Visitor arrivals still growing

| 27/04/2011

(CNS): Despite fears that this summer could see a serious decline in tourism arrivals from cruise ships and complaints that the industry is suffering from low-visitor numbers, statistics compiled by the Department of Tourism tell a different story. The latest figures show that the number of passengers visiting the Cayman Islands continues to increase. Compared to last year and the year before, more people came to the islands via ship and air in the first three months of 2011 than in both previous years. March statistics released by DoT this week continue the steady upward trend. 37,466 people arrived by air and ships carrying 190,733 passengers docked in George Town harbour, a substantial increase on Mach 2010 when 35,642 people flew in and 177,664 cruised in to Grand Cayman.

The first quarter of 2011 is showing an 8.2% increase in cruise arrivals and a 6.8% in air passenger arrivals compared to the first three months of 2010.

Although many people dependant on the tourism business still have concerns that visitors are not spending when they arrive, the numbers of people visiting Cayman continues to climb.

So far 93,822 people have flown into Cayman, an increase of 5,981 this year for all over the world. The majority of visitors still come from the United States with some 73,383 passengers boarding flights there, according to survey results.

However, the biggest growth area continues to be from Canada, with an increase of 35.9% in the numbers of people flying in from that country. The biggest decline in air travellers, however, continues to be from the United Kingdom and Ireland, where figures have fallen again, this time by 2.3%.

Meanwhile, at the harbour front in George Town ships have docked carrying well over half a million passengers so far this year compared to around 472,000 for the first three months in 2010.

There are still concerns, however, that the new mega class of ships which will be sailing the Caribbean this summer will have a significant impact on cruise statistics and this may be the last quarter where the tourism sector enjoys an increase in passengers.

Royal Caribbean has stated that it will not tender its Oasis and Allure of the Seas ships and therefore without docking facilities the cruise liner will not include Cayman on the ports of call for those ships.

The recent decision by government to terminate its agreement with GLF to develop the much anticipated cruise berth facilities has raised further concern that the recent upward trend in cruise arrivals will soon turn into a serious decline for the long term. With no plans in place now for the pier project it could still be more than two years before the country could see the larger ships dock in Cayman. 

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Comments (11)

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  1. Lachlan MacTavish says:

    Stats are stats and can be spun by both sides. Unfortunately my experiences with the DOT and the Min of Tourism is that when you dig a little you always find a fly in the ointment. Transit flyers counted as arrivals/visitors, returning work permit holders from Honduras as visitors etc etc. The arrivals for both cruise and air/stay over are dismal. The Bush admin has ignored stay over for far to long. I guess Ryan is not building another hotel so a cruise dock is the way to go. Shame because Cayman has so much to offer for stay overs.

  2. Anonymous says:

    You can’t run a downtown retail business on just six months of cruise passengers (especially when you have to buy a one-year work permit!).  Stores are going to start to close for the summer months and the downtown tourist product for those that do come will be poor.  This in turn will hit the cruise blogs and decrease calls in season.  Further, a downtown with shut doors will encourage crime, reduce rents, and drive businesses away.  By the time Caymanians actually get their heads out of the sand, other islands will have gladly scooped up the tourists, the businesses, and yes, even the ex-pats.  Dart is rich, but he is not going to be able to save the country from its own arrogance.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Is this the same DoT team that compiled their cruise ship arrival figures from the ships’ manifests and then had to admit they didn’t have a clue how many of those people actually came ashore?

    I trust DoT figures about as far I could throw our esteemed Premier – and that ain’t far.

    This is part of the whole cruise dock spin and DoT should tread carefully because it could backfire on them.

    What could be easily corrected is, "The biggest decline in air travellers, however, continues to be from the United Kingdom and Ireland, where figures have fallen again, this time by 2.3%." There’s a good reason for that – Cayman is too damn expensive compared with the competition.

    Time for Cayman to join Cuba and Jamaica by pulling in the all-inclusive holiday operators like First Choice and Thomson – isn’t that what the people at DoT are paid to do?

    • The Original Anon says:

      This is the same DOT team that can’t seem to locate $64 million and can’t be bothered with looking for it.

  4. Caymanian Watersports Captain says:

    I too have seen a remarkable spike in business as a Caymanian Watersports Operator. I even had to purchase another brand new vessel to meet the demand, based on my positive tripadvisor reviews which brings me lot’s of business. I’m out almost everday, sometimes “back to back” with morning and afternoon private charters.

    What I’m hearing from our cruise ship passengers and stay over tourists is that they chose the Cayman Islands this year for vacation, over a much cheaper Mexico vacation. The violence/criminality is at an all time high in Mexico and locations such as Cancun, Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta are all suffering from what’s happening. I just had a lovely family who did a private charter with me from the cruise ship and their next stop was Cancun Mexico. I curiously asked them what they had planned in Cancun, and their reply to me was, “were staying close to the ship as we fear being kidnapped on a tour around the city and if a ransom is not paid, then being beheaded.

    It just shows us all, what happens in a country (Mexico) when you get such violence happening and being reported in the media, which ultimately effects their tourism product/economy “Big Time” !!!

    Tourists will spend good money in the Cayman Islands or elsewhere, but they want good service/care, a clean and well equipped vessel/vehicle and a clean enviornment in the country they visit. Most imortantly, they want personal contact with native people who knows the country best and can highly recommended area’s to visit on their vacation stay. The Cayman Islands will survive once the country’s people are friendly and helpful and it’s considered safe to move about anytime, day or night.

    • Anonymous says:

      I just came back from a 7 day holiday to Cancun instead of my usual GC. Why? Airfare/package was so much cheaper. At first, I was not that excited to go to Cancun, but it was very nice. Cancun was spotlessly clean, the people were lovely, the hotel was very nice, the food good, the water drinkable, the night life was excellent and the beach, beautiful! The only downfall was the ocean water was quite rough unlike lovely 7MB. I would definently return to Cancun. I stayed in an AI, but went out each night and walked around Cancun and felt very safe with friends and when I was out alone. The 7 day price which included airfare, hotel, food and drink was just over 1400. during a high season holiday. Excellent value.
      GC really needs to lower airfare and hotel values. We will come if we can afford the air and hotels. I used to travel to GC 3 x a year, but with the high prices, I have started to visit less and less which is very sad.

      • Anonymous says:

        Just priced out a 5 day stay for GC in slow season Aug., staying at the least expensive resort. $1465. with a 2 way stop, not including food or drink.

        Something has to give. Airfares have to drop!

  5. Anonymous says:

    LoL…….they are counting arrivals from La Ceiba and Havana. Watch what will happen with cruise tourism beginning this summer……..it will be a sad situation for merchants, employees, taxi and tour operators.

    If the arrivals were as great as they claim why is a major hotel like the Westin on Seven Mile Beach going into receivership ?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Very happy to hear more air travel but not so excited about more cruise ship passengers.  Maybe this whole thing will take care of itsefl if we don’t have a berthing facility.

    • Anonymous says:

      That is a very selfish remark,
      what is your interest in the overnight tourist…and what’s now wrong with cruise ship passengers? at some point they have been bringing jobs and money to the Island since 1980 or maybe it’s the berthing you are against.
      Remember, you are not the only person on this Island that needs food.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t make the mistake of thinking air arrivals will be up all the time. Remember it was the cruise ships that helped the local economy after the recession kicked in and after 9/11 when people were either broke and could not afford to travel or they were afraid to travel. Diversification is key for the tourism product.