The Cayman Islands welcomed over 1.3 million visitors between January and June 2018, which represents an increase of 19.52 percent or 214,711 visitors when compared to the same period in 2017. While air arrivals were up 15.9 percent for the first half of the year, demonstrating an increase of 34,693 visitors, cruise passenger arrivals accounted for 81 percent of the Islands’ total visitation. This six-month performance comes on the heels of June’s record-breaking achievement as the best June on record for stay over visitation and marks the 15th consecutive month of growth in arrivals.
“I am very pleased that tourism performance in the Cayman Islands is registering consistent growth and continues to outpace projections,” commented Deputy Premier and Minister for Tourism, Moses Kirkconnell. “By applying the right marketing strategies, vision and spirit of collaboration to drive performance, the Cayman Islands tourism industry has maintained impressive, oftentimes, double-digit increases for a sustained period. This is helping to keep hospitality service workers employed throughout the summer and is also adding a significant boost to our Islands’ economy. Preliminary estimates from the Department of Tourism indicate that between January and May 2018, visitor spending from cruise and stay over arrivals contributed CI$325 million (US$400 million) to the national coffers – an increase of $45 million compared to the same period last year – and this is expected to further increase through June.”
Arrivals from the United States in June were up 13.89 percent and were driven by growth in the Midwest and Southwest regions, which saw 23.67 and 21.56 percent growth respectively. The Northeast saw an increase of 6.59 percent, while the Southeast and West Coast saw an increase of 9.82 percent and 1.61 percent respectively. Canada saw its 12th consecutive month of growth with an increase of 20.36 percent.
Additionally, to continued growth in 2018, the Cayman Islands and several local partners have been highly-awarded during the first half of the year with many accolades such as mentions in TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards, USA Today and Caribbean Journal.
Over the past six months, the Department of Tourism (DOT) has executed a multi-faceted marketing plan to increase brand awareness and flatten seasonality while also fostering opportunities for small businesses to play a part in the tourism product. In January, DOT launched its “Summer Only in Cayman” promotion, which, this year, leveraged Cayman’s position as the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean with a Kid’s Culinary Capital of the Caribbean promotion. The promotion invited families to savor the endless array of cuisines available on-island by an impressive roster of local chefs and included curated epicurean experiences for even the youngest of authentic culinary seekers.
In March, DOT signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Airbnb. The memorandum provided an opportunity for cooperation on key issues such as the sharing of aggregate data as well as the provision of information on relevant accommodations laws and regulations, which help to ensure all guests, regardless of accommodations, experience the same quality of product. There are now over 470 Airbnb properties registered with Airbnb and that number is expected to grow over the course of this year. Airbnb and DOT officials held a meeting for hosts on July 10, to engage this fast-growing sector of our local tourism industry.
“It is extremely encouraging to see growth in visitation for the first half of the year at a speed we have not seen since 2004,” remarked Director of Tourism, Rosa Harris. “As a Department, we are always looking for new, innovative ways to drive visitation while staying true to our commitment to creating sustainable tourism policies for the benefit of our people. Through continued engagement with local stakeholders and the wider community, I am optimistic that together we can create a national tourism plan that provides a blueprint for further successes.”
The Cayman Islands is poised to see continued growth throughout the second half of the year. DOT will soon roll out its annual “Fall Only in Cayman” promotion, which features compelling offers on everything from world-class accommodations to immersive land and sea experiences.
Check out this handpicked feature on Talking Business: Moses Kirkconnell.