Tourism stats are true

| 02/09/2008

(CNS): Recent suggestions in the media and from members of the public that the Department of Tourism is massaging air arrival figures have been denied by the DoT, which says it will be offering an official response in the press very shortly. Tourism officials told CNS that the arrival figures come directly from the Immigration Department already categorised into visitor numbers based on the official documents filled in by all arriving passengers.

The statistics are made up of air arrivals who are staying in the Cayman Islands in local accommodation for at least one night. "Suggestions that almost one third of those arrivals are in-transit passengers wjo do not leve the airport is completely incorrect,” said one official, who added that the definition of passengers is decided by immigration regulations and direct transit passengers are simply not counted in the visitor numbers.

"There are always people who make mistakes and around 0.02% of the visitors may have stayed over night or they might not which is a reasonable margin of error,” added the official. A recent story in the media made the claim that a possible 30% of passengers arriving at Owen Roberts International never left the airport, which the DOT emphatically denied. “Its ridiculous,” said the spokesperson.

The department said the recent air arrivals are as accurate and true a picture of who is visiting Cayman and where they are from as it is possible to get. The arrival figures show on average a continued increase of around 9% in the numbers of air passengers visiting the island and the DoT said the rise in both visitors from Europe, which has increased by almost 16%, and Canada, which is up by more than 16%, reflect the campaign work that the department has been engaged in over the past few months.

“Given the economic down turn in the United States, rising fuel prices and an active hurricane season along with various other issues, the Cayman Islands is doing exceptionally well to keep the air arrival figures growing, and that is what we intend to keep doing,” said the official, adding that the forthcoming tourism conference in September, which takes place on the 18 and 19 September, provides all the people of Cayman, not just tourism stakeholders, with the opportunity to find out exactly what the department has been doing.

“We have made some incredible strides this year and we hope that the wider community will come to the Tourism Conference and find out for themselves exactly what has been achieved so far and exactly what mitigating strategies the department has been and will continue to engage in to fight this current economic situation,” the tourism official added, noting that many stakeholders in the tourism sector are confirming that business is reflecting the steady rise in air passenger arrivals.

According to the most recent statistics, more than 30,000 people visited Cayman in July compared to just short of 27,000 in July 2007.

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