Guest numbers climb toward pre-pandemic levels

| 02/01/2024 | 12 Comments
Cayman News Service
Cayman Airways at ORIA (photo by Lana Gilyun)

(CNS): Overnight guest arrivals in November 2023 reached 93% of the numbers for the same month in 2019, the last year before the Cayman Islands Government shut the borders to protect the country from COVID-19, according to Department of Tourism statistics. However, the pace of return was impacted by the borders here remaining closed longer than many other Caribbean destinations, which have already hit pre-pandemic levels.

Nevertheless, with 35,765 stayover visitors in November and indications that December was also busy, arrivals exceeded the target for 2023 of 70% of the 500,000 guests in 2019.

According to the DoT, between January and November, there were 379,370 stayover visitors, exceeding 2022’s year-to-date numbers by 61% and representing about 85% of 2019’s numbers, which is likely to increase once December is factored in. November’s numbers were the third best for that month since the DoT began recording statistics, falling short of 2019’s record-breaking 38,463 and 2018’s 38,172.

The Cayman Islands is on track to surpass 400,000 stayover visitors for the first time since 2019, Tourism Director Rosa Harris noted in a press release outlining the numbers. “We are especially pleased with our United States visitation, as these statistics underscore the healthy rebound and resilience of the United States as our main source market and further affirms the Cayman Islands’ position as a preferred destination for American visitors.”

According to DoT statistics, visitors from the US made up 83% of total arrivals in the first eleven months of 2023, and in November 2023 reached 95% of 2019’s visitation – the highest recovery rate for the market compared to pre-pandemic levels. The Northeastern region of the US was up 3.3% compared to November 2019 and up 10.2% from November 2022.

Visitors from Canada, the second largest source of stayover visitors for air arrivals, made up 6.4% of the overall figures from January through November, up from 5.9% in 2019, which the DoT said indicates a sustained recovery for this market.

Stayover visitors from the UK and Ireland accounted for 3.5% of the total arrivals in November 2023 and 3.3% of arrivals for the first eleven months. Air arrivals from Latin America were 1.3% of overall figures. Both of these regions were on par with 2019.

Meanwhile, more than one million cruise ship visitors docked in George Town for the first time since 2019. While this is less than 70% of 2019’s figures, not everyone sees this drop as a negative, given the detrimental impact on certain key attractions and the destination as a whole by oversaturation of cruise passengers.

Stayover visitor statistics (Source: Cayman Islands DoT)

See more details of visitor numbers here.

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Category: Business, Tourism

Comments (12)

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  1. Anonymous says:


  2. Anonymous says:

    It’s great to see growth and success in this industry. There still is room for improvement in different areas. Hopefully Government will get together and agree on a realistic forward future plan. This includes preserving our natural beauty, elevating our people and services while be the destination choice for anyone who wants to visit

  3. Anonymous says:

    Time to ban all cruise ships!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Ban the stay over tourists. They clog our roads and crowd our beaches whereas cruise tourists leave each day at 300pm.

      • Anonymous says:

        Stayover tourists contribute 70% of the GDP generated by tourism. They also leave you know? They are just here a bit longer. Cruise tourism only benefits a select few. I’d rather they be barred.

      • Johnny Canuck says:

        7:52, Do you realize that all those damn cruise ship people clog up the roads on buses before 3:00 PM all over the Seven Mile Beach Corridor every day except Sunday?

        They also clog up Seven Mile Beach for all the high paying stay over tourists who spend big bucks every day and pay tourism taxes.

        Stop the cruise ships.

        • Anonymous says:

          Ban stayover tourism for clogging our roads and beaches.

          Cruisers ride busses, walk around downtown and most importantly they leave each day.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I wonder why would anyone vacation in Cayman. SMB is gone. Mt.Trasmore?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Not necessarily a good thing. It was an absolute zoo over Christmas. Venturing into the supermarket was enough to make anyone claustrophobic and the driving standard was abysmal. Cant say it filled me with festive joy.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Now imagine if we had of spent some of the last 5 years improving infrastructure associated with these tourist numbers….

  7. Anonymous says:

    are we counting returning residents this time?


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