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Cayman Islands Sees Strong First Quarter Visitation for 2024

Front Pages 06 May, 2024 Follow News

American Airlines

Director Rosa Harris

The Cayman Islands welcomed 137,094 stayover visitors between January and March 2024 – the second highest visitation figure for this period in the islands’ history only surpassed by the same period in 2019 representing a 13.4% increase from 2023 or 94% of 2019’s record number.

For the first quarter of 2024, the United States remained the primary source market for stayover visitors contributing 83% of the total visitors.

Canada remained the second largest source market with 8.3% of visitors. The third highest percentage of stayover visitors in this period came from the UK & Europe who represented approximately 5% of all stayover visitors at a 14.9% increase for the quarter when compared to 2023. Visitors from Latin America represented 1.1% of the overall visitation total, but the number of visitors from the region grew by 21.4% over the same period in 2023.

March 2024 Performance

The Easter holidays fell during the month of March contributing to it being the standout month for the first quarter of 2024 with 57,040 stayover arrivals. This was a 23% increase from March 2023 and the second highest monthly visitation in the destination’s history.

Visitors from the United States accounted for 48,171 of all stayover arrivals, a 26% increase compared to the previous year with the Midwest and Northeast regions of the United States showing the strongest growth.

The UK and Ireland also showed resilience in March with a 21.2% increase in March arrivals year over year.

“These first quarter visitation results show that demand for travel to the Cayman Islands is high,” said Hon. Kennth Bryan, Minister for Tourism and Ports “And with the increased room stock that Hotel Indigo’s opening in May will bring we look forward to seeing more tourists arriving and filling those rooms.”

Airlift

Stayover visitation between January and March of 2024 was buoyed by an increase in airlift capacity with 243 more flights coming into the Cayman Islands during this period than the same period in 2023.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the destination had 226,270 inbound airline seats in the first quarter of 2024 from the USA, Canada and the UK & Ireland representing a 21% increase or 39,993 more seats than the same period in 2023.

With aviation as a top priority for the destination, in March Director Rosa Harris led a Cayman Islands Delegation with tourism officials and representatives from the Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CAA) to Routes Americas, the region’s leading air service development event, in Bogota Colombia, where they held more than 20 meetings with airlines and airports operating in the Americas region.

“We are pleased with the increased airlift in the first quarter of 2024, but it is important that we continue to seek out business development opportunities for the Cayman Islands,” said Director Harris. “Aviation conferences like Routes Americas give us a platform to deepen our relationships with existing carriers and develop relationships with new carriers to ensure a steady stream of visitors to our islands throughout the year.”

CIDOT’s Promotional Goals: Expanding Markets and Flattening Seasonality

As stayover visitors flocked to the destination in the first quarter of 2024, tourism officials from the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism (CIDOT) ventured off island on a global roadshow focusing on media and trade engagement and expansion into new markets as part of the destination’s tourism recovery strategy.

Representatives from CIDOT led by the Deputy Director International Marketing and Promotions, Gary Hendricks-Dominguez, attended the North American and European versions of International Media Marketplace (IMM) in New York, London and Berlin. These conferences allowed the destination to meet with more than 90 media and influencers working in the travel space to secure ongoing coverage and media placement in marquee publications and ensure that the Cayman Islands continue to be showcased as a “must visit” destination on social media.

IMM Berlin also saw CIDOT partner with local distiller Cayman Spirts on a cocktail reception that showcased their range of rum to the German market to highlight their recent distribution in Germany and invite a captive audience of European journalists and influencers to enjoy a taste of the Cayman Islands and learn more about the destination.

Deputy Director Hendricks-Dominguez also led a delegation to ITB Berlin the world’s largest travel and tourism conference with more than 100,000 attendees including wholesalers, travel advisors, tourism technology companies and journalists visiting the show over three days. The destination had a Cayman Islands branded booth at the conference with space for partners: Marriott Grand Cayman Resort, Wyndham Reef Resort and VIDA Cayman Islands to conduct meetings. The Cayman delegation had approximately 60 meetings over the course of the three-day show.

Remarking on the destination’s recovery strategy, Director Rosa Harris stated, “Our ultimate goal is to return to and exceed 2019 levels of visitation, and with the positive results for the first quarter of 2024 we are on pace to do that.” She continued, “Starting in 2023 with the World Travel Market in London, this is the first time that the Cayman Islands has had an independent presence at some of the World’s biggest travel shows, and that decision has already paid dividends demonstrated by the UK & Ireland’s significant increase in arrivals year-on-year.”

As well as expanding the Cayman Islands presence through exhibitions and promotional events, the destination plans to engage with local partners to ensure their presence at critical travel conferences and trade shows throughout 2024.

“Our competition is also aggressively in the marketplace so we will continue to be purposeful and strategic with our placement and attendance in 2024,” commented Director Harris. “Partner participation in these shows highlights the industry’s commitment to working with CIDOT and we look forward to engaging with them as they help us develop new markets to grow visitation and flatten our seasonality.”


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