Stay-over guest spend grows as cruise cash falls

| 19/11/2018 | 58 Comments
Cayman Islands, Cayman News Service

Tourists in George Town, Grand Cayman, returning to their cruise ship by tender boat

(CNS): The tourism minister has revealed more information that demonstrates the increasing value to the economy of overnight tourism, contrasting with a drop in the value of cruise visitors. In a statement to the Legislative Assembly on Friday about the continued record-breaking visitor arrival numbers at both the port and the airport, Moses Kirkconnell said that stay-over guest spending has grown by almost ten dollars to CI$193 per day, one of highest daily spends in region, while according to cruise industry figures, the individual spend by cruise passengers has fallen by more than $10, from just over $115 to $105 per head.

According to the Department of Tourism’s own statistics, the combined visitor arrivals by both air and sea by the end of October had reached 1.9 million, which is an increase of 18% on the combined arrivals for the first ten months of last year and the highest in recorded history.

Kirkconnell revealed that the last time the numbers came close to that was in 2006. But then, 88% was made up of cruise passengers compared to 81% now, as overnight tourism continues to grow, boosting earnings from tourism for the economy. So far this year there has been an increase in the money spent by overnight guests in Cayman of more than CI$56 million above last year.

Overnight tourism is up 11% so far this year over 2017, and the month of October 2018 was the nineteenth month to see an increase in air arrivals over previous years. The sustained nature of the overnight tourism growth was further highlighted by the fact that October’s 2017 numbers had increased directly because of the impact of Hurricane Irma and Maria on the region, diverting visitors from other islands.

But numbers this October still surpassed that unexpected increase, indicating that the visitors are still coming even as those rival destinations get back on their feet and begin receiving guests again.

However, Kirkconnell said that while the cruise sector was still benefiting from the diversions, he expected numbers to begin to decline by around 5% next year. Nevertheless, the expected drop from the record-breaking numbers means that Cayman will still have a successful 2019 for cruise tourism.

The end of year numbers for cruise arrivals this year is expected to exceed 1.9 million, the highest in recorded history, so a 5% dip means that Cayman can still expect to receive some 1.8 million cruise passengers next year.

Kirkconnell said he was “very satisfied” with the trends and pointed to the multiplier effect tourism has in the economy, not only boosting government revenue from fees but also fueling growth in real estate construction and the retail sectors.

The minister credited the collaboration between government, community and tourism stakeholders for keeping the Cayman Islands at the top of the destinations list and the exposure the DoT is getting for its sustained marketing campaigns that are attracting record numbers of stay-over guests.

He explained the importance of the chain of stages, which starts with attracting guests through marketing, then making it as easy to get here as possible with airlift, and then offering the right accommodation and attractions.

This, he said, has helped to sustain the tourism growth, supported by the success of Cayman’s repeat visitors, with half of our guest returning more than once. Airlift will soon be boosted by the addition of Cayman Airways new route to Denver.

In addition, Southwest Airlines will soon be adding a direct flight between Cayman and the Baltimore-Washington area, the minister revealed.

After delivering his statement, Kirkconnell said he was not as optimistic about the cruise industry’s future as he was about the overnight sector, saying there would be more ships that will start to bypass Cayman in future as existing ships plying this route are replaced by the larger class.

The minister said that the government had “evidence in writing from the people who control these routes” that this would happen, even though two cruise line representatives who are involved in one of the bids for the controversial cruise berthing project indicated clearly at a public meeting in September that they have every intention of continuing to send smaller ships to this destination well into the future.

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Comments (58)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This is a huge scarlet herring. These statistics are meaningless.
    There will be no going back.
    Essentially, it is all over. There will be no more construction, no tourism, no small business.
    Everything has been destroyed by Lucifer and his minions.
    Now that we have been programmed into believing all this, nobody will risk their savings again.
    These are dire days for humanity, but thank God for Jesus.
    In Him we have peace.

    It is pointless to expect the pastors of Cayman to assist unless of course you have paid your tithe and offering.

    Mr. Anthony Eden, as a man of God, what would you say to your people?

