The Cayman Islands ranked fourth in direct cruise tourism expenditure out of 19 destinations in the Caribbean in a recent survey, while it had the second highest number of onshore visitors.
A report titled Economic Impact of Cruise Tourism on the Caribbean Economy was unveiled during the FCCA Conference at a press briefing Wednesday afternoon at the Westin Casuarina Resort.
Business Research and Economic Advisors was engaged by the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association and 19 participating destinations to conduct an analysis of cruise related spending and its impact on economies.
The Cayman Islands was fourth for direct cruise tourism expenditure during the period of the survey (the 2005 – 2006 cruise year). The US Virgin Islands led all destinations with $362 million, followed by St. Maarten with $246 million, Cozumel with $214 million, and the Cayman Islands, with $180 million.
The Cayman Islands had 1.67 million visitors come ashore, second only to Cozumel, which had 1.71 million. Following this came USVI with 1.63 million, Bahamas with 1.58 and St. Maarten with 1.3 million. The lowest was Cartagena with 32,400 visitors.
The average spending per passenger in the Cayman Islands was $82.73, which is ninth in average passenger spending across all the destinations. The highest was the USVI, at $179.69 per passenger and the lowest Martinique at $39.35.
Commenting on the fact that passenger spending in Cayman is lower relative to the number of passenger onshore visits compared to destinations such as USVI and St. Maarten, cruise officials said that the latter two destinations would have seen the passengers on the islands for a longer period of time, with a very good mix of goods there.
Chairman of the FCCA and CEO and Chairman of Carnival Cruise Lines Micky Arison said passengers are not spending as much in Cayman because they are waiting in line for tenders and the crew is busier because of this also.
‘The process of tendering is unbelievably expensive to a destination,’ he said.
Although 1.67 million came ashore in Cayman, 1.86 million cruise passengers arrived on board the ships.
Cruise tourism generated nearly $1.8 billion in direct expenditures, 41,500 jobs and $600 million in employee wages in the 19 destinations.
The $180 million in cruise tourism spending in the Cayman Islands, generated 3,705 total jobs and $66 million in wage income during the 2005-2006 cruise year.
Total passenger expenditure for the Cayman Islands was $138.3 million, behind the US Virgin Islands, at $288.3 million, St Maarten at $189 million, and $157 million in Cozumel. The lowest passenger expenditure was $3 million in Martinique.
The report also shows that the Cayman Islands had slightly fewer onshore crew visits than St. Maarten, but the crew also spent significantly less here than in St. Maarten.
Crew visits for Cayman came fifth at 261,678 visits. Ahead of us were Cozumel (356,400), USVI (351,500), St. Maarten (289,800) and Bahamas (279,800).
Cayman came 11th in average spending per crew member (at $45.92 compared to St. Maarten’s $159.55 – the highest on the table) and it came fifth in total crew expenditures, at $12 million, behind USVI ($50.6 million), St. Maarten ($46.2 million), San Juan Puerto Rico ($18.6 million) and Cozumel ($17.4 million).
Of the estimated 747,650 crew that were aboard the ship 35 per cent disembarked.
Unlike passengers, shore excursions are not a focus of crew spending. Crew expenditures are more heavily weighted toward food and beverages, local transportation, retail purchases of clothing and telephone and internet services.
Cruise lines spent an estimated $29.4 million in the Cayman Islands primarily on port fees and taxes. It came fourth in total expenditures by cruise lines, behind Bahamas $42.8 million, Cozumel at $39.5 million, San Juan in Puerto Rico, at $36.4 million.
The data shows that 72 per cent of all onshore visits to the Cayman Islands were on shore excursions with the average spend per party on this at $65.98. The typical cruise party in the Cayman Islands consisted of 2.2 passengers. Fifty two per cent of all visits spent money on food and beverage; with a $34.30 average spend per party. Forty eight per cent spent on clothing, with an average of $54.70 per party. Thirty eight per cent spent on local crafts and souvenirs with an average spend of $28 per party. Thirty five per cent spent on taxis and ground transportation with $24.90 spent per party. Eighteen per cent bought jewellery, at an average of $367.2 spent per party.
Thirty five per cent of onshore visits from crew saw them spend money on food and beverages in Cayman, with $32.10 the average spent per crew member.
Twelve per cent of onshore visits from crew in Cayman spent money on ground transportation, at an average spend of $15.80 each and only five per cent of those that came ashore purchased jewellery, at an average of $333.90 each.
Of the passengers that went ashore in Cayman 73 per cent made at least one purchase and 72 per cent purchased a shore excursion. Seventy per cent purchased their tour through the cruise lines and 30 per cent purchased their tour onshore or on the internet.
Cruise passengers felt very satisfied with their cruise call in the Cayman Islands with a mean score of 7.4 (visit met expectations) on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the highest score.
The highest average score of 8.8 was given for safety. Other categories above 8 (very satisfied) were given for guided tour, island beaches, friendliness of residents and courtesy of local employees.
Categories scoring seven (very satisfied) were for initial shore-side welcome, variety of shops and local transportation.
Categories that got somewhat satisfied scores (between six and seven) were overall shopping experience, historic sites and overall prices.
Passengers were somewhat likely to recommend a resort vacation in the Cayman Islands to family or friends (6.8) and to return themselves (5.3).
Residents of the US and Canada accounted for 97 per cent of the responding passengers. The average age of respondents was 47. The Cayman Islands passengers had an average household income of $100,700.
The analysis done was through surveys of passengers, crew, data on arrivals and port fees and other economic data and through the development of economic impact models.