Air arrivals picking up

Although air arrivals are picking up, they are still significantly lower than previous years, the latest statistics show.

Air arrivals for October 2005 were 11,104. This is nearly 60 per cent of 2003’s October figure of 18,879, which was the highest for the month since 2000, (21,684).

Since October 2005’s figure is down just over 40 per cent on 2003’s figure it shows a lessening of the air arrivals gap. Most months this year have been roughly half of the previous year’s air arrivals for the corresponding month.

Last year’s October figure of 1,968 reflects the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Ivan when travel restrictions for visitors were in place. The figure therefore relates to relief workers and others authorised to travel.

So far this year there have been 131,230 air arrivals, down 46.3 per cent on the previous year’s year-to-date total of 244,513.

Director of Tourism Pilar Bush recently said Cayman has to double its 2005 tourism numbers to reach its 2006 goals.

Cruise tourism in October suffered from at least a week of no activity. Bad weather caused by Hurricane Wilma prevented any cruise ships getting into port. There were a mere 65,651 cruise passenger arrivals, a figure well under half of 2003’s figure for October, which was 159,589.

Due to Hurricane Ivan, no cruise ships docked during the month of October 2004. Cruise ships returned to Grand Cayman on 1 November, 2004.

However, cruise ship arrivals for this year so far (1.42 million) are up 5.13 per cent on the numbers for the equivalent period for 2004 (1.35 million).

The average occupancy rate for hotels in October was at 50.4 per cent, which is well up on previous years and, in fact, the highest since 2000 when it was at 52.2 per cent. Occupancy for apartments (covering condos, villas, cottage colonies) in October was at 26.1 per cent, the highest occupancy since 2000 when it was 29.6 per cent.

Guests stayed an average of 5.4 days in hotels in October, the longest length of stay in the past eight years, and guests in apartments etc. stayed an average of 6.9 days.

The latest statistics can viewed on the Department of Tourism’s website at www.caymanislands.ky/statistics