    Can we have a word, Sir?
    Tell us what is on your heart. No flowery speeches, just the cold hard truth.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Where did they get the figure of $193 per day for stay over tourists? Did they only survey people who come here and stay on their friends couches? The average hotel room runs about $600 a night right now.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Cruise spend falls because we don’t get he new big ships. End of story

  4. Anonymous says:

    Conduct polls? Why? That’s too accurate! Let’s stick to our guesstimates without any data!

  5. Anonymous says:

    What bothers me is that visitors are viewed as cash cows to milk. You want their money, but hate them at the same time.
    If they read your comments, it is all about money. Why would they spend after being insulted?

    • Anonymous says:

      Please let me know in which country you can travel to as a tourist and not spend? In case you did not get the message, Tourism is an industry, and industries are usually monetized to make create wealth and a healthy economy. It has always been about money here and any other country that has a robust tourism industry. Stop babbling foolishness!

      • Anonymous says:

        Please name other countries that so openly display animosity towards visitors.
        My comment is about attitude towards visitors, not money.

        • Anonymous says:

          We want visitors with money. That was an explicit part of the tourism plan. We knew we did not have much space to share with visitors and wanted prosperity for ourselves so we never had any intention of welcoming hordes of average earners. We wanted a manageable number of wealthy visitors so we could take some of their money. So there is no general dislike of visitors. The animus comes from the impact that the numbers have on our daily lives, and the sacrifices we are being asked to make to accommodate them.

  6. Anonymous says:

    What have we done to court Sir Richard Branson/Tom McAlpin of Virgin Cruises, with their cruises starting next year, or is this Cabinet more interested in max headcount than quality-spend champagne-grade tourists on smaller boats <3000 passengers? If I'm not mistaken, those are the very ones that buy Rolex watches?

    • Anonymous says:


      Yes, you’re quite correct. It appears as though they have done nothing. However, why court Mr. Branson or Mr. McAlpin when the writing is on the wall that Cayman is not a destination that their elite cruisers would be interested in visiting?

      Much better to throw money at a $55k marketing campaign to get their $300 million brobdingnagian cruise pier built.

      • Anonymous says:

        The 6000+ ships are sardine cans destined for the discount subsidiary liner groups catering to the bottom-rung of tourism, on the fast-food routes. Again, not Rolex-buying crowds. If we wanted SilverSeas, The World, or Super Yacht customers we should be thinking entirely differently.

    • Anonymous says:

      9:55 Do you remember the Virgin Atlantic/CAL deal about 10 years ago? Nothing came of that did it?

      I also remember when Virgin Holidays had the Cayman Islands on their listings – that’s a good 20 years ago and they were using BA flights to bring people here from the UK. Anyone who used that option got royally screwed. I spent a week at the old Divi Tiara with a couple who had booked a room only Virgin package and my all inclusive room rate (made direct from the UK) was less than their room rate.

      The only good thing about the Virgin empire was when Delta bought out the airline – apart from that it’s a heap of ****!

      Treat anything involving Sir ‘Dicky Tricky’ with extreme caution.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I still maintain a couple spending a week here spend more into the economy than 200 cruise ship passengers. Build the stay over brand with all these nice new hotels popping up all over 7 mile beach.

    It wont wreck the environment or cost hundreds of millions of dollars while boosting the tourism economy.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Sign the petition and either by a yes or by a no we will end this debacle.

    • Anonymous says:

      No one who wants it, aka someone who would vote yes, would ever sign the petition.

      Petition = referendum = lots of delays = financial agreements expired = not happening.

  9. Anonymous says:

    $400 per day for 2 people seems low to me. Does this number include all cost, including government fees and taxes? It is hard to find lodging for much less than $400 per night and that is before the exorbitant cost of meals plus 15% automatic gratuity. I believe the difference in spending between stayover vs. cruise is much greater than the $88 per day noted in this article.

  10. Anonymous says:

    What marketing does the CIDOT do? Lies.

    Their social media is a case study in what not to do, filled with generic, could be taken anywhere pictures. Complete with the blond haired lady in a straw hat in a variety of poses on a beach or some romantic activity that you have to really put on your tin foil hat to experience. Or the artful, small portion of shipped in food on the white plate. Or the picture of fish swimming through an aquarium of coral, straight out of an 80’s encyclopedia. Sometimes on a productive day, the CIDOT pilfers the generic picture from someone’s IG account: sunglasses in the sand or a random sunset.

