New targets for air arrival numbers and points of origin were announced by Tourism Minister Charles Clifford at this year’s Tourism Conference.
The new targets are 300,000 air arrivals in 2007, to subsequently increase by six per cent in 2008 to 318,000.
Mr. Clifford told conference attendees the decisions come out of a two and a half day marketing session attended by the Department of Tourism, its agencies and representatives from the Cayman Islands Tourism Association.
The numbers, while a significant increase over the 2005 total which reached 167,801, and which may surpass 2006 numbers which have reached 174,742 as of June, are still low in light of historical figures.
The new target is less than the 302,797 air arrivals in 2002, which were considered very low as a result of the 9/11 terrorism attacks in the United States. The target is also considerably less than the 354,087 air arrivals in 2000, and the 334,071 that came in 2001 despite the late year drop off due to 9/11.
The seemingly low future targets may reflect a new trend in Cayman to attract fewer but more affluent stay-over visitors in response to new data suggesting the Cayman Islands’ visitor profile has shifted upward, to a higher earning, better educated clientele.
Until recently, Minister Clifford said a typical stay-over visitor had an annual household income equalling or surpassing US$75,000, was a college graduate and was between the ages of 30 – 60.
‘Today’s average Cayman Islands guest has a household income of US$100K or higher, has a first and frequently a second degree, and is between the ages of 30 and 64,’ he said.
Tourism conference attendees also heard that the marketing session also established three main core target groups:
- ‘Extender markets’, which include groups such as divers and people travelling for ‘romantic reasons’, and;
- ‘Filler markets,’ visitors motivated by special interest and lifestyle pursuits able to ‘fill in’ off-weeks in the slow season.
Mr. Clifford was convinced by the rationale for establishing these groups.
‘This agreement on ‘who’ comprises the Core Target Markets is also critical as it provides the joint public-private sector marketing team with a clear and distinct direction on ‘how’ to allocate funds and on ‘what not to get involved with’ … quite simply put, if it is not our target we shouldn’t do it.,’ he said.
Mr. Clifford revealed the new target area for bringing in tourists fitting the target profiles is the U.S. Northeast, especially the New York area.
A joint work group has been put together to explore options and make further recommendations to the Ministry in the near future.