Although tourist air arrivals grew by up to 11 per cent for the month of August, cruise arrivals were down just over 12 per cent on last year.
According to figures posted by the Department of Tourism, August 2008’s air arrivals figure is 21,629 compared to last year’s 19,481.
However, of this extra 11 per cent, or 2,148 extra passengers, there is a potential error fraction of up to four per cent.
Footnotes at the bottom of the Department of Tourism’s August statistics state that this could be the case because of conflicting values in records, including 742 records entered as tourists which also stated a purpose of in-transit.
The Caymanian Compass and Observer on Sunday previously reported that passengers who transit through the airport to catch connecting flights are being counted as air arrivals in the yearly and monthly tourism figures.
Explaining earlier this year why these figures are included, the Department of Tourism noted that some of the guests recorded as ‘in-transit’ overnight in the Cayman Islands before going to their final destination. ‘In line with regional guidelines, guests who overnight in a paid accommodation and spend here should be included in overall air arrival numbers,’ an email from DoT stated.
They said there was no system in place to confirm how many of the in-transit visitors spend the night here compared to how many do not.
The Immigration Department, which records this data, was to meet with the Department of Tourism recently to try to work out a system whereby the figures can be separated.
The August 2008 figure is the highest since Hurricane Ivan damaged 90 per cent of buildings on Grand Cayman, but is lower than the Augusts spanning through 2000 to 2004.
For the year to date (through August) air arrivals are up 9.8 per cent on the same period for 2007.
Again, there is a potential error fraction, this time of two per cent. This is because of conflicting values for records, including 4,680 records entered as tourists with a stated purpose of in-transit.
Meanwhile, cruise arrivals for August 2008 were down 12.4 per cent on the previous year, from 99,753 to 87,381.
The most recent cruise figure for August is the lowest cruise figure for that month in the past eight years.
Cruise tourism started its general decline back in 2007.
For the year to date cruise tourism is down 12.35 per cent, from 1.25 million in 2007 to 1.09 million in 2008.
The cruise passenger statistics reflect the total number on visiting ships. According to DoT, there is an estimated 90 per cent rate of disembarkation in Grand Cayman based on estimates by the Port Authority and the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association.
The statistics are posted at www.caymanislands.ky/statistics