(CNS): Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said he expects that more than 400,000 tourists will have visited the Cayman Islands by the end of this year, passing another record-breaking milestone and continuing the incredible successes in overnight tourism figures since he took over the ministry in 2013. During his contribution to the debate late Wednesday evening, Kirkconnell pointed out that the numbers were already at record levels when he took over in 2013, but since then a combination of targeted marketing, an increase in room stock and increased airlift had fuelled the continued growth.
“The people of these islands have every reason to be proud of the tourism industry’s performance,” he said, adding that, as the second pillar of the economy, it was shouldering great responsibility and was on target to do even better, delivering “beyond expectations”.
The minister revealed that last year the total visitor expenditure from cruise and overnight guests amounted to CI$627.8 million, and said Cayman was the tourism success story of the Caribbean, with the overnight tourism sector growing at an unprecedented rate. He said that this year growth is trending at an average of 5.2% over last year, with stay-over arrivals expected to cross the historic number of 400,000 people.
The minister explained that successful marketing and airlift management had also helped to spread the visitor number increases throughout the year, with slower months also exceeding all expectations. He pointed to September 2017, which he said was the best recorded September in history and for the fourth consecutive month was a recording breaking arrival. He said that $19 million more has circulated in the local economy as a result of the additional visitors alone this year.
Kirkconnell said the revenue was part of the “trickle-down” that helped create business opportunities as well as jobs for Caymanians in the sector, as he pointed to the need to get local people on the front line of the industry to ensure the Caymankind brand success continued.
A decline in cruise numbers was due to bad weather at the beginning of the year, he said, but have increased in recent months because of diversions from the storm-impacted islands. As a result, passenger numbers are expected to end the year in line with the 2016 figures.
The minister also spoke about the controversial port project as reported by CNS here.
See Kirkconnell’s full budget contribution below: