Air arrivals growth continues

A 9.8 per cent growth in tourist air arrivals for May sees a continuing increase in air arrivals in spite of the economic downturn in the US – where 80 per cent of Cayman’s tourists come from.

However, cruise tourism also continues its downward spiral. The month of May saw cruise passenger numbers fall by 22.4 per cent.

The month of May marks a 13-month stretch of continuous air arrival growth over the preceding year. And bar one month (April 2007), since September 2005 air arrivals have gradually increased every month to the point where they are now showing figures similar to 2004. The first half of 2004 is significant as it came before Hurricane Ivan, which damaged 90 per cent of buildings on Grand Cayman, and was a point when tourism had recovered post 9/11.

Taking a closer look at the air arrival figures, in May this year there were 25,722 air arrivals compared to 23,427 last year. The 2008 figure is the highest figure for May in the past seven years, only being beaten by the pre 9/11 Mays of 2000 and 2001, which were 28,789 and 27,023 respectively.

For the year to date (through May) tourist air arrivals have grown 9.5 per cent over last year, at 150,350 compared to 137,249.

For the year to date in the major markets, the number of air arrivals from the US has grown by 8.8 per cent, those from Europe have grown by 9.7 per cent and those from Canada have grown by 19 per cent.

Meanwhile, this is the twelfth month in a row that cruise tourism has been down on the previous year’s figure. The decline has been attributed to a regional decline in cruise tourism as new markets open up in the Mediterranean and Asia.

Taking a closer look at cruise arrival figures, in May 2008 there were 101,312 arrivals, down from 130,555 for May last year.

The May 2008 figure is the lowest for the month since 2001. Last year’s figure was the highest ever for May.

For the year to date cruise arrivals are down 14.65 per cent on where they were last year, at 808,354 compared to 947,098.