Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands (1 October 2019) Newly released tourism performance statistics show that cruise passenger arrivals for the first half of the year are down by six percent. Other than January and April 2019 which saw increases of 24.12 percent and 2.17 percent respectively, cruise passenger arrivals have declined for every month of this year when compared to 2018. For the month of August 2019 cruise passenger arrivals were down 7.5 percent compared to August 2018.
“The decline in cruise arrivals is disappointing but not unexpected, said Hon. Moses Kirkconnell, Minister for Tourism. “A significant number of Caymanians are employed within our cruise sector so when passenger numbers go down month after month, these are the people that feel it the most.”
The Ministry has been advising the public that arrivals would fall as islands recover from the damage sustained during the 2017 hurricane season. As more of the region resumes normal operations this is the reality but knowing it was expected is providing little comfort to those whose livelihoods depend on cruise passengers.
“The reality is that our economy is service based and we depend on the market being brought to our shores. If that market declines we don’t have many options for our people to fall back on to maintain themselves and their families”, the Minister said.
“Government has an obligation, one that it takes very seriously; to do the very best we can to provide our people with stable employment and opportunities to be successful. In the case of stayover tourism, strategies were implemented to level out seasonality and this is paying dividends through record breaking arrivals year round. Months that were historically viewed as ‘slow season’ are now bursting at the seams with visitor arrivals, which translates into increased and dependable income for businesses and workers in that sector of our service and hospitality industry.”
“The berthing facility would enable similar results to be accomplished in the cruise sector, the Minister continued. “As well as allowing the larger Oasis class ships to dock in George Town, cruise ship arrivals could be scheduled more consistently throughout the week which would assist in managing capacity and provide a steady and dependable income for cruise industry workers.”
As more of the mega-class ships replace the smaller, older vessels currently operating in the region, the Cayman Islands, as the only destination in the Caribbean and Central America without a berthing facility, is expecting to see cruise arrivals decline over time..
Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley echoed the Minister’s sentiment in a recent interview with a local news outlet.
“Cayman is a popular destination. We have been coming to Cayman for 50 years and hopefully we will continue to come for another 50 years, but at the end of the day you have to look at the reality of it. If we can’t create the infrastructure and facilities to better receive the guests as our ships get bigger, it is not unrealistic to think that volume of guests and the number of ships will decline,” Bayley said.
The Ministry of Tourism is planning a public meeting for later this month to discuss the cruise berthing facility and details will be announced soon.
For more information related to the cruise berthing project, please visit site www.supportourtourism.com.