Year end stats reveal lowest cruise visitors since 2001

| 25/01/2010

(CNS): The Department of Tourism has now revealed the full statistics for visitors in the Cayman Islands for the year 2009. While it was no surprise given the global recession that both air and cruise arrival figures were down on 2008 only 1,520,372 cruisers visited Cayman the lowest number since 2001 when 1,214,757 passengers docked in George Town. The decline in numbers will add further fuel to the argument for the development of cruise berthing in the islands’ capital which will allow for larger ships to berth in the Cayman Islands in future boosting passenger numbers.

Following improvements in air arrivals last year with an increase to 302,879 from the 2007 high of 291,503 air arrivals for the whole of 2009 fell to 271,958.

 Speaking to the Cayman Business Outlook conference last week the premier and Minister for Tourism said that when the UDP came to office the state of tourism was worse than imagined and he criticised the previous administration for counting passengers flying into Grand Cayman in order to transfer on to flights to Cuba as visitors to the Cayman Islands. Announcing his intention to begin placing the country’s tourism product on a new footing McKeeva Bush said he had appointed Cline Glidden MLA to head up a new commission to look at the problems the sector was facing.

“When the current Government came into office in May 2009, our preliminary assessment revealed that the situation was perhaps even worse than anticipated. To say the least, it was complex and challenging – almost a full 12 months of declining visitor arrivals, increasing unemployment in the sector and a contraction of some businesses or complete closure of others,” Bush observed.

He said the public sector side of the tourism industry was fragmented and not working in alignment, there were leadership gaps in various tourism related agencies and companies, international marketing strategies were being developed insularly, the National Airline and the Department of Tourism were out of sync, and perhaps most disturbing, he added that there was no clear vision and plan for the tourism industry.

“We as the public and private sector leaders of the country need to be clear on how the primary industries of financial services and tourism will support and sustain our economic viability, the quality of life for those of us who live and create a sustainable socio-economic model for this and future generations of Caymanians, residents and guests to the three Cayman Islands,” Bush added.

During his presentation the premier said the government had already set about developing a turnaround plan for tourism to attract people back to the Cayman Islands. “We need to create alignment across the public and private sectors, and ideally alignment, where appropriate and important, between financial services, tourism and real estate and infrastructure development. This includes what Brand Cayman stands for and where we want it to be in 2012 – for the three Cayman Islands.  It includes strategically leveraging our assets, such as the National Flag Carrier, Cayman Airways and being committed to delivering excellent service,” Bush stated.

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  1. Lachlan MacTavish says:

    Agree with ANON…….The old Cayman theory "build it and they will come" should not justify a huge expense for the people along with the possible damage to the beach and environment.

    Why not accept the smaller ships and numbers. Whu keep piling to many people into the infrastructure. Let the existing businesses sink or swim on the present numbers.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Less cruise passengers is possibly a good thing. There would be less low-income visitors to clutter up the island, thus making it more enjoyable for those who pay the big money and stay in hotels and condos. Many of the cruise passengers pick up their tickets at last minute "fire sales" and can barely afford the taxes and extras on the ships, much less afford to spend money in the local shops. It’s time we put less effort in attracting these low-income visitors and focus on making the local experience for those who really contribute to the local ecomomy, a much better one.

  3. Anon says:

    The decline in numbers will add further fuelto the argument for the development of cruise berthing in the islands’ capital which will allow for larger ships to berth in the Cayman Islands in future boosting passenger numbers.

    Really?  I would have thought it poured water on the new cruise berthing facilities bonfire.  In most countries you’d have to have a real business case to get the necessary permissions/consents, and part of that business case would be to prove you have sufficient cruise ships and passengers to justify the expense of building the additional facilities.  This is the first time I’ve heard of a drop in trade fuelling a fire to build new facilities!

    Just an observation.

  4. HuH? says:

    "The decline in numbers will add further fuel to the argument for the development of cruise berthing in the islands’ capital which will allow for larger ships to berth in the Cayman Islands in future boosting passenger numbers."

    More likely it would strenghten the arguments against such berthing facilities.

  5. logic says:

    And do not forget to deduct the ships that came here specifically because they were not allowed to berth in Mexico. We seem to have forgotten that.

    • Anonymous says:

      Know what Bushie needs to do? OK remember the old Galleon Beach Hotel, the La Fontaine etc etc, well they were staffed with the good ole West Bayers who treated the tourists so good that they always came back. Bushies sister Clara was one that worked at the hotels, our dear precious friend Mrs Eudell,Nella Janes family and the list goes on . I recently heard of an available position in Tourism that was being sought by one of those same West Bayer and it was not given to her, what a shame. I AM ANXIOUS TO KNOW WHO REALLY GOT THAT POSITION.

      • Anonymous says:

        It is a shame how these jobs are given. Tourism needs to be staffed with the good old fashion Caymanians who sold Cayman many years ago when we had a much coveted Paradise. When such a good reliable friendly intelligent Caymanian who needed that job so much and had worked in Tourism before with such a good reputation one would think that they would have employed her right away. I GUESS THEY PREFER FOR HER TO GO TOSOCIAL SERVICES AND GET SOME VOUCHERS. GO GIRL AND FORGET ABOUT WORKING LIKE ALL THE OTHERS. WHAT A DISGRACE. I DONT THINK THAT PREMIER KNOWS ABOUT THIS ONE, AND BY THE WAY I THINK THAT THAT SHE IS HIS COUSIN.