"Maintaining an upward trajectory is good for our economy, good for business and good for the people of the Cayman Islands," says Hon Deputy Premier and Minister for Tourism Moses Kirkconnell.
"I would like to extend my thanks to all of our tourism industry partners that consistently work alongside the
Ministry and Department of Tourism help to achieve these impressive results."
Just 2 months after achieving the highest visitor arrivals for any April on record, the Cayman Islands tourism sector continues to outperform expectations. Air arrivals for June were up 12.84% over the corresponding period in 2016, equating to 38,729 visitors, or an increase of 4,407 passengers. Visitation
from the USA once again topped the charts, up 18.85% over June 2016 and accounting for 82% of total stayover arrivals year to date. The Latin America region, which includes Brazil and Argentina was also up 45.22% over June 2016, while Canada and Europe were down 8 and 24 percent respectively.
Referencing the double-digit increase, Minister for Tourism, Hon. Moses Kirkconnell stated that the sector’s strong performance is being driven by a range of factors all working together for maximum impact. By way of example, he noted that the new route between Grand Cayman and Fort Lauderdale launched
on June 4th has increased airline capacity, enabling the Southeast region of the USA to be serviced more effectively.
"On the promotional front, the Department of Tourism has worked very hard to ensure promotions such as Summer: Only in Cayman were early to market and available to tour operators and trade partners well ahead of the official start of Summer season on June 1st. This led to strong growth across the US in
general and double digit increases from gateways such as Dallas and Houston in the Southwest, confirming that this approach effectively stimulated the market and placed the Cayman Islands top-of-mind with consumers," he said.
Commenting on the dip in European and Canadian arrivals, Minister Kirkconnell went on to explain that the downturn was primarily due to seasonality as well as economic factors such as fluctuations in currency.
"Travellers originating from the UK or Canada often stay home in Summer, preferring to visit warmer climates later in the year when their temperature drops. Additionally, those who would have travelled are finding their buying power is reduced and long-haul vacations are being postponed in favour of staycations or less expensive destinations closer to home. To help turn this around, the DoT is engaging with travel partners for value-added offers and they will also be working with BA Holidays in preparation for the Fall. Meanwhile, closer working relations with the Canadian travel trade and media are being pursued as well as tactical campaigns with Air Canada and WestJet," he said.
With stayover arrivals holding their own, renewed emphasis is also being placed on increasing the Cayman Islands presence in Latin America. Mrs. Rosa Harris, Director of Tourism confirmed that expansion into Brazil and Argentina has been part of the Department of Tourism’s longer term strategic goals for some time and they are satisfied with the headway being made.
"Travellers from Brazil and Argentina rely heavily on travel agencies and tour operators, and the Department is working with a local agency to help drive demand through these channels,"said Mrs. Harris. "Cities such as Sao Paolo and Buenos Aires have a high proportion of travellers who align with our desired demographic and are keen to visit our shores. Having successfully raised brand awareness of the Cayman Islands as a vacation destination, our focus is shifting towards accelerating growth in high value visitors from these regions, she continued. Capturing even a small percentage of the market would be very lucrative for our economy, since the travellers tend to gravitate towards the higher end of our tourism product and particularly enjoy diving, shopping and fine dining."
Given that tourism is not an exact science with specific formulas guaranteeing particular outcomes, Minister Kirkconnell said he is pleased with where stayover arrivals currently standand he remains optimistic that the 400,000 target will be achieved in 2017.