Air arrivals still increasing

Cayman Islands’ tourist air arrivals for June show eight per cent growth despite the economic downturn both in the United States – where 80 per cent of visitors to Cayman come from – and globally.

And air arrivals for the year so far, through June, are nine per cent ahead of where they were last year.

Meanwhile, cruise tourism for June continued its downward trend with a slight fall of just less than three per cent on the previous year. But for the year so far cruise tourism is down 13.5 per cent on last year.

The month of June marks a 14-month stretch of continuous air arrival growth over the preceding year and, bar one month (April 2007), since September 2005 air arrivals have been gradually increasing. Tourism figures plunged after Hurricane Ivan in September 2004, which damaged 90 per cent of buildings on Grand Cayman.

In June 2008 there were 27,971 tourist air arrivals, the highest figure for the month since June 2001. The most recent June figure is up more than 2,000 visitors on last year, from 25,837.

For the year to date (through June) there have been 178,321 tourist air arrivals, which is 9.3 per cent ahead of where they were last year, at 163,086.

For the year to date in the major markets the number of air arrivals from the US has grown by nine per cent, from Europe by eight per cent and from Canada by 18 per cent. Air arrivals from other places have grown by nearly six per cent.

Meanwhile, this is the 13th month in a row that cruise tourism has been down on the previous year’s figure as part of a regional decline as new cruise markets open up elsewhere.

In June 2008 there were 93,120 cruise arrivals, down from 95,966 the previous year. The most recent June figure is the lowest for the month since 2001, which saw 85,528 cruise passengers.

The highest number of cruise passengers for June was in 2004 when there were 128,390.

A year ago the steep fall in cruise arrivals began and June 2007 fell 14.4 per cent from June 2006.

For the year to date there have been 901,474 cruise arrivals, down 13.5 per cent on the number this time last year, of 1.04 million.

Meanwhile the Cayman Islands has performed well within the region in terms of its air arrival figures for the first quarter of this year.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization has released its tourist figures for the first quarter, with the Cayman Islands coming in third for growth. Cuba experienced double-digit growth compared to the same period last year (up 15.2 per cent), as did Jamaica (up 10.1 per cent) while Cayman registered 9.5 per cent growth for the same period. St. Lucia was just behind with a 9.4 per cent growth while Antigua and Barbuda saw an 8.7 percent increase.

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