    They don’t show the bumper to bumper West Bay Road outside the hotel. Nor the elbow to elbow beach chairs on the beaches. Or the exorbitant price tag attached to the white plate of food. The concrete. The crime. The robberies. The suicides. The traffic accidents from rock rage. The forclosures. The lack of trees in a Caribbean destination. The ridiculous tunnels on a 22×8 miles long Island in the sea. The trash littered, ankle deep, on the beaches outside of SMB. The over crowding of George Town on any day the ships are in port. The people running around with guns and machetes in their hands killing iguanas. A corrupt and next to nonexistent police force, especially in the Eastern districts and North Side. The dictatorial government that is as corrupt and greedy as one could ever imagine, hell bent on destroying Grand Cayman even more to fill their own, already silk lined, pockets.

    What I’m trying to say is that everything the CIDOT puts forward, from numbers to pictures, are all lies. Fabrications. Things that they wish were but aren’t.

    Why do we always keep hearing about pre Ivan? It’s because that is before Cayman truly destructed and died. Cayman used to be a tourism marketers dream. Now it is the destination that nobody wants.

    $300 million Lipstick for your pig? We see your lies, we question your lies, nothing can save you. It’s 2018, the world is a fish bowl and everyone is watching Cayman in horror.

    • MRB says:

      Very interesting article. As a tourist on my fifth visit to Grand Cayman, I was recently horrified by the iguana kill! It was made way to public and did not want to hear about it. I have spent 50 days on the island and will give you an estimate of what is spent. 400 (200 for myself) per night hotel, breakfast 25, pool and beach drinks, snacks daily 40, dinner out 50. taxis 20 excursions ? So seriously it is a total much closer to $300 per day. I have to say that the cruise passengers take away from the peaceful beaches! They come, they drink and overtake some areas. I vote no to the expansion unless it is marketed to the premier cruise lines.

    • Anonymous says:

      wow. is this really how you see Cayman and life here? I have lived here for 25 years and am a Caymanian. I love living here because opportunity is everywhere. The ability to enjoy your life is everywhere. There are beautiful beaches, wonderful places to eat, friendly people everywhere, anything you need you can get, the economy is doing well, the Government is honest and proactive and moving the country forward and overall people are doing well. this is not to say that there are not challenges, there are, but what you describe does not reflect anything close to reality. I feel empathy for you and I hope that you will be able to change the things that you see and the way that you see them. there really is a beautiful world out there

    • Anonymous says:

      Hotels are so overpriced the last year & 1/2 that instead of traveling down high season twice and once in the summer, I am now only visiting once a year in low season. 20 + years of traveling to your island and now can’t justify the hotel price. Airfare is a bit ridiculous, too in the past year.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I don’t believe the numbers.
    Cayman is empty and the travel websites all have Cayman on sale with empty planes.
    Please don’t read this as a vote for the dock. It is NOT.
    I think they are liars and I wish the tourism businesses would step forward and give their side of the story because I don’t believe, at all, what I am reading.

  12. Miwak says:

    Overcrowding our beaches, Stingray City, downtown, our roads, and buses, these are the most important points no one wants to address. Take off the blinders called Special Interests, remove personal and private gain, then we can talk about the good ideas for our island.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Oh Mister Minister, would Decco & CHEC be one of the voices of doom if this project does not go ahead?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah, we will probably see the Ministry of Tourusm’s next message on the “For Cayman Investment Alliance” letterhead


  14. Mike says:

    WOW! Could the Govt. want a better reason to get serious about bringing Cayman’s crime problem under control so as to protect this valuable stay over tourism! Many of us have argued over the years that stay over tourism is a better investment than cruise based tourism. Put some of the revenue flowing in, back into our security service, which has been handicapped by harmful budgetary cuts for several years. Also have Tourism Dept. focus on product development so as to increase the spending of visitors.

    The idea that we need this massively expensive cruise pier project is ridiculous. Stop this project before it is too late and we are committed to environmental disaster and total degradation of our environment!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Alden and Moses are bound and determined to wreck up our waterfront. Why can’t they listen to sense.

