Air arrivals’ gap lessens

There has been a good start to tourism this year, with the gap closing in on figures for most recent air arrivals and previous years. This January’s cruise tourism figures show the highest numbers ever for the month.

Although January of this year shows air arrivals down 18 per cent on 2002’s, when tourism took a downturn following 9/11, 18 per cent represents a significant drop in the gap in recent months.

January 2006 shows an air arrival figure of 20,163, down 18 per cent on 2002’s equivalent (24,545), the first January following 9/11. This year’s January figure is more than double 2005’s figure of 9,601, the first January following Hurricane Ivan.

Cruise tourism for January has never been better, up 23.82 per cent on 2005’s January figure of 170,961, and almost double the figure of January 2001 (106,140). It is up two per cent on the previous highest figure for the month, (207,411) in 2004.

Air arrivals have been slowly climbing since Hurricane Ivan disrupted tourism in September 2004. The gap is certainly closing in between most recent figures and pre-Ivan figures. For instance, while the January figure is down 18 per cent on 2002’s equivalent, the first January following 9/11, December 2005’s air tourist arrival figure of 21,588 was down nearly 25 per cent on the figure for the December following 9/11. November’s 2005 figure was down 35 per cent on post 9/11 November’s figure. October 2005’s figure was down 30 per cent on post 9/11 October.

Hotel occupancy rates for January just gone were on average 57.7 per cent, down 4.3 per cent on 2005s average rate of 62 per cent, but higher than the three previous year’s of 57.6 per cent (2004), 56.7 per cent (2003) and 51.3 per cent (2002). For a few years prior to this, rates were in the 60 per cent and 70 per cent bracket.

Occupancy rates for apartments this January were on average 43.9 per cent, up on the previous three years, which averaged around 42 per cent, but down on years preceding this, which were in the high 40 and 50 per cent bracket.

Average length of stay in hotels for January was 4.6 days, down on the previous four years, until 2001 when it was 4.5 days. In 2005 it was 4.9 days, in 2004 it was 4.7 days, in 2003 it was five days, and in 2002 it was 5.1 days.

Average length of stay in apartments for January was 7.1 days, the lowest length, by a very slight margin, in eight years. Other lengths for previous Januarys were 7.4 (2005), 7.7 (2004), 8.6 (2003), 8.4 (2002), 7.9 (2001), 7.9 (2000), 7.8 (1999) and 7.8 (1998).

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now