Stay-over guests spend almost $½B in 2017

| 25/04/2018 | 58 Comments

(CNS): The Department of Tourism has revealed that the more than 418,000 stay-over visitors who came to the Cayman Islands last year spent almost half a billion US dollars during their trips and contributed US$31.5 million to the public purse in room tax. The guests’ estimated spend of US$498M was an increase of 15% on the money spent in 2016. Officials said that they are aiming to attract another record-breaking amount of overnight visitors in 2018, targeting 440,000 people, which would be a 5.2% increase on 2017, which was the most successful year in Cayman’s tourism history.

With stay-over visitor numbers for both January and February once again far exceeding historical numbers, 2018 is already on track for another successful year as the overnight sector exceeds all expectations. Meanwhile, the 1.7 million cruise passengers that landed in 2017 spent, collectively, around US$154 million while onshore (around $90 per head) compared to the near $1,200 per head spent by overnight guests.

The figures were revealed at a Cayman Islands Tourism Department strategy meeting of all its worldwide staff in Denver, Colorado. Discussions at the meeting included how to sustain the growth and the new infrastructure projects, such as the plans to award the contract for the controversial cruise berthing facility in September.

As the community becomes increasingly aware of the potential negative impact of this major project on the public purse, the environment and the islands infrastructure, Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell pointed out that there are already issues in Cayman about managing the flow of tourists.

Kirkconnell, who is also deputy premier, said that meeting the 2018 overnight guest targets would require “raising the bar” even more to attract “the right mix of visitors to give us the biggest return on our investments”. He said that would involve “thinking up more creative ways to manage visitor flows to flatten seasonal peaks and valleys”.

The minister made no comment in a release published by the DoT after the meeting about the potential negative impact that the 2.3+ million cruise passenger numbers needed to justify the port would have on the far more lucrative and growing overnight market.

Given the significant overcrowding on the beaches and at key attractions last year, which has raised real concern among tourism stakeholders, an increase of more than 30% on those numbers once the piers are finished will have an even greater negative effect.

This issue comes at a time when, as Tourism Director Rosa Harris noted at the Denver meeting, the Caribbean market is increasingly competitive and Cayman needs to be ever more innovative and strategic to stay ahead.

“We will continue to attract and retain visitation to the Cayman Islands by developing and implementing sustainable policies and initiatives in collaboration with all stakeholders for the benefit of our people,” she said.

However, she did not refer to the challenge ahead to balance the welcome growth in overnight guests against what could be the self-defeating increase in passenger numbers.

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Comments (58)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Money! God, I love money!! Money money money. It should be the first consideration for every decision. Oop, never mind. Got that covered.

  2. See it like it is says:

    I suppose the next “stategy meeting” will be held in Shanghai, after all they have to spend the $20 milliion plus budget somehow.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Reading between the lines this suggests the DOT statisticians reached an all time high in Colorado.
    Anyone wonder why they held the meeting there?

  4. Anonymous says:

    “Meanwhile, the 1.7 million cruise passengers that landed in 2017 spent, collectively, around US$154 million while onshore (around $90 per head) compared to the near $1,200 per head spent by overnight guests.”

    And there we have it at long last. No justification for increased cruise ship capacity and every justification for completion of existing half-finished projects, and improving infrastructure on-island to not only accommodate more stayover tourism.

    • Anonymous says:

      But how much did the government get per cruise ship passenger? If they collected more than 31.5 million in immigration and port fees the government is better off

      • See it like it is says:

        All the port related fees will go towards the new cruise ship piers so Govt will get nothing. As for the “estimated” $90 a head spending, nearly all the thousands of passengers I see waddling around George Town have clearly bought nothing and at most will buy a cold drink.

  5. Anonymous says:

    All that cash coming into the economy is likely to disappear if the government does not do something about the criminals breaking in to tourist accommodations and tourist rental cards and robbing tourists on our beaches. There is a lot of crime happening and not a da&*% thing is being done about it.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s a police function via Governor’s office.

      • Anonymous says:

        Classic colonial control technique. Reserve important areas of government operation, then neglect them. If we have a bad police force, prison, and probation service, that ensures we can’t effectively deal with our social problems and raise the overall quality of our people, thus remaining dependent.

  6. Jar Jar Binks says:

    So it sounds like Grand Cayman has also reached its peak in terms of tourists it can handle. So then why more development is being pushed?

