by land and sea, including the island’s magical underwater world, and a mouth-watering  Anguillan BBQ, set in one of the most beautiful, secluded spots on the island round out the content calendar in development. The Anguilla Book Club, featuring stories and books by Anguillians and about Anguilla was launched in May, traditionally the month of the annual Literary Festival.
 
The new content appears on all of the board’s digital platforms and will continue over the next three months. Everyone is encouraged to follow along and participate by using the hashtags #AnguillafromAfar and #DreamingofAnguilla.
 
For more information please visit the official website of the Anguilla Tourist Board.

And you can follow on Facebook: Facebook.com/AnguillaOfficial

Instagram: @Anguilla_Tourism 

Twitter: @Anguilla_Trsm

Hashtag: #MyAnguilla

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Anguilla, located in the Caribbean, has a reputation for offering plenty of romance. Photo ATB

About Anguilla
Tucked away in the northern Caribbean, Anguilla is a shy beauty with a warm smile. A slender length of coral and limestone fringed with green, the island is ringed with 33 beaches, considered by savvy travelers and top travel magazines, to be the most beautiful in the world.

A fantastic culinary scene, a wide variety of quality accommodations at varying price points, a host of attractions and exciting calendar of festivals make Anguilla an alluring and entrancing destination.

Anguilla lies just off the beaten path, so it has retained a charming character and appeal. Yet because it can be conveniently reached from two major gateways — Puerto Rico and St. Martin — and by private air, it’s a hop and a skip away.

writersblock5@hotmail.com

@sthomas10


 


 

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