GT suffers worst cruise arrival numbers in a decade

| 10/09/2011

(CNS): Although government was celebrating improvements in stay over tourism this week, the cruise passenger statistics released by the DoT paint a very different picture. Only 77,735 passengers docked at the George Town harbour in July, which is the lowest number of people calling on Grand Cayman since Ivan struck in September 2004 when the island was closed to tourists. It is also the worst July since the year 2000, when only 61,328 passengers arrived. The fall of almost 33% in cruise numbers on this time last year is a direct result of the cruise liners diverting the new larger ships which are plying the Caribbean to destinations with berthing facilities.

Air arrivals, however, continue to grow with figures improving by some 7.5% this month on July 2010 with 31,407 arrivals, the highest since July 2004.

Stay-over visitors were up for the tenth month in a row  and McKeeva Bush who, is tourism minister as well as premier, said the figures were even more significant when considered against the fact that the figures for December last year were the highest for any December since the year 2000

"From February through May our tourism statistics have continued to improve and for the month of June, air arrivals were up by 7.6 percent, over June 2010. This represented the third strongest June arrival figure in 10 years. Furthermore, for the month of July, arrivals from the US are up 7.4 percent over last July, and there is a dramatic 72.1 percent increase in arrivals from Canada this July, over what we were seeing in July 2010," he said.

Shomari Scott, Acting Director of Tourism, said the growth was gratifying, particularly during these tough economic times, and illustrated that the steps being taken by the DoT were working. Working more closely with industry partners, realigning CAL and introducing new routes to boost capacity are paying dividends.

“By working with CITA and other industry partners, the department has launched a number of new initiatives and promotions that are designed to drive visitation and support local businesses and service providers. Clearly, these are delivering the desired results, as the latest tourism figures demonstrate that the Cayman Islands remains a sought after destination for families, divers, weddings and honeymoons and those simply seeking sun, sea and sand,” he said.

"As we move into the fall season a series of new promotions, including the Visiting Friends and Relatives, Dive Madness and Pirates Week deal, will be on offer to travellers to maintain the positive trend,” he added, stating that if the momentum is maintained through the end of the year the islands could achieving the goal of attracting 300,000 air arrivals in 2011.

The improved air statistics were mostly down to continued increases in passengers from Canada and North America. 1,239 people flew in from Canada this July compared to 720 in the same month in 2010, which is an increase of more than 72%. Almost 800 people visited from the US, representing a 7.4% increase from that region.

Occupancy rates at both hotels and apartments, however, did not improve on last year as in July 2010 hotels were more than 70% occupied compared to a rate of 67.2% this year. Occupancy at apartments was almost the same as July 2010 which was 47.7% and this year it was 47.6%, suggesting that the extra visitors arriving by air are staying with friends and family.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I hope that the numbers aren't reflecting intransit arrivals with destination to our neighbor to the north.  I believe the flights are 3 times a week and the people only spend approximately 30 minutes in Cayman airport.  So at approx 200 people per flight and 6 flights a week (two entries) this could equate to approximately 5,000 arrivals a month that don't spend any time or money in Cayman.  While I applaud CayAir don't think these should be considered stay over tourism.


    • Anonymous says:

      This has been going on for years with US citizens transitting through Cayman for Cuba to avoid travel restrictions.

      In the past the lawyers, accountants, businessmen and whatever booked rooms in Cayman to get receipts to cover their movements but now it seems they just head straight through ORA for Havana.

  2. Anonymous says:


    Three surgeons are discussing who makes the best patients to operate on.
    *The first surgeon said, "Electricians are the best, everything inside is color coded."
    *The second surgeon says, "No, I think librarians are,everything inside them is in alphabetical order"
    *The third surgeon shut them up when he said: "You're all wrong. Politicians are the easiest to operate on. There's no guts, no heart, no balls, no brains, and no spine. Plus, the head and the ass are interchangeable.”

  3. Puff the Magic Iguana says:

    Legalise weed and go for the drug tourist dollar.  Sales of pizza will rocket.

