Stayovers reached the half million mark in 2019
A symbol of how strong Cayman’s stayover tourism product has become over the last decade, stayover visitor arrivals toppled the half a million mark for 2019, the Department of Tourism has advised.
The huge number of visitors (502,739 in total) who came to Cayman last year for a vacation via air was attributed to a steady growth in airlift and also in accommodation. This figure represented an 8.6 per cent increase over the same period in 2018 and was the highest number of stayover visitors in recorded history and tenth consecutive year of annual growth in stayover visits.
When broken down geographically, the number shows a marked in crease in vacationers from the United States (up 33,293 on 2018), 3,525 more visitors from Canada and 829 more from the UK. Although these figures are for Grand Cayman, the Sister Islands also saw increases in air arrivals, with Cayman Airways recording a seven per cent increase in air arrivals in 2019 (visitors and residents) at 62,911, while Little Cayman recorded the most arrivals ever at 30,537.
Rosa Harris, Director of the Department of Tourism, said the rise of the ‘homeshare’ segment of new licensed tourism accommodation properties (such as Airbnb and Vrbo) had contributed to the increase in numbers.
“It is a great sense of accomplishment that the Department of Tourism is able to help the general public understand that tourism involves everyone. We remain committed to embracing travel trends early and ensuring that the Cayman Islands stay ahead of the curve when it comes to giving our visitors the idyllic dream sun, sand and sea vacation,” she said.
In addition to this newly developing segment of accommodation offerings in Cayman, increased airlift had also played a significant role in the stayover tourism growth.
Calling airlift Cayman’s “oxygen”, Ms Harris said: “My team and I invest significant effort to maintain and grow strong aviation partnerships to ensure that airline capacity and flight frequency throughout the year are maintained and increased wherever possible. This ever-increasing ease in accessibility for our visitors, paired with the exceptional Caymankind service and experience unique to our country, enable us to grow the business and set visitation records.”
Airlift from key visitor source markets showed significant expansion in 2019, the DOT said, whether through increased service or new airlines flying into the country. Airlift expansion included Cayman Airways returning to Denver in December 2019 through August 2020 with a twice weekly service, American Airlines putting on an additional seasonal service from Boston and new service from JFK in 2020, Sunwing launching a service from Toronto, Canada for February 2020 and British Airways introducing an extra flight on Tuesdays, among others.
Ms Harris said she would continue to focus on source market diversification, new partnerships, and innovative destination marketing plans to continue to drive the record-breaking successes for the Cayman Islands in the new decade ahead.