Peak-season visitors approach 2019 numbers

| 15/12/2022 | 11 Comments
Cay man News Service
Cayman Airways passengers arriving at ORIA (photo by Lana Gilyun)

(CNS): The number of overnight visitors arriving in the Cayman Islands in October and November reached around 90% of the record-breaking numbers of 2019 before COVID-19 turned the tourism sector on its head. The recovery of tourism for the peak season means the year-end figures for 2022 are going to be far better than predicted, even though border restrictions were not completely lifted until August. By the end of last month, 236,348 guests had flown into Cayman this year, most of them in the last three months.

Based on the bookings, December is predicted to be another good month, and Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan told his colleagues in parliament on Wednesday that, as the sector was rebounding well ahead of expectations, there was a lot to be hopeful about. He said that tourism is once again contributing to the public purse as well as the broader economy as over CI$14.5 million was remitted to the government at the end of October with another two months of revenue still to be collected.

Arrivals are already at 53% of last year’s numbers, which is well over the 40% target, and since November was the best month for stayover arrivals this year, December could easily exceed the 34,118 visitors last month, ending the year on solid ground.

Bryan said he was hopeful that the recovery would continue throughout 2023 as a result of improving airlift. Sun Country, a new US-based carrier, will begin a weekly service from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to the Cayman Islands starting this Saturday, 17 December.

Meanwhile, Cayman Airways, which is already bringing in more passengers than before the pandemic, with both October and November breaking records, is likely to help this destination ride out the continued uncertainty around global travel for next year. CAL will also be adding new gateways next year, including Panama. Airlift is expected to increase by at least 1% in 2023 on seats in 2019, the minister said.

“I have the confidence that 2023 will not just be a good year for tourism, it will be a great year, and I am committed to doing everything possible to make that prediction a reality,” said Bryan, who has been voted Caribbean Tourism Minister of the Year for 2022.

While air arrivals continue to soar, the cruise sector is also exceeding expectations. Between March and November, 206 cruise ships called at the George Town port carrying a total of 614,959 passengers. Over 105,754 arrived in November alone, and Port Authority figures show that as many as 150,000 passengers could arrive this month, which would make the year-end total well over 700,000, far surpassing the target figure.

Bryan said cruise numbers would continue to decline as the cruise lines are sticking by their refusal to tender their larger ships in the hopes of applying pressure to the Cayman government to develop berthing facilities despite the wishes of the people.

As he outlined the expected declines in numbers in 2023, as Carnival and Norwegian cut the number of ships coming here, the minister said it was directly related to the public rejection of a dock, referring to the campaign against the cruise berthing facility and the successful petition for a referendum on the matter.

“It reflects the will of the people of these islands, who made it very clear they do not want a berthing facility,” the minister said. “The reduction in cruise calls is a consequence of that decision and it is a reality that we will have to live with unless the people say different.”

However, Bryan said there was a potential to make up the numbers with other cruise lines with higher-yielding guests, such as MSC and Holland America, and these passengers were more in line with Cayman’s target marker. He said that talks with those companies were encouraging, and implied he was exploring ways to spread ship calls more evenly throughout the year, addressing the seasonal peaks and troughs. 

Despite public pressure to address the multiple challenges presented by high cruise visitor numbers, such as lack of beach access, stress on attractions and limited direct economic benefit, Bryan stressed his belief in the importance of the cruise sector and maintaining arrival numbers.

The minister revealed that he planned to work with opposition MP Moses Kirkconnell (CBWLC), the tourism minister in the last administration, in his negotiations with the cruise lines.

See Bryan’s address to parliament on CIGTV below:

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Category: Business, Tourism

Comments (11)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    How can arrivals be at 53% of last year’s numbers yet year to date is at 90% of the record breaking 2019 numbers.

    Something surely doesn’t add up, or I’m missing something?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Kenny you might want to think on this as we enter 2023

    As of November, 63% of Americans were living paycheck to paycheck, according to a monthly LendingClub report — up from 60% the previous month and near the 64% historic high hit in March.

    Even high-income earners are under pressure, LendingClub found. Of those earning more than six figures, 47% reported living paycheck to paycheck, a jump from the previous month’s 43%.

    “Americans are cash-strapped and their everyday spending continues to outpace their income, which is impacting their ability to save and plan,” said Anuj Nayar, LendingClub’s financial health officer.


  3. Anonymous says:

    Or Caymanians traveling off island after not being able to after 2 years of a lockdown?

  4. Anonymous says:

    billionaires only ones thriving from it??? thanks PPM….bunch of …..

  5. Anonymous says:

    If Cryin’ Bryan is winning ANY awards, it can only tell you about the calibre of the other candidates.

  6. Anonymous says:

    However, Bryan said there was a potential to make up the numbers with other cruise lines with higher-yielding guests, such as MSC and Holland America…Bryan stressed his belief in the importance of the cruise sector and maintaining arrival numbers.

    Is there anything that he can snort to get it through his thick skull that the main reason for not wanting a cruise dock is because we didn’t want more cruise passengers?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Can someone let Kenny know that the plural of aircraft is aircraft, and not “aircrafts?”

    Can someone also let him know that flight attendants are not stewardesses.. ugh!

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually untrue. If there are different types of aircraft, the pleural is aircrafts.

      Stop belittling him. He is actually doing a good job.

      • Anonymous says:

        SMH, you are completely wrong on ‘aircraft’ and you can’t spell ‘plural’. Pleural is something to do with the lungs, not more than one.

        Other than that…

  8. Anonymous says:

    Cayman air arrivals are ahead of CIG projections: Despite the traffic congestion. 🧐
    Despite the fears of recession in US/Canada (primary markets) and significant layoffs in the tech sector in 2022. 🧐
    Despite the rising prices of accommodations and food and airfare. 🧐
    Despite the degradation of the southern portion of 7MB. 🧐

    How could this possibly be?😎

  9. Anonymous says:

    I wonder what percentage of these overnight visitors are actually Cubans travelling from Cuba to Jamaica, or Cubans travelling from USA through Cayman to Cuba?


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