2020 arrivals off to flying start

| 05/03/2020 | 22 Comments
Cayman News Service
Cayman Airways Max 8 aircraft (Photo by Paul Tibbetts)

(CNS): Following the most successful year in the history of Cayman Islands tourism last year, 2020 got off to a flying start, although this may be curtailed as the spread of coronavirus impacts the tourism and travel industries worldwide. January was another record breaking month for overnight guests, which follows 2019, a year that broke the half million guest milestone.

Overnight guests in January were up 3.6% on last year, with 42,851 people staying here during the month, the most guests ever in any January since records began. Officials said international markets showed strong signs of improvement with the highest growth in the Canadian market.

“The continued marketing efforts by the Department of Tourism under the direction of my ministry continue to show strong signs of growth in this new decade,” said Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell in response to the release of the latest statistics. “My tourism teams are dedicated to providing tangible benefits through tourism driven economic activity for our islands and our people.”

No one, however, commented on the cruise arrivals numbers which, although down on January 2019, were still the second best for that month in history.

Port calls were down in the first month of the year because of weather issues but the constant claims by government that cruise numbers are in terminal decline proved unfounded. George Town port welcomed 240,476 cruise passengers, which when compared to the record breaking cruise numbers for 2019 were down around 28,000, but the number was still significant in the overall record.

The justification for the cruise port continues to be undermined by the arrival numbers. However, it is clear now that, as well as some ships diverted to Spotts because of rough seas and slightly fewer ships, the figures going forward are going to be impacted by the coronavirus.

Currently, yet another ship owned by Princess Cruises is being impacted by the epidemic. The Grand Princess is stuck off the coast of California after some guests showed signs of illness and the ship is now waiting for tests to come back to see if they have coronavirus, a situation that might effect more ships as the infection rate increases.

In a video produced by Royal Caribbean, the cruise line’s CEO, Richard Fain, delivered a message to tourism partners about the negative impact on the company. “It sucks,” he said, admitting that the cruise line was losing money and expectations were that things will get worse. (See below)

The cruise industry has being facing criticism, fines and reputational loss because of its terrible environmental record, as well as disease outbreaks on ships even before the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the current situation is likely to hit the cruise lines even harder as the COVID-19 outbreak progresses.

Anti-port campaigners here believe that this should serve as a warning to the Cayman government that the gamble it wants to take in developing the controversial cruise port project looks increasingly risky.

See here for more information and detailed arrival statistics.

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Category: Business, Tourism

Comments (22)

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  1. Oh the Irony! says:

    CNS: A solid 11 for posting a photo of CAL’s Max 8 appearing to leave Cayman while your headline implies we’re “killing it” with tourist arrivals.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ah. Moses from Marketing talking again

  3. Anonymous says:

    My, My, My, My ministry. He did it all by himself. How lucky we are to have him! How arrogant can you get? Wonder who will be to blame when the numbers fall?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Coronavirus confirmed !

  5. Anonymous says:

    January: earthquakes
    February: pandemic
    March: officials say the year is off to a great start!

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t forget we’ve also been blacklisted and Alden is claiming his trip regarding blacklist discussions with UK officials was a success.

      More wonderland stuff

    • Anonymous says:

      March: 2-1/2 hours for visitors to exit Customs after landing at ORIA on a Saturday afternoon.

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s crazy. I’ve been through LAX when they were short-staffed and all the SPC machines were down quicker than that!

  6. Anonymous says:

    COVID-19 is about to put a wrench in these figures so enjoy while this lasts.
    I wonder if Cayman’s first confirmed case will be kept under wraps so as not to scare away tourists and the expense of public health safety here? We are sitting ducks if cases spike in or around major air hubs that connect to Cayman. And since we don’t have the on-island screening test capability or even credibility if we did there’s a five day min. turnaround for overseas lab analysis. I would not hedge this trend will last much longer.

    • Anonymous says:

      With thousands arriving and leaving daily it is naive to “wait” for coronavirus, it is already here.
      Unusually high number of “flu” cases is your confirmation.

      • Anonymous says:

        Who’s waiting? You have a better plan, you want to set up a “pop up” lab here? Good luck to you Sir/Madam!

  7. Anonymous says:

    We do not need cruise tourism

  8. ~s3k says:

    upvote me if you aren’t really bothered by it all

    downvote me if you’re concerned and/or afraid.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Time for the CIG to stop wasting time, money and resources on the Cruise Port issue. The ‘stayovers’ are where the real money is at.
    PS: Look at opening up the East of the Island by developing a new Cargo Port there.

    • Anonymous says:

      No sah. You want my MLA Arden Mclean to lie down in front of the bulldozer or what?

    • Anonymous says:

      We stopped a port in East End already. We will do it again.

    • Anonymous says:

      The airport should have been moved out to East End. There is absolutely no reason why the airport needs to remain in the center of GT.

    • Anonymous says:

      Real money, or at least tourist money will not be coming in if even one solid rumour about COVID-19 case starts and perpetuates here. I sincerely feel sorry for everyone connected or in the tourism industry right now. I wish this would not happen but it seems like a certainty given our dependence on tourism.

  10. Anonymous says:

    no thanks to the daily shambles that is cayman airways…


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