  4. Anonymous says:

    How about more local music or at least reggae music played in the local establishments? I do not travel to an island to listen to music I can hear back home! Also, it would be nice to be able to walk a boardwalk type thing after dinner and check out little shops with local goods and food,  eat an ice cream, watch some local entertainment or just sit under some palms and watch the sunset. A trolley car system or ferry system up and down 7MB so I do not have to rent a car would alsobe wonderful. I rent a car just to go up and down 7MB at night. Publish sporting events such as cricket, football, etc. so that as a tourist I would be able to catch a match. There are so many possibilities that would not cost alot of money if someone was a bit creative. Check out Harbour nights in Bermuda or the tourist strip in Barbados. Those two islands always strike me as having something to do for least things published. Just my 2 cents.

    • Anonymous says:

      MUAH!  I no longer feel alone in wishing for these things  I've made the same points here on CNS countless times  before  – thank you!

    • Anonymous says:

      How can you compare, apples, oranges, and yams? Two are fruits and one is a starch totally different categories.  Bermuda and Barbados think long term planning for future generations while Cayman on the other hand thinks in 4 year political term for the future of politicians and their generations only.

    • Two Wrist says:

      As long as the music suggestion is rejected the rest seems really good.  The welcome music at the airport gives the impression that tourists are arriving in tacky desperate tourist hell.

      • Anonymous says:

        Wasn't speaking about the band music at the airport (LOL), but more like shows (i.e. in Jamaica you can go from club to bar to beach and find live entertainment). Would love to see some of that in GC. When I first started going to GC yearsago, at least you could find steel drum band performances at Treasure Island and some local bands playing…and the club DJ's on Wednesday nites were fun! Something along the lines of that.

      • Anonymous says:

        I think every island I have touched down on has the "tacky" airport band….and , you know….after being stuck in the snow… isn't all that bad. It just makes you feel like…ah, I arrived!


  5. Anonymous says:

    I'm ok with this. Let Mexico have them.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Message to the minister of Tourism, resign now.

    • Anonymous says:

      what minister of tourism? you dont have one…thats the problem right there….the place needs and deserves a dedicated minister of tourism who answers to nobody but an annual budget….let him have the entire DOT at their disposal….and sort the cruise tourism mess ASAP….these cruise passengers deserve more than we give them, a lot more…and they are easy to market to and bring back in the coming years as stay-over tourists…this is not rocket science……we have a million people coming to our shores on these boats….we should be converting them to future stay-overs…..but there's nobody in charge…nobody focused….nobody doing much about anything really…..

  7. Anonymous says:

    Crime Problem is #1. Unless it is stamped out we have nothing. Return it to the peaceful place it was if that is possible. Need to educate our "Cayman ambassadors"  who interface with the tourists as well. Yesterday I was at starfish point. A bunch of the small inflatables zodiac type boats showed up. About 6 or 7 from one of the hotels I think. The "Tour Guide" collects about 1/2 dozen starfish and throws them up on the beach for the tourists to get their pictures taken with. The Tour Guides gets repremanded for leaving the starfish out a water and proceeds to "lip off" to the people concerned. Then "skips" the starfish back into the water and proceeds to use the beach for his own personal ashtray. No Respect. How about learning something so the tourists can take something away with them other than think we are all idiots. Also how many tourboats have closed head systems? Do they pump out or do they blow it out in the water? There is a lot of algae in the areas those boats operate and my guess is that all of boats not run by the hotels are pumping out the affluent

    • Anonymous says:

      The affluent do not need to be pumped out, they are leaving on their own accord. The effluent, on the other hand, have been elected to high office and they appear determined to stay.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Below is a link to arrival statistics for whole Caribbean for Q1 2011.  Cayman's pier predicament is irrelevant since tourism is down GLOBALLY.  If anything Cayman is actually holding up better than many of "our peers", even without a "pier".  Compare 2010 to 2011 stats:

    Interestingly, those destinations with Genesis Class tendering would have seen only a modest boost in revenue during peak Q1 Tourist season.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The only way to attract more cruise ship tourists is to give them what they want:

    -A dock.