  7. Anonymous says:

    What the hell were DoT doing holding this little jolly in Denver in the first place? Why not bring them here? Were they afraid that their ‘worldwide staff’ might be exposed to something they wouldn’t like? This stinks!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Ditch the pier. Forgetting the tight cruise ship cattle. Build more top hotels. That creates lots of jobs, unlike the pier, which might only benefit those who own expensive watch shops.

    • Say it ain’t so says:

      You hit the nail on the head…….watches and rum cakes!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m so happy this article came out because now people can see the truth.

      The money is not in our cruise ship passengers but in our stay-over tourists.

      Now, whilst you might say “well isn’t that obvious?”; a lot of people actually believed that there was a lot of money being generated from cruise ship arrivals.

      So tell me CIG, why on earth are you planning to spend 300 million on a pier, which is clearly a dodgy investment? Please tell the people of these islands how you can justify such an expenditure!

  9. Real News Please says:

    Sorry. But this means what for the average Caymanian person?

    This money is used to pay salaries. Okay. So its more profitable for me to hire high salary, expat, managers who do my bidding. Then higher part time expat labourers, which by the way I share a permit with another entity. Then I higher a couple of token Caymanians.

    This allows me to circumvent/exploit the labour laws, pension laws, health insurance laws and the minimum wage laws.

    Its a fact. Its unprofitable to higher locals at the required salary and benefits. Just look at the judicial cause lists and you will the amount of companies facing legal action everyday. And most, if not all, of it is because the expats complained.

    Everyone is doing it. From the Ministers who own bussineses to hotels to construction companies, hell even the largest supermarket chain.

    Now the money.

    Most of this money, besides Govt taxes, goes overseas. Either to the expat owners of the bussineses, to overseas companies that supply these bussineses or the expat workers families which are overseas

    Now take at least half of what the Govt gets and give that to the other expat workers in Govt for their salaries which they send overseas.

    Now take half of the half left and give that to overseas companies that the GOVT uses for stuff like advertising, consultations and recomndation reports, fees and anytjing else.

    So tell me again why I as a regular Caymanian should get excited about this.

    I would have preferred to just get the amount this silly report cost the Govt to obtain and release it.

    Next time try some real news. Like Govt is actually gonna start getting the garbage situation sorted or better education for my kids.

    • Anonymous says:

      Try to look past your own nose, this is simply an update on a local industry
      No one is saying you have to be excited about this
      CNS is not inclined to write articles to suit your personal tastes, you chose to come onto CNS and read this article
      You could have just as easily shrugged after reading the article and said “Oh well nothing to do with me” but instead here we are

      • Real News Please says:

        So whats the point of releasing the information to the public if they are not trying to get people excited about it?

        Lets hear your years, upon years, of wise and old experience.

        Or maybe, and I am willing to bet on it, that your one of those making a killing here and sending it all home to whence you came from.

        Still it does not explain what the benefit to the average Caymanian is, now does it.

        If you want to make a point on something then state what the benefit is.

        And we will leave CNS out of the equation for now.

        And you brought us here. I will think its because I hit on a nerve. You know the old saying. Throw a rock into a pig pen and the first one to squeal got hit.
        All I hearing is screeeeeeeee, screeeeee coming from you.


        • Anonymous says:

          The purpose of a news outlet is not to benefit anyone but to provide news on all topics about the place it is making articles about wether good or bad, citizens have the right to be made aware of the current ongoings in their country. I assure you if a news outlets only makes articles that benefit the citizens it clearly isn’t news. Be grateful you’re made aware of the current ongoings in the country rather than being fed biased information.

        • Anonymous says:

          This so true! Stand up for your right young caymanian, we laud you on this. Aussies

        • An Unimpressed Youth says:

          First of all, as a Caymanian you should be interested in the health of the economy of these Islands (Tourism being one of the two major pillars of it…). Secondly, this is transparency on the governments part, which is one of governments responsibilities to its people. Thirdly these figures, are extremely relevant and welcome regarding the cruise berthing facility project discussion, as it shows that Government are pushing a pointless and waste full project.

          A rough calculation shows that just over 75% of the total money spent by tourist visitors was by stay over tourists, not cruise passengers.

          Worth spending 280-300 million on? or would you rather see that money spent on the lacking public education system for your kids and future generations?

          I think this information benefits the average Caymanian in a big way.

