By Lindsey Turnbull
Cayman’s tourism leaders are hoping for accommodation revenues this year to get to 40% of what they were in 2019, i.e., pre-pandemic, as outlined by Travel and Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan as he hosted the World Tourism Organisation and International Air Transport Association conference this week.
Between January and June, 2022, the Cayman Islands welcomed more than 114,000 stayover visitors, which represented 41% of the air arrivals recorded over the same period in 2019, he advised, with visitation numbers “moving in the right direction” on an upward trajectory, indicating that Cayman’s tourism recovery was strengthening.
“In June, arrivals were at the 26,000 mark, rising to over 32,000 in the month of July. Our July arrivals represent 63% of where we were in July 2019,” he advised.
As 2019 was Cayman’s best year ever for tourism, the country was challenging itself by using the highest bar ever, as a comparison.
In 2022, the USA remained Cayman’s main source market, accounting for approximately 80% of stayover arrivals, with the top three performing States being New York (11.0%), Texas (10.9%) and Florida at 9.7%.
Data was indicating that visitors were staying longer, thereby benefitting hotels and businesses within the tourism sector, translating into a greater economic impact.
48.1% of stayover guests were repeat visitors, 3.5% higher than the same period in 2019, while room rates had returned to pre-pandemic levels.
“Though we have a long way to go to get back to pre-pandemic arrivals, the month-on-month increases demonstrate that for every key performance indicator, the needle is moving in the right direction,” Minister Bryan said.
There would be a 1% increase in airline seats in 2022 when compared to the fourth quarter of 2019. The net growth in seats was driven in part by increased American Airlines connections through Charlotte and Miami, Southwest’s strong feeder markets in Texas, United’s growth in Washington D.C. and Newark and a new non-stop route from the Baltimore-Washington gateway. The Cayman Airways new, non-stop service to Los Angeles was another exciting development.
Rooms in condos, villas and hotels, totalled 7,161, shared across the three Islands, with 6,728 in Grand Cayman, 268 in Cayman Brac and 165 in Little Cayman. Cayman had 23 hotels, 612 apartments and 316 guest houses. New accommodations online for completion within the next one to three years or so included: Vida Cayman, Kailani, Hotel Indigo, Grand Hyatt Hotel & Residences, One|GT Boutique Hotel, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Eco-Resort at Barefoot Beach, Revive (Healing Resort and Spa) and the Hotel & Canal Planned Area Development.
F&B and art
Cayman had recently seen the opening of eight new restaurants, five bars, five mobile food-stands, and two new minimarts. New experiences also include art galleries and studios, and the Ministry of Tourism hoped to provide more support to events such as Cayman Art Week, which had strong appeal to art lovers and enthusiasts, in the emerging ‘art tourism’ trend.
A revival of the Dream Cayman marketing campaign would soon be launched at Travel Marketplace in Puerto Rico next month and the campaign would be launched in autumn, the Minister advised.
A new tourism attraction was also being developed in the heart of George Town. Once completed, in 2024, it would integrate training, leisure, dining and entertainment in one central location.
“This Waterfront Tourism Experience will provide a home base to showcase our Caymanian culture, expressed through food, arts, craft and music. But most importantly, it will offer on-the-job training, and work experience for Caymanians in the tourism industry,” the Minister advised.
Since the port reopened to cruise ships in March, within the first three months there were 77 cruise calls carrying close to 213,000 passengers.
“This performance is encouraging and the feedback from the many Caymanian small businesses and entrepreneurs who work in this sector, has been positive. They are happy we have reopened, allowing their businesses to return to normal operations,” Minister Bryan said.
To ensure sustainability, the Ministry of Tourism had commissioned a cruise tourism strategy, a roadmap for redesigning the current approach. The focus, he said, was on quality, sustainability and capacity management.
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