    -Affordable prices.

    -A caymanian experience.

    Cayman hasnone of them.

    Same principal goes for organised crime. Take away their source of income: Legalize pot, legalize prostitution and offer 1500 per gun.


  10. Industry Insider says:

    If you want to see why cruise lines are deserting Cayman look at a map.

    In times of high fuel prices and tight profit margins George Town represents a lengthy and very costly diversion, literally a road to nowhere, on cruise itineraries

    It isn't going to get better if you build the dock so you better move on and start gearing up for the only viable alternative, mass stopover tourism, while there's still time. 

    • CaymanFisting says:

      I suggest you take your own advice and look at a map. The majority of cruise ships also stop in Jamaica. Grand Cayman is not a “costly diversion” nor is it a “road to nowhere”.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Ask Shamari and big mac who gettin all the cruise ship tourist….nah Smatt!! and now it will be Dart also.

  12. Anonymous says:

    More lies with overstay tourists. Stop the lies DOT or whoever , tourism will never be like how it was in the 90s. It has declined since the year 200 with Y"K propaganda scare tactics from the bully!

  13. Anonymous says:

    It would help if the Government kept us up-to-date on the progess of their plans for the GT finger piers.  I believe when the business owners witness those  first piles being driven into the seabed, they will produce a sense of relief and a renewed confidence in the future.


    What we have seen so far, the apparent result of party bickering, trough-positioning,and a dangerous complacency, provides much for our businessmen to lose sleep over. And all this was so easily avoidable. It has taken the reactive skills that only politicians have, to lead us into this inexcusable mess.

  14. Wasted away again.... says:

    In Margaritaville. There really is nothing more to do for cruise ship passengers in GT or elsewhere. Except shop for tacky tourist junk but maybe they like it that way. Familiar surroundings, etc. 'How was your vacation?" "We liked the Margaritaville in Montego Bay. And the one in Puerto Rico was nice. The Caribbean was awesome! hic." Jimmy Buffett has singlehandedly destroyed whatever ambience the Caribbean once had. But that's the American way turn everything into the lowest common denominator.

    Or should we try to attract a different sort of clientele? 

    The question is should we change our tastes, our cultures, and our way of life, to suit people with no imaginations?

    Turn the tables on the cruise ships-Disney World-floating malls. Attract people who will appreciate something different than what they left in Miami. 

    • Anonymous says:

      The American way, huh?  Who let them in?  Sure it hasn't become the Caribbean way too?  We control the borders here, last time I checked.

  15. Loopy Lou says:

    To be honest the crusiers shippers are not the tourists we should be focussing on attracting.  It is the high end overnighters we should be gunning for – so far they really only have one hotel to go to in Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is who DOT is always advertising to because they are the only people that can afford the Cayman Islands but people are looking bargains now and great service.  We have nothing to compete with what some othe rdestinations have.  Some have a whole island to themselves.  We need to change.

      • Jemima Puddleduck says:

        Just focus on the rich.  There are plenty of them.

        Bargains just attract the cheap.  We have too many of them coming off the cruise ships already.

        Cayman has virtually nothing to offer high end tourists other than those that dive.  We need to allow more playgrounds like the Ritzto be built to make up for our clear attraction deficit.

        • Anonymous says:

          Jemima Puddleduck :

          You can't sell something you don't have.  Like I said before all we have is high prices nothing more. Build up and we have what?  Another Miami?  We have nothing unique to offer except diving.  

          We are known for our diving so that is why the prices need to be reasonable.

        • Anonymous says:

          If you focus on the rich, you will lose me as a customer and I come down 2- 3x a year! and stay in your "budget" hotels. Please, don't lose me…….I love your island. I have been visiting since 1999.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Govt has taken the cruise ship arrivals for granted, for years, despite the many warnings.