  16. Fan sea full says:

    Where on earth does Mr Kirkconnell get the idea that every single cruise ship visitor spends $105 whilst onshore.Do they ever conduct exit polls do arrive at the real figure which must be a lot less.

    • Anonymous says:

      That might be what they PAY Carnival for their shore excursion, ferrying, clearance, and transport (Moses uses their stats, not ours). Carnival bills passengers $50.00pp for the “Deluxe Stingray City Sandbar Experience”…ask a sea captain how much of that goes into their pocket, and you will understand why they are treated like cattle (both passengers and sea captains).

      • Anonymous says:

        What Moses fails to realise is that just because he says these things don’t make them true. One day I hope he comes out of his slumber and acknowledge that he has been telling untruths. These are not the days when all of our people believed all the shenanigans. SIGN THE PETITiON so that we can get the truth.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I’d be amazed if most cruise passengers spent anything like $100 but I bet the stay-overs are actually spending a lot more than $193. Two friends of mine just came over from the USA for a four-day visit and even with good local contacts here they burned through almost $2000 without much effort.

    Put these figures in simple perspective – stay-over visitors will be paying at least $100 per person for their hotel rooms. This is yet more CIDOT nonsense.

    • Anonymous says:

      I stay over and try to keep my food budget to $40. a day( single traveler) & stay at either Comfort or Sunshine Suites ( prefer Comfort) to save on complimentary breakfast. Always rent the most inexpensive car available.

  18. Anonymous says:

    No matter how many cruise ships of whatever size visit, whether tenders or piers, evidence in writing or not, it doesn’t alter the fact that the entire dock debacle is a complete waste of money that would be better spent elsewhere.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Curbing crime is key to strong stay over tourism in Cayman. Limiting cruise tourism to manageable infrastructure levels is also necessary. The DoT does not seem to be on top of the country’s tourism product.

  20. Anonymous says:

    B-B-B-B-But Mose and Alden told me we need to spend THREE HUNDRED MILLION on a cruise dock to accommodate the Walmart Of The Sea’s ships! Do you mean we have been mislead by our leaders? Oh Em Geeee what a shock!!

  21. Anonymous says:

    Wow, it really is possible to speak out of both sides of your mouth…………………..

    • Anonymous says:


    • 9th Generation Caymanian says:

      Moses Alden McKeeva Juliana Dwayne Tara Joey are all masters of the dark art of politicial double speak and waffling.
      Their collect support for the cruise port project while sanctioning the potential destruction of the marine environment plus a complete lack of transparency regarding the total estimated costs for a turn key facility is a recipe for disaster.

  22. Anonymous says:

    This means we need eight fingers in GT and a purpose built island in the North Sound! Build them and they will come.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Let us see the written proof Mr. Kirkconnell, because that is not what I heard at the meeting on 26 September. Both Carnival and Royal Caribbean said that Cayman is not at threat of being removed. Only not to see the larger ships. Look at cruise trends globally and see how long term larger ships are.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t be silly. The written proof went down the hole with the rabbit… Chase it and see where that takes you… Tea anyone? This is a jokers game….

    • Anonymous says:

      3:42pm you asked for “written proof”. Proof of what, exactly?

      So you say you want to see written proof? Well Bobo you won’t even need to put your spectacles on to read dis ya written proof:
      Look at the glaring headlines in the DOT 2017 Bi-Annual Report, comparing cruise visitor arrivals in the first half of 2017 before the two hurricanes struck several Eastern Caribbean cruise ports which diverted many ships and passengers to the Western Caribbean, versus the same period in the prior year:
      “-9.39% Cruise passengers declined”.
      Written in big bold font. Not a pretty picture in the first half of 2017, before Irma and Maria gave our tourism a “windfall”.

      If you’re into doubt and denial about the reality of what the cruise lines have been saying for years as to what was going to happen if we kept dragging our feet on getting proper cruise berthing facilities for their ships and their passengers, read that “written proof” for yourself:

      So now, how much more proof are you waiting for?