      • Anonymous says:

        Wow a lot of expats benefitting from hotels. A lot of Caymanians benefitting from cruise ship business makes sense. More than 3/4 of that US$1200 per day is just paying for their flight and room. That leaves food at expensive restaurants and liquor. So not much left for the rest.

    • Anonymous says:

      caymankind short sightedness….

    • Anonymous says:

      Great question. There are other great questions. Such as “ What is Cayman doing to train Caymanians not just in skills, but also in work ethics? And what are Caymanians who need work doing to help themselves find work?”, because bitching about it sure doesn’t help…

    • Straight Facts Proven says:

      Rather than attempts at deflecting with rants about the upside of releasing this useless information, how “Caymanians need to be trained” or what the news outlets do or don’t do.

      Please inform the average Caymanian, knowing and understanding what the original poster states as what is going on in the bussiness and tourism sector, how they are benefiting from this huge cash injection.

      Are they getting the training that you say they require. Nope. Need schools and better teachers for that. It costs money.

      Are they getting hired. Nope. It’s cheaper to higher expats at part time. No minimum wage, no health insurance, no pension and if you dig deep enough you will find that at least 75% of these expats pay for their own work permit among others. They are also being used by someone else part time. Only one work permit required or two companies without all the benefits. Just the court listings for evidence.

      Is the majority of the money being injected staying here. Nope. Majority of this injection returns overseas. Just check the money transfer places on a Friday. Proof yet again.

      So I ask again, “what is the benefits to average Caymanians”.There is none.
      No one can prove there is. That’s why all the deflection.

      No body cares about why the news publish what they do so I really don’t see the point.

      Nuff Said.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The tender bots coming out strong.

  11. Anonymous says:

    It does not have to be a massive concrete slab.
    What about something along the lines of a suspension bridge?

  12. eyehavenoIdeer says:

    with that much money “going in the public purse” isn’t it time to increase punishment for crimes committed in “Tourist areas” I know a guy who robbed two persons and royals palms who were on vacation and he served 7 months ???? Should be minimum 10 years

  13. Anonymous says:

    whoopie! more money for politicians to waste!?

  14. Anonymous says:

    AirBnb folks, AirBnb…I been tellin y’all.

    Discuss with your siblings, contact DOE for setup guidelines, upgrade a family property,and get your piece of the pie.

    I’m sure as heck gettin mine


    – Who

  15. Anonymous says:

    A country that is UNABLE to manage its own waste disposal is seeking to attract more visitors, who in turn would bring more waste. We already know about The Dump and garbage littered Grand Cayman. Sewage treatment plant also has its limits.

    But wait… only about 20 (!!!!!!!) per cent of the wastewater generated in the Cayman Islands is collected and treated at the central wastewater treatment plant.
    Poorly treated or untreated wastewater creates a health hazard and an environmental hazard.

    Read the article (see the link below) and think about your coastal water, since ONLY 20% of the wastewater is collected and treated. May be that is your future, to carry all human waste in small portable toilet cans. Unless serious investments are made in sewerage infrastructure.

    “Human waste is making a Denali glacier toxic. The park service is demanding change from climbers.”

    “Now, for the first time, the National Park Service is requiring climbers below 14,000 feet on Denali’s western flank to carry all human waste off the mountain in small portable toilet cans.”

  16. Anonymous says:

    Moses K and PPM are pursuing the new berthing dock no matter the costs in order to satisfy family interests and financiers of the UNITY Govt. This will help kirk’s sell their businesses and bay shore plaza to Dart for maximum value. There is a reason they will not share information or plans with the public.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Its almost as if we should be focusing on them and not some ridiculous concrete slab to destroy our marine ecosystem so that 1/1000 of them can buy an expensive watch duty free

  18. Anonymous says:

    If only Rosa and Moses could receive a “visitation” from the spirits of doomed pier projects past…

  19. George Towner says:

    Most of that money I bet is not going into the pockets of low wage or average workers. Rather its the owners of hotels, restaurants, and big names.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have always said (yes I’m no economist nor do I have hard proof) that the day old Holiday Inn and Galleon Beach shut down was a turning point in our islands history and for the worst. Those hotels brought in the type of tourist we really need. They were the tourists that went into town and bought the t-shirts and trinkets and spent money on local goods and restaurants.