    They only have themselves to blame

  17. Anonymous says:

    What do we expect when Cayman has turned into a Spanish Town. Then all the negativeness on these radio talksetc etc. Then if we listened to the recordings on thursday night at the LA and heard Ms Julie talking, my God what an arrogant person. I had to turn the radio off, I was most embarraseed. If Politicians canhave all that hate in their hearts what do we expect from the little hungry jobless guys out there. She was singing the out of MANY ONE  SONGS. No wonder we have so much crime after Politicians sold out Cayman. In their hearts they are feeling good with those fat salarys but what is foing to happen to their grand children? The money wont last to look after them. Senseless people. Listening to them all they were doing was campaigning for the next Election, and God help them if they dont get reelected and in high positions again. There will be crying time again. Lets get our Buck Owens cds ready.

  18. Caymanian Concern says:

    Thanks to ALL OUR POLITIICANS FOR THE PAST DECADE…We KNEW this was coming.  The Cruise Ship mucky-mucks TOLD US they would not come without a pier.  It did NOT need to be fancy, but they passengers did nto want the tenders anymore.  

    Did you listen?  No.  Could the solutioin have been swift and simple, yes.

    Instead our politicians started to fight over crony-contracts and buddies-who-build with bricks and how much of the pie they could slice up and pass around….in the meantime, the cruise ships found new, nicer places to go.

    Buh-bye.  You can blame your greedy lazy politicians 100% for this mess.  They were warned and did nothing.  They wanted the Ritz for a dock and now all anyone will be able to affords is a ritz cracker.



  19. Anonymous says:

    yeah you right they are taking the public bus for 2.50 us to go to Royal palms and grape tree. Thats very expensive! 

    But of course not the beer$5-6 , not the mixed drinks$8-10 , not the hamburgers$8-10, not the snorkelling gear $10-15, not the beach chairs $5-8, not the parasail ride or the wave runners$75-90. etc,etc. You right none of the items which i have named cost more then $100 except for the wave runners and the parasail . The wave runners can be gotten at $2500 per piece they can make 4-6 half hour rides at US 60-75 on a bad day. labour cost CI $5-8 per hour. Large second hand  busses starting cost US $35,000 own by one person. They make one trip up and one trip down they can hold 29 pass. even at CI $ 4 per person CI 116 times 2 isn't going to make their day . Now of course you 're going to say you need to make more trips ?  Can't too many busses. Special people can have more then one other people can't. The premier needed more votes. When you have one ship coming 3-4 days for 2 weeks out of a month. I would say more than 50% went home with nothing.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think what you're really saying is that Cayman doesn't handle the cruisers very well at any level. No doubt.

  20. Caymanian says:

    Yup, so how about a bus-stop at Camana Bay?  $2.00 gets you up the beach for a little sunshine on SMB Public beach ot Governor's Beach (free!) and $2.00 to Camana Bay to have an ice cream, shop, go up the tower, and $2.00 back to town for the ship???  It is what I would recommend to tourists.

    Also, if you have not been in the National Museum lately then you should take a look!  It is right there where the ships dock, it is air conditioned, the 8-10 minute long movie is a top quality production, and the exhibits are well displayed and educational.

    See?  Just look a little bit and you can be a tourist Ambassador!  

    I DO agree that our taxis are like an unbreakable union that are killing the tourism industry, but until we have other jobs where uneducated locals can make good money, we will remain at the mercy of this tourist rip-off.  (By the way, try to get to Dolphin Mall from Miami airport for under $50.00 roundtrip  taxi for a 10 minute ride….it is not just us, taxis do rip off tourists around the world.)

    • Anonymous says:

      Places I go, taxis are a great bargain.

      • Caymanian Concern says:

        Places YOU go?  Last year we cruised to Mexico and Honduras and both places were stuggling countries, but  tourist rip-offs with taxis….so have a good time in…Trinidad?

  21. Anonymous says:

    I bump into cruise ship visitors alot on a daily basis.  Biggest complaint I hear is there is nothing to see or do; and nowhere to eat or shop in thecentre of GT in the few hours they have on-island.  Oh, and the many tales of woe where they have been ripped off by taxi drivers – I can't believe the prices some of them are made to pay for relatively short journeys – no wonder they think "everything is soooo expensive".

