October air arrivals lower than post 9/11

While this past October’s tourist air arrival figures reflect it being a traditionally slow month, it was even slower than the October immediately following 9/11.

Although this year’s figure, 14,634, is up 31.8 per cent on 2005’s figure of 11,104, it is down eight per cent on the figure for October 2001, which is 15,898.

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001 tourism took an immediate downturn in the Cayman Islands.

Now the country is again trying to recover its tourism arrival figures since Hurricane Ivan hit in September 2004.

October 2006 figures also trail 2002 and 2003 figures for the month when the country was recovering from 9/11. The figure for 2002 was 16,151 – that’s 9.4 per cent more than this year’s. The figure for 2003 was 18,879 – 22.5 per cent more than this past October’s figure.

Prior to 9/11, in October 2000, there had been 21,684 air arrivals – that’s 32.5 per cent more than the most recent figure.

In October 2004 there were a mere 1,968 tourist air arrivals immediately following Hurricane Ivan and the figure reflects visitors with special permission to enter, such as relief workers.

So far this year (through October) there have been 217,596 tourist air arrivals in the Cayman Islands.

The most recent target figure for the end of this year, given at the annual Tourism Conference, is for 240,000 air arrivals. The original target of doubling 2005 figures (or getting 330,000 air arrivals) seems a far reach at this point.

For the year to date air arrivals are 65.8 per cent ahead of what they were for the same period last year, at 131,231.

Cruise tourism figures for last month are in much better shape than they were for 2005 when the industry suffered from at least a week of no activity. Bad weather caused by Hurricane Wilma prevented any cruise ships getting into port. The cruise arrivals figures for October last year reflect this, and are nearly half of this year’s figure. There was a mere 65,651 cruise passenger arrivals for October 2005, compared to 128,754 passengers for this October.

The only October that exceeds this past October’s cruise arrivals figure is that of 2003 when it was at 159,589, or 19.3 per cent higher.

So far this year (through October) there have been 1.6 million cruise passengers, which is nearly 10 per cent ahead of the total figure for the same period last year, at 1.4 million.

The highest number of cruise arrivals ever was 1.8 million in 2003.

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

The estimated apartment occupancy rates for October 2006 were 26.4 per cent. The lowest ever for October was 17.7 in October 2004 and the highest last year at 31.9 per cent.

This past October’s estimated hotel occupancy rate was 35 per cent. The lowest in recent years was in 2004, at 24.2 per cent while the highest was in 1999, at 61.5 per cent.

Average length of stay in October just gone in the apartment sector was 6.8 days. The lowest was in 1999, with five days. The highest in recent years was 13.l days in 2004.

Average length of stay in hotels this past October was 4.2 days, the same as the year 2000, the lowest length of stay for October in recent years.

The longest length of stay in hotels recently was last year, at 5.4 days.

Occupancy and length of stay figures for the period immediately following Hurricane Ivan are reflective of visitors with special permission to enter the island: relief workers, staff members and residents who were temporarily housed, as well as visitors arriving for vacation purposes between 20 November, 2004 and 31 December, 2004.

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