The Caribbean is as popular as ever and the Cayman Islands is one place vacationers are clamouring for. Seven Mile Beach is regularly in polls for world top ten stretches of sand. It often tops surveys too.
Although flat and small, Cayman certainly punches above its weight. The figures prove it. Cayman had a record 2017 visitors and figures up to the end of November indicate that last year was even better and there is no reason to believe 2019 will not top that too.
Americans are regular visitors to Cayman as there are frequent flights now from Miami, New York and many other destinations. Don’t expect many American government workers to enjoy Cayman though because the partial shutdown has depleted their vacation cash.
Cayman welcomed a total of 410,984 stayover visitors in the first 11 months of 2018. That represented an 11.26 percent increase over the first 11 months of 2017 and was the highest number of stayover visitors in recorded history. Total visitation in 2017 was 418,403.
“The incredible growth in arrivals we have seen in 2018 is a testament to the resilience of the Cayman Islands through strong stakeholder partnerships, high investor confidence and a national commitment to the development of our infrastructure,” said Deputy Premier and Minister for Tourism, Moses Kirkconnell.
“The strategic efforts of the Ministry of Tourism and Department of Tourism must be continued, to ensure our islands take a holistic approach at addressing the needs of every visitor that graces our shore. I look forward to ending the year with record-breaking arrivals and continuing this momentum through 2019.”
He is right to expect sustained growth in the first quarter of 2019. Apart from all the regular early year attractions, the 11th annual Cayman Cookout, which unites award-winning chefs and winemakers with worldwide purveyors of gourmet food, returned to the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean over the weekend and was another massive success.
Taste of Cayman, a celebration of our culinary heritage, returns to the Festival Green, Camana Bay on Saturday. Then there is KAABOO Cayman next month which will welcome a glittering array of artists including Duran Duran, Blondie, Bryan Adams, Shaggy, Sean Paul, Jason Derulo; celebrity comedians Wanda Sykes, David Spade, Jenny Slate and Darrell Hammond and chefs Michael Mina, Richard Blais, Michell Bernstein and Nina Compton.
Cayman is not alone in the region to see substantial tourism growth. In fact, the whole of the Caribbean is seeing a huge increase in visitor numbers, and it’s not confined to mainly Americans and Europeans. The Chinese and Indians visitor numbers are increasing so much that at next week’s Caribbean Travel Marketplace in Montego Bay, Jamaica, the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association will host a large contingent of Chinese travel buyers.
Twenty companies will join more than 1,000 delegates registered for the event from Jan. 29-31. Delegates will come from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, India, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Poland, Puerto Rico, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States who will join about 80 returning buyer companies.
“The interest in Jamaica and the Caribbean is reflected in the number of buyers who are attending Marketplace from around the world,” said Matt Cooper of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association.
Cayman’s irresistible beaches, fine dining, superb hotels and range of water activities are its main drawing power. The rest of the Caribbean has that too and some also boast breath-taking landscapes and a cornucopia of vibrant cultures which is what woo visitors to the region every year. From luxury getaways to affordable adventure trips and festivals, each destination offers travellers its own unique culture and appeal.
Antigua and Barbuda sustained economic troubles in recent times, but its tourism industry is on an upward trajectory.
The beach-filled twin-island destination reported 268,949 stayover arrivals in 2018, an 8.75 percent increase over 2017 that was one of the highest growth rates in the Caribbean region. Combined with cruise passenger arrivals, the destination welcomed more than one million visitors in 2018.
Cuba is one of the most attractive spots, especially with Americans, although the partial government shutdown means that some will not be able to afford a Caribbean vacation this year.
Estimated 2017 stay-over of tourists to Cuba was 4.7m. Tourists are drawn to the mystique of Cuba, which has a pristine coastline, an abundance of parks and several UNESCO natural reserves. Cuba offers up an eclectic blend of old-world charm in its neoclassical and baroque architecture, mixed with post-modernist styles and natural landscapes. Havana is renowned for its lively entertainment featuring jazz and Latin music and dance, and copious amounts of rum-flavoured drinks. Also with plenty of vintage American cars, Cuba also has plenty of museums and art galleries that offer a window into the country’s rich history and culture.
Jamaica had 2.4 million stay-over tourists in 2017. From Negril’s Seven Mile Beach in the west to breath-taking waterfalls in the east, the Land of Wood and Water is one of the playgrounds of the Caribbean. People enjoy strolling the beaches of Montego Bay by day and dancing to the latest reggae music at one of the city’s nightclubs. Also, on the north coast there’s Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios, the prime attraction. In Kingston, visitors explore the life and work of Bob Marley and have lunch at Usain Bolt’s Tracks and Records. They can take a thrilling bobsled ride through the forest and go swimming with dolphins in Ocho Rios.
Barbados has always been for many the perfect winter getaway, especially Brits. Best time of the year is its legendary Crop Over festival in the summer. Visitors discover the natural appeal of the Welchman Hall Gully and Flower Forest or go on an intriguing exploration of Harrison’s Cave. Snorkelling, surfing, diving and paddle boarding are just some of the activities for the adventurous in Barbados.
The Dominican Republic is the biggest magnet in the region, attracting over six million visitors a year. With its seemingly endless white-sand beaches, it is a popular getaway for tourists in search of an idyllic vacation, plenty of outdoor adventure and a tinge of colonial history. From its jaw-dropping cliffs to peaceful mangrove lagoons, it’s easy to fall in love with the DR’s natural beauty and rich Spanish heritage. Bountiful palm trees complement the turquoise waters of popular Punta Cana to create the perfect postcard from this tropical destination. Outside of Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic offers an abundance of aquamarine adventures at Bahía de las Águilas and the Samaná Peninsula.
There are plenty more with their own unique attractions including Grenada, St Lucia, Dominica, the Bahamas, Martinique, Trinidad & Tobago… The Caribbean is not frequently called Paradise for nothing.