      The middle class that had the money for once a year trips and the lower class that made it the once in 5 years trip. Both of which shelled out the cash for memories. These mega-hotels we have now are a tour director short of an all inclusive upper class stockade which means they practically don’t have to leave the compound except to go home but that is the class of tourist the powers to be want here because they think they will spend more money here. They won’t!

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree 2:09. Used to come 2-3x a year. I’m a budget traveler, but once on island spent a good deal eating 3 meals out, rental car, day & night entertainment, etc. Since hotel prices have gone up, I have not been down. I may not be your most expensive guest, but you could always depend on me dropping in a few times a year and spending/ tipping in the local establishments. Hopefully, will get down soon if prices drop over the low season.

        • Anonymous says:

          The hotels and condos are packed with people. The restaurants and are packed. The airport and airplanes are packed. The trinket stores are packed. How many shall we send home to make room for you.

          • Anonymous says:

            You don’t have to throw anyone out. I’m just stating my opinion. I personally can not afford the new prices. Better stated, I can’t justify the new prices. I travelled elsewhere so I could go on more trips and hope to get back to GC this summer when prices are lower/ back to what used to be normal.

          • Anonymous says:

            And what you just said proves the point people are arguing here. Why do we need the berth for day visitors if the planes, hotels, condos, restaurants and trinket stores are packed? How is that going truly benefit us? The people are already here, they had no issue getting to the island by use of tenders. So we are going to spend millions on a concrete monstrosity, damage and kill irreplaceable natural resources and put Caymanian tenders out of jobs and somehow allowing Joe and Jane Tourist to walk off the ship onto a dock justifies all of that?

            Oh and 2:09? You are absolutely right. Cayman is pricing itself way too high and as “cool and awesome” it is to be able to brag about the rich visiting here? They do not spend like the people that used to come here. What was the line from Harry Potter? That ministry woman? “Progress for the sake of progress must be discouraged.” I think it’s more of an attraction than anything that you have to get a tender from the cruise ship. It gives the island a much more tropical appeal that you are going to an exotic destination unreachable by normal means.. imo. At least till you get off the tender.. 😀

          • Anonymous says:

            10:31 Then why can I always find room rate specials in Grand Cayman on the online booking sites? If the hotels are selling off rooms they clearly aren’t ‘packed’ are they?

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you implying that hotels and restaurants do not provide low or average wage jobs? How will the employees of these establishments be paid if money is not spent there? Think before you speak. Thats why locals get such a bad name. The more tourists come here, the more Cayman in totality will benefit.

    • Anonymous says:

      exactly 1.46 pm, where is the money going? is it going to be deposited back into the community for those we are in need (real need)?

  20. Anonymous says:

    Stop the cruise ship pier now.

    • Anonymous says:

      @1:30 Absolutely, it will kill this boom stone dead.

      • Anonymous says:

        The hurricane devastation on other islands caused the boom. Many people had trips planned and then had to relocate. There was not much to pick from. They picked Cayman. Will they return? That is the bigger question…

    • Anonymous says:

      How does a cruise ship berth made specifically for day visitors affect/attract over night visitors again? Oh hey, let’s go and spend a week in Cozumel because they have a cruise berth.. said no one ever.

      • Anonymous says:

        Firstly, Coz is big enough to absorb this. Secondly, it’s a heck of lot cheaper than GC so the stayover tourists there probably don’t give a toss if it’s an overcrowded dump.

        Read the story – significant overcrowding on the beaches and at key attractions last year – and tell me that doesn’t impact stayover tourism.

        • Anonymous says:

          Right, absolutely right.. for stay over tourist.. we have no problems with the stay over tourists.. the question comes down to is this berth really needed and is the impact on the environment worth it. From how the DOT pats themselves on the back, we have all the tourists we could hope for. The only difference is being able to walk off a ship rather than keeping a Caymanian in a job and being tendered. The people are still going to come here berth or not.

      • Anonymous says:

        It affects stayovers because Cayman has limited capacity. More cruiseshippers = more people at the Sand Bar and on SMB = worse experience for stayovers. Its not rocket surgery

    • Rick says:

      I agree then Cayman should stop expat labour

      • Anonymous says:


      • Anonymous says:

        That is not entirely true.. if you have 10000 jobs and only a workforce of 8000, someone gotta fill the gap. Instead of stopping it, I think the agencies that are in place to ensure fair hiring for Caymanians should actually do their jobs but then the powers to be wouldn’t have their cheap and obedient expat work force or they may upset the cash cows they milk everyday.

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