Minister reveals more tourism records

| 14/11/2019 | 23 Comments
Cayman News Service
Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell makes his contribution to the budget debate

(CNS): The unprecedented success of the tourism sector in Cayman was confirmed by the minister during his contribution to the budget debate Wednesday, when he revealed new records relating to numbers, rooms and spending. Moses Kirkconnell told his legislative colleagues that tourism growth was outpacing all other regional destinations. By the end of 2019, visitors are expected to have spent over a billion dollars here for the first time.

The Cayman Islands is still enjoying over 10% growth on last year, as stay-over guests pour into the islands. Cayman is expected to reach the record-breaking half a million overnight guests by the end of December. They will also have stayed in a record amount of accommodation. The Cayman Islands now has more than 7,000 rooms available for guest across the price spectrum from luxury hotel suites to B&Bs available through online platforms such as Airbnb.

Kirkconnell said that the projected spending of $1 billion for this year came from both stay-over and cruise visitors. But given the distribution, the bulk comes from overnight guests. In addition, they are expected to have contributed more than $36 million to government coffers in accommodation tax as well as duty on the goods they buy.

Kirkconnell said the ministry was committed to keeping the tourism growth going and was targetting a 5% growth in 2020 to keep ahead of the competition. He said the promotion of Cayman would be harder next year because of the presidential election in the United States, where candidates will be buying airtime and pushing up marketing costs.

Although he outlined the good news about overnight tourism, the minister revealed little about the situation relating to Cayman Airways and the grounded Max 8 aircraft. Lauding the airline’s ability to fill the gaps, he said that he would have detailed information on costs and the current lease situation ready for Finance Committee.

Kirkconnell stated that cruise tourism was down on last year by around 5.9%. This however is largely due to the return of destinations that had been impacted by hurricane damage in 2017 and the sector remains on target for well over 1.8 million guests. Justifying the need for the port to keep Cayman in the cruise business, he gave some confusing figures about the duty cruise guests contribute.

The minister said that cruise passengers pay duty on duty free goods and so contributed a significant amount to government coffers. Cruise passenger spend is eclipsed by overnight guests and it’s not clear from Kirkconnell’s comments how much duty the cruise guests actually contribute from spending here compared to how much government collects from accommodation tax, as well as spending in bars, car rentals, restaurants, shops and on trips by stayover visitors.

Following the minister’s budget contribution, the Department of Tourism issued a press release to announce that the Cayman Islands have reached the 7,000 room milestone, noting that one thousand rooms had been added in just the last three years.

“We have seen continued interest from the community to embrace entrepreneurship opportunities in tourism through homesharing, which accounts for 32.2% of the total rooms now available,” Kirkconnell said in the release.

During his address and in the release he spoke about the commitment to offer training for people renting rooms through Airbnb, saying they are ambassadors for the country.

“As the Cayman Islands gears up for what is anticipated to be another active winter season around the globe, we encourage our tourism partners, whether new to the industry or long-established, to continue providing our world-renowned warmth through our Caymankind hospitality and our rich cultural experiences,” he added.

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Category: Business, Government Finance, Politics, Tourism

Comments (23)

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    • Anonymous says:

      Many thanks for that 3:54. It just came up on my google alerts and I was just about to post it.

      Fact is the hurricane impacted areas are coming back on line and the boom we’ve been enjoying won’t last. Worse still, when people who used us as an alternate found out how damn expensive everything is they’re not exactly going to be repeat visitors. Some of the negative feedback I’ve heard from first-time visitors in recent months was pretty robust!

  1. Anonymous says:

    ppm/kirk bots out in force.
    cns…what can be done to tackle this?

  2. Anonymous says:

    So let me see if I got this straight – as an American tourists I have been here as both stayover vacations and cruise ship vacations.

    When I was here “overnight” I rented a hotel room, rented a car, shopped at the local grocery store by the airport, went out for meals, and visited some of the “tourist” areas on my own schedule.

    When I came here on a cruise ship everything seemed hectic and on a tight schedule. There was an organized bus tour with a couple stops. Once back in George Town I walked around and ended up buying a t-shirt and some rum cakes – went back on the ship to eat – as that is already included in the price of the cruise.

    My point to the tourism officials is this – cruise ships passengers are only in your country for a few hours – not much time to do anything and every port has the same old same old jewelry, liquor and gift shops. The stayover tourists puts a lot more into the local economy than any cruise ship tourists – the airfare taxes alone most likely outweigh the actual spending by a cruise ship tourist

    Your country is talking about an investment of a couple hundred million dollars for cruise ship docks – and driving around all of Grand Cayman I got the sense that you do not have any sort of organized garbage collection/waste management program – did not matter where I drove – West Bay, George Town, Bodden Town, North Side could see uncollected garbage day after day (is your garbage collection department on strike or something?)

    And lastly could not help but hear talk of “local” jobs – I did not meet many locals while here as both a stayover tourist and cruise ship tourist – it seems that most all the people in the tourism industry were from other countries most notably the Phillipines.

    Thank you for letting me share my “American” tourist experience with your readers.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Fake news.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, 6:58 and you are also a follower of the greatest President in the history of the world, who is also a “a stable genius”.

  4. Anonymous says:

    You want more tourists? Have each individual on a government scholarship bring one person to the Cayman Islands every year that they have their scholarship. When these other students visit the island, it is more money spent by them than a cruise ship passenger.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Love this, “He said the promotion of Cayman would be harder next year because of the presidential election in the United States, where candidates will be buying airtime and pushing up marketing costs.” That sounds to me like a politician preparing excuses for when the wheels fall off. Did he really need to say that?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Wow great job Department of Tourism !

    Perhaps you should be truthful and admit that it was hurricane Irma and Dorian that actually brought more tourists here since those destinations got destroyed rather than patting yourself on the back…

  7. Anonymous says:

    Well done. So now let’s concentrate on our stay over visitors. Quality over Quantity. Protect our natural environment, our #1 biggest attraction , our beaches and our underwater beauty. Let’s insure they have a high quality experience with lots of Caymankind . #VoteNo

  8. Anonymous says:

    He needs to check the stats for our neighbours, Cuba and Jamaica, before spouting off like this. We’re doing well but not that well.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cuba has 72,000 hotel rooms available (not including the Casas) and is planning to double that in the next decade. One chain alone has just on 32,000 of those rooms. Even with the current travel restrictions they’re looking at hitting the five million arrivals mark this year.

      One way or other Trump’s on the way out and when he goes so do his measures limiting US travel to Cuba.

      Jamaica is also reporting record arrival numbers, even though Cuba has now overtaken them.

      I think the Hon Minister needs to spend some time checking the internet before making these speeches.

      • Laz Pujol says:

        In fact I think Cuba is the 2nd most popular spot in Caribbean tourism next to the Dominican republic.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Wait did you say the Moses said that cruise ship passengers pay duty on duty free products? Wow!

    • Anonymous says:

      Surprises for you.

      Duty free liquor yes but most other so-called “duty free” products are NOT actually free of duty.


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