Air arrivals still sluggish

Although this year’s January tourist air arrival figure was up on the same month last year, it did not reach the levels seen during the first part of this decade.

Owen Roberts International Airport

Visitors arrive at Owen Roberts International Airport in this Compass file photo. Although this years January tourist air arrival figure was up on the same month last year, it did not reach the levels seen during the first part of this decade. Photo: File

January 2007’s figure was up 17 per cent on January 2006, but down between 3.34 and 18 per cent on preceding years in the first half of the decade.

This year’s air arrival figure for January of 23,726 compares favourably to last year’s figure of 20,163 and January 2005’s figure of 9,600, when the islands were recovering from Hurricane Ivan’s impact in September 2004.

But January 2007 was sluggish when compared to 2001, at 28,953, which was up over 5,000 passengers on this year. January 2000’s figure, at 26,879, is up over 3,000 visitors on this January.

Perhaps most telling was the fact that January 2007 was 819 arrivals down on January 2002 – just four months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States when stay-over tourism here took a significant downturn.

In 2003, when stay-over tourism was still sluggish as a result of the post-9/11 downturn, there were 24,727 arrivals in January, 1,001 more than this year.

This January is also down nearly 2,000 passengers, or 7.65 per cent, on 2004’s figure of 25,689, when stay-over tourism started making a strong recovery following 9/11.

With regard to cruise arrival numbers, this past January was the busiest on record with 255,948 cruise passengers visiting the Cayman Islands last month.

The figure was 6.74 per cent, or 14,270 passengers, up on the previous record for January – last year – at 211,678.

Cruise arrivals have been growing steadily each year and have more than doubled in the past eight years from January 2000 when there were 106,140 passengers.

Estimated occupancy rates in hotels for January 2007 were at 68.8 per cent, which is the highest figure for January since 1999, when they were at 77.9 per cent. For apartments in January 2007 the estimated occupancy was 41 per cent, the lowest level for apartments since last year’s January figure of 42.1 per cent. Apartment occupancy for January has been on a general decrease from back in 1998 when it was at 57.8 per cent.

The average length of stay for hotels this past January was 4.6 days, the third lowest average for January in the past eight years – the lowest being 4.3 days, in 1999. The longest average length of stay for hotels in January was 5.1 days in 2002.

The average length of stay at apartments in January this year was 7.8 days.

The highest average length of stay for apartments in January was 8.6 days in 2003 and the lowest was last year – at 6.8 days.

The most recent tourism figures are posted on the Department of Tourism’s website at www.caymanislands.ky/statistics

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