    There are several suggestions in the Viewpoint article "All Roads Lead to Dartsville" that could most likely fix this.

    • BORN FREE says:

      Well done Mckeeva Bush (sarcasm!). You were so quick to blame the Chuckster & the PPM when cruise arrival numbers were down during their administration, I wonder what you have to say now! But knowing you & your track record you will no doubt be blaming the PPM for this terrible bit of news "GT suffers worst cruise arrival numbers in a decade"! But Mckeeva Bush, the worst cruise arrival numbers has happened under your disasterous watch & you are to blame! You are the premier & you are the Minister for tourism, & YOU ARE TO BLAME! You are a failure, & you are under investigation. Don't you think it is time for you to go?

      • Anonymous says:

        How old are you?  Do you see how many times you say 'blame'?  No wonder the children having nothing to look up to and go forward when the 'adults' are acting and talking worse than the children! 

        How do you expect children to learn respect and be educated when adults are talking like this.   Nothing is achieved by 'blame'.

        • Anonymous says:

          Anon 03:13, I hope you are referring to Mckeeva Bush because he is the one that always uses the word"blame"! He blames everybody but himself! The whole of Cayman is sick & tired of Mckeeva Bush's blame game, that is all he has done since he became the premier & it is time for him to stop it!

          • Caymanian Concern says:

            I'm sick of the two-party system and the back and forth "Blame Game".   What?!? are you 4 years old?

            If you support a party-system then YOU "Joe VOTER" are to blame for this mess as well.  Wake up!! Party politics was created to control the masses and keep the poor down, but party politics make promises so the poor keep voting.  If you really want change (and to stop the blame!) the voters of Cayman will not relect ANY of these bums that have been in office for the past decade, period.

            If a decent politician alinged himself with a party because they were too weak to stand on their own, then SHAME on him.

            This tourism mess is soley due to ALL of us letting our politicians run and ruin this country.  The tourism "product" should be driven by the private side and let customer service and q qualitiy service weed out the weak.  LESS Government, more service = happy tourists

        • BORN FREE says:

          I hope you are not talking about my comment Anon 03:13, because I am simply talking about Mckeeva Bush & blaming only Mckeeva Bush. He always blames someone else, even for his own shortcomings & failures, but I only blame him. Yes, I use the word blame alot but that is only in talking about the "king of blame" Mckeeva Bush. Don't you think it is time for Mckeeva Bush to stop blaming others. He has been the premier for over 2 years now, isn't that long enough to take responsibility?

      • Anonymous says:

        If only we had a Minister of Tourism that busied himself with developing and promoting our tourism product rather than making nasty speeches about people who don't agree with him, both in and out of government.


        • Anonymous says:

          The posts McKeeva holds require individual, undivided attention to get results.  However it is common for certain types of Premiers of overseas territories to take the ministries and departments that give them the greatest control over the country and the most opportunities for entertainment, travel and XXXXX.  This is why Kurt did not take them – because he's not interested in any of that.  He took departments that run themselves so he could focus on the big picture (something no one is doing at the moment).  The result is that our key industries are being neglected while the highly paid ministers are not actually required.


          Just another small way in which the PPM provided the country with a higher standard of government, and the voters decided they didn't much care for that as long as someone was building something shiny.  We're seeing the results now.  

    • Anonymous says:

      Well you know, there is obviously a plan by someone for GT.  Why is it emptying?  Cos somebody has had a plan for a long time for GT.  Once upon a time, there was a story that in Bermuda everybody goes outside of town to party and in Cayman they go into town.  Well, why is there is nothing in town anymore and when did this start to happen and why?  What is going to happen to George Town? Somebody has a plan for a long time that has not yet been told.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yup.  Makes you wonder if they're gonna dump GT as they did BT, and make Camana Bay the islands 3rd capital!

      • Anonymous says:

        and I think we all know who