      Did you actually listen to both of the cruise line VP’s at the meeting on 26 September, or did you just hear the bits that you could parse out and twist into a nonexistent promise that you want the public to believe? Or worse yet are you only listening to what the loudmouths on the talk show want you to hear?

      At that meeting, neither of the cruise lines said that they would be pulling out of Cayman if we don’t get cruise berthing. They both said that they will still have ships coming to Cayman whether we get cruise berthing or not. What they did NOT say however, was that they will be able to keep on bringing the same numbers of passengers to Cayman.

      On the contrary, they both expect cruise visitor numbers to Cayman will fall due to not having cruise berthing. What they actually indicated, and what the anti-port lobbyists don’t want the public to hear, is that without cruise berthing in Cayman those cruise lines’ passenger volumes to Cayman will gradually drop as their strategies of bringing more of the larger ships to the Western Caribbean to redeploy smaller ships to the emerging markets in other regions will mean more and more of their lines’ Caribbean itineraries – and passengers – will have to bypass Cayman. They were both very explicit that neither of the cruise lines will be tendering their Mega-class (6,000+ passenger) ships.

      That is no secret – cruise lines have been saying (and doing) that for years: their Mega-class ships bypass ports that don’t have cruise piers. They even bypass their own “private islands” that don’t have cruise piers.

      Of the two cruise corporations represented, only the Royal Caribbean VP could speak with the benefit of his cruise lines’ actual experience with the Mega-class ships in the Caribbean. Remember Carnival has not had the actual experience of operating any Mega-class ships carrying 6,000 or more passengers. But the cruise lines owned by Carnival Corporation are soon getting ships that carry 6,600 passengers, which is even more passengers than “Oasis” and its sister ships which presently are the largest cruise ships in the world. Royal Caribbean started with only two (2) Genesis-class ships: “Oasis of the Seas” and “Allure of the Seas.” After initially deploying it in the Mediterranean, they added “Harmony of the Seas” to their Caribbean fleet in November 2016, and they recently brought out “Symphony of the Seas”. Do you see a trend there? And did you not hear the Royal Caribbean VP explain in the September meeting that whereas their numbers to Cayman now are roughly 450,000 per annum, without cruise berthing that will reduce to roughly 250,000? That’s a drop of more than 40%. Do you think that’s good news for any of the over-two-thousand Caymanians employed in the cruise industry here?

      What did you mean by “Look at cruise trends globally and see how long term larger ships are.”?
      Are you seriously trying to get people to believe the larger cruise ships are being retired or are diminishing in number rather than increasing, especially in the Caribbean? What planet are you living on?

      Just take a closer look at the strategic direction of one of the cruise corporations, Carnival Corporation which owns several cruise brands and is the world’s largest travel and leisure company. Back in early 2015, Carnival Corporation signed memorandums of agreement with two major shipbuilding enterprises to “add a total of NINE (9) new cruise ships to the company’s industry-leading fleet over a four-year period from 2019 – 2022. The shipbuilding agreements include options for additional ship builds in the coming years.”

      This is not breaking news for diligent people who are not into denial. Caribbean countries that realized and understood the importance of cruise tourism to their economies and their people have been building cruise berthing facilities to accommodate the new realities – except Cayman, still with no cruise pier. People who actually understand the reality of the cruise industry have known and acknowledged this for years. At least those who live on planet Earth!

      • Anonymous says:

        VERY. WELL. SAID!

      • Anonymous says:

        Praise Be – less cruise ships !!!

      • Robert Wilson says:

        Dear Anonymous troll 3:56 am; I am sure you know………. or maybe you DON’T know….. that Grand Cayman is not suited for the crowds that jam the streets and sidewalks when the ships dump them on an island without the space to accommodate that many people. Apparently you have never tried to drive or even walk in George Town when there isn’t enough room for the automobiles and pedestrians that fill the streets and sidewalks. The visitors do not like these conditions either! Many visitors make it a point NOT to come to the Caymans again for that very reason! Stop trying to make Grand Cayman like Aruba!

      • land crab says:

        3.56am You obviously sat up all night writing your epistle, unfortunately you fail to realise CNS readers have a very short attention span and will have completely lost interest after the sixth paragraph (I’m trying to be generous).

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