Visitors flocked to the Cayman Islands in 2018, breaking records for the total number of stayovers who made Cayman their vacation destination.
With the final numbers still to be calculated, the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism recently released visitor numbers for the first 11 months of 2018, announcing that 410,984 stayover visitors enjoyed a Cayman holiday during that timeframe. This represents an 11.26 per cent increase over the first eleven months of 2017 and is the highest number of stayover visitors in recorded history. Total visitation for the year 2017 was 418,403.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Tourism, Moses Kirkconnell, attributed the growth in arrival numbers to the resilience of the Cayman Islands through strong stakeholder partnerships, high investor confidence and a national commitment to the development of infrastructure.
“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 said.
In particular, Cayman saw an upsurge of visitors from the United States towards the latter part of 2018 due to increased airlift, with November air arrivals into Cayman the best in record history for that month, with a total of 38,172 visitors, which is a 9.07 per cent increase over 2017.
Visitor numbers from the south east part of the US increased sharply, with a 19.44 per cent rise over 2017, buoyed by the addition of JetBlue’s daily service from Fort Lauderdale in October. Visitors from America’s north east region increased by 6.42 per cent, bolstered by an increase in flight capacity from JetBlue and Cayman’s own Cayman Airways. Visitors from the south west US recorded a 16.3 per cent increase over 2017, while the west coast and midwest region recorded 15.97 and 4.55 per cent increases respectively. Air arrivals from Canada also showed strong performance, at an increase of 13.27 per cent over November 2017. The Department of Tourism said that continued efforts to grow the Latin American market were also fruitful, as visitation grew by 10.3 percent.
Growth continuing into 2019
It is anticipated that key events taking place early in 2019 will help to sustain the growth of tourist arrivals well into 2019, according to the DOT, including the annual Cayman Cookout which attracts foodies from all over the world to mix and mingle with some of the world’s top chefs and wine experts, as well as the ever-popular Taste of Cayman. The music, food and entertainment festival KAABOO Cayman is set for mid-February and will host top musicians and bands, including The Chainsmokers, Duran Duran, ZEDD and Jason Derulo and is expected to give a huge boost to tourism figures for 2019.