Anguilla seeks to double visitor numbers

By Craig Brewin, Head of Research

Getting to Anguilla is getting easier. The Anguilla Government has always understood the importance of addressing the island's access difficulties if the growth in tourism numbers is to be maintained. "Getting there" is a problem associated with several overseas territories, but Anguilla has been the most successful in turning its exclusivity into an attraction. Unlike territories that compensate for low stay-over tourists by encouraging cruise visitors Anguilla has chosen to focus on high-spending tourists who stay in inclusive resorts. Whereas some islands were locked down during the pandemic, Anguilla decided to market its all-inclusive facilities as a safe haven for tourists.  

The territory is specifically targeting high end travellers from the USA and Canada and sees improving sea and air access and reducing journey times as crucial to that. The most common route into Anguilla is a ferry to the Dutch territory of St Maarten, which has an international airport servicing many international destinations. The onward journey then requires a bus or taxi to the ferry terminal on St Martin, the French side of the island. 83% of all arrivals to Anguilla arrive by sea, and 91% of those visitors entered at the ferry terminal. A flight from St Maarten to Aguilla is more expensive and takes seven minutes. 

The current airport

The new, proposed airport

The improvements to the sea and airports have been progressing well. The new Blowing Point sea terminal opened last year and replaced the temporary terminal that had operated since Hurricane Irma destroyed its predecessor. The airport project is also progressing. A digital rendering of the new terminal was presented to the public last month, with Premier Dr Haydn Hughes stating that it was designed by Anguillans and it will be "the envy of the Caribbean." 

The current length of the Clayton J. Lloyd Airport accommodates private jets and propeller aircraft, but it needs to be longer to accommodate larger aircraft and enable existing aircraft using the airport to have full passenger loads. Building work on the terminal is expected to commence early in the new year, with work on the runway due to begin in 2025. 

In presenting the rendering, Anguilla's Minister of Infrastructure and Tourism, Haydn Hughes, said, "We believe we can double the number of arrivals into the island". "Time is currency, and the length of time to arrive to our destination has proven to be consuming for many. The improved and expanded terminals will be able to facilitate larger commercial carriers from our most important gateways.”

The United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office is contributing up to £12million to the airport project which is expected to cost EC$270 million (£81million) in total.