Air arrivals fall short

Tourist air arrival figures for March, although up 67 per cent on last year’s equivalent, are still 8.5 per cent down on the year with the lowest number for that month following 9/11.

Figures just released by the Department of Tourism show that in March 2006 there were 31,493 air arrival visitors to the Cayman Islands. That is 12,683 more visitors for the month than last year when the country was in recovery following Hurricane Ivan’s hit in September 2004.

However, March this year is 8.5 per cent down on the 2003 figure for that month (34,421), when arrivals were at their lowest for the month of March following 9/11. But there were still 2,928 more visitors in March that year than for this year.

In 2001 the figure for March was 41,558, in 2002 it was 39,378, and in 2004 it was 37,248.

So far this quarter there have been 76,660 visitors to the Cayman Islands, up 84.2 per cent on 2005 when there were 41,613.

However, the figure for this year’s first quarter is down 17 per cent on the first quarter for 2003 when there were 92,531 visitors. This means there were 15,871 more visitors for the quarter that year.

Cruise tourism for March is the highest it has ever been, up a slight 0.21 per cent on 2005.

In March this year there were 253,124 cruise visitors compared to 252,586 last year.

Cruising for the first quarter of this year is up on the equivalent period for last year, also, by 3.23 per cent. So far in this quarter there have been 645,477 cruise visitors, compared to 625,308 for the same period last year.

Occupancy in hotels, at 79 per cent, is very high for March 2006, compared to other years.

Although occupancy rates for 2005 are slightly higher at 80.6 per cent, this was during a time when inventory was lower and building back up following Hurricane Ivan.

Preceding years show the following occupancy rates: 74.1 per cent (2004), 62.9 per cent (2003), 61.4 per cent (2002), 70.4 per cent (2001), 75.5 per cent (2000), and 83.9 per cent (1999).

Occupancy rates for apartments (which covers condos, villas guest houses etc.) is lower for March this year than any other of the eight preceding years, barring 2003 when it was at 55.4 per cent.

The two highest years are 1998 (74.1 per cent) and 2002 (67.9 per cent).

The average length of stay for people a hotels in March this year was 4.7 days. The longest average for this month was back in 1998 when it was 5.6 days, with the shortest 4.2 in 1999.

The average length of stay at apartments in March 2006 was 7.2 days.

This, along with 2001, which was also 7.2 days, is the longest length of stay back to 1998 when it was 7.8 days. The shortest average length of stay at apartments in March was 5.8 days in 1999.