Cayman’s tourism arrival figures took a significant drop in November 2008.
Air arrival figures fell nearly 22 per cent on the previous November, while cruise arrivals dropped by nearly 15 per cent.
The November 2008 air arrival figure, as well as being down on last year, is also 11.4 per cent down on November 2006.
In November 2008 there were 19,731 air arrivals compared to 25,227 the previous year and 22,276 in 2006. The 2008 figure is the third lowest for November in the past nine years.
This is the third month in a row this year that air arrivals have declined following increases since April last year, the only month that had a decline last year.
Minister for Tourism Charles Clifford says the November 2008 arrival numbers are not surprising because the decline shows the cumulative impact of the third and most serious hurricane that threatened Cayman in 2008.
‘Hurricane Paloma, which followed Hurricanes Gustav and Ike before it, triggered visitor evacuations, resulted in damage and even closures of hotels and other rental property on all three islands and most significantly left one entire island, Cayman Brac, closed to tourism more than a month on.’
Coupled with this there were US elections and the continued constriction on the world economy, the Minister added.
Despite the global economic crisis, air arrivals for the year to date (through November) are 5.2 per cent ahead of last year.
For the year so far (through November) the Cayman Islands have had 274,729 air arrivals.
At the recent Annual Tourism Conference Acting Director of Tourism Shomari Scott outlined that the target figure for this year is 300,000 tourist air arrivals.
November’s cruise arrival figure is 117,221 which is down 14.8 per cent on the same month last year and 27 per cent down on November 2006.
In fact, November 2008 has been the second worst performing November for cruise tourism in the past nine years, the worst being back in November 2000.
For the year to date, cruise arrival figures are down 10.6 per cent on last year.
Cruise figures began to fall in early 2007 after many years of positive growth.
But despite a tough November, December finds Cayman’s tourism community resolute and determined to move forward, said Minister Clifford.
‘We have expanded our voice within the US and particularly the northeast region by launching television advertising in a strategic market, Washington DC.
‘This market and Chicago were deemed by our private sector and wider tourism community to be the most important routes to achieve this winter and, with the help of Cayman Airways, new lift has been added.
‘Hoteliers are reporting strong numbers for December and January even as the DoT continues to aggressively raise awareness of the brand among our target audience and to highlight private sector’s specific value offers which exist for travel to the Cayman Islands.’
The tourism arrival statistics are posted at www.caymanislands.ky/statistics