The continued success story of overnight tourism reached record highs last month when a whopping 38,927 visitors flew into the Cayman Islands, largely from the United States. The figure represents the best air arrival statistics for April since the tourism department began keeping records. A 12.62% increase on April 2016, the number eclipsed the previous record for the month, which was 36,017 established in 2015. Year-to-date arrivals now stand at 150,164, a near 2% increase on the first four months of last year.
More than 82%, or almost 32,000 visitors, came in from the United States over the 30 day period, an increase of 16.78% on 2016, while 2,448 people came from Europe and another 2,254 from Canada.
The figures were welcomed by Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell, who said he was pleased but not surprised by the record-breaking results, as he took credit for the continued increase in stayover tourism.
“My ministry has worked extremely hard to achieve the right balance in terms of marketing and airlift, and since taking office in 2013, air arrivals have hit record-breaking highs more than a dozen times. This means that approximately one out of every four months has been a record breaker,” he said.
Air arrivals at the end of 2013 were the highest on record since 2001 and were 7.4% higher than 2012 but the minister said visitor numbers continued to soar. Rounding out a year of unprecedented increases, air arrivals for 2014 exceeded 2013, which was already a record-breaking year, by some 37,000 visitors.
In 2015, total stayover arrivals exceeded 385,000, which at the time was the highest figure for air arrivals in the Cayman Islands history. Seven out of the twelve months in 2015 registered their best totals ever. August, which is typically considered ‘slow season’, was included among the record breakers. For 2016, while the increase over 2015 was marginal, the year-end results still amounted to another record-breaking year.
Kirkconnell added, “While some of the growth for April 2017 can be attributed to the additional hotel rooms that have recently come on stream through the opening of the Kimpton Seafire and the Margarativille Resorts, the dramatic upswing in arrivals is due to a number of other factors all having a positive impact.”
He said the collaborative efforts of tourism department, Cayman Airways and private sector partners and joint initiatives stimulated the market.
“This targeted approach, coupled with Easter falling in April and spring promotions starting earlier this year, have all played a part in positively boosting arrivals. Given the continued upward trend, I am cautiously optimistic of achieving our goal of 400,000 stayover visitors in 2017,” the minister added.
A boost to arrivals is also expected next month when Southwest Airlines begins daily service from Fort Lauderdale on 4 June.