Although tourist air arrivals continue on their low trend, for the first time this year air arrivals for a month are much higher than that of the equivalent for the previous year.
Last month’s (September) air arrivals came to 8,494 while September 2004’s arrivals were just 4,982. Of course, last year’s arrivals are abnormally low because of Hurricane Ivan’s arrival on the 11th, putting a halt to tourism. That makes this year’s September figure a 70.5 per cent increase on last year’s. September in 2001, 2002 and 2003 were in the 11,000s for air arrivals while that month in 2000 was at 16,033.
However, as of 23 September last, the total number of guest rooms licensed on all three islands stood at 39.45 per cent of total pre-Ivan rooms (for hotels, guesthouses and apartments). However at this time apartments and guesthouses were going through re-licensing, so this figure is very variable. Projections show that by November 63 per cent of pre-Ivan guest rooms should be operational and by December 80 per cent should be.
Of the total 5,181 pre-Ivan room stock figure for all three islands, by December there should be 4,173 (or 81 per cent) of licensed bedrooms available, according to projections.
Cruise arrivals for September this year are up 184.8 per cent on last year’s equivalent, with this year’s figure at 118,466 and last year’s at 41,596.
However, air arrivals for the year to date are dismally low compared to last year’s equivalent, down by over a half (56.8 per cent). It also must be considered that for this year to date room stock for the most part has been well under half the pre-Ivan figure.
Cruise tourism for the year to date is up slightly on last year, up 0.28 per cent. So far this year (through September) there have been 1,356,327 cruise visitors to these shores, while in 2004 there were 1,352,556 passengers.