Air arrivals finally up

For the first time in 15 months, air arrivals have gone up compared to the same month the previous year.

tourism up

Air arrivals increased in November 2009 compared to the same time last year according to recently released DoT figures. Photo: Stephen Clarke

Figures released by the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism indicated an upturn in air arrivals in November, with 20,614 this year compared to 19,731 in 2008.

Cruise ship passenger arrivals were also up for the month, with 118,292 this year as opposed to 117,221 last November.

However, last year’s air arrivals and cruise passenger arrivals were affected negatively by the passing of Hurricane Paloma, a Category 4 event that caused damage to Grand Cayman and widespread devastation to the Sister Islands.

Trina Christian of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association said that room stock had been lost on Grand Cayman and the Brac as a result of Hurricane Paloma, which had an impact on arrival figures and macroeconomic factors.

‘We were on the right track until then and then the economic downturn really set in,’ she said.

Numbers soar

The total number of tourists – by air and by ship – visiting in November 2009 was also significantly higher than the previous month. This past October, 111,628 tourists visited in total, which soared to 138,906 in November, an increase of 27,278 tourists in total for the Islands. This constitutes a 24.4 per cent increase month-on-month.

Ms Christian is encouraged by the increase in visitors, commenting that it showed there is a new mindset in visitors.

‘We had seen signs of things picking up this year and 2008 was a particularly bad time for us. By December last year we’d seen a dip in arrivals due to the economy worldwide.

‘Consumer confidence is rising which is important. We’re hopeful that this season will be better than the last… because the time that we really need to get ahead is during the next three or four months,’ she added

Creative

Ms Christian says that the figures indicate that the destination and its properties are being more creative with their marketing strategies as well as lowering prices in order to stimulate demand.

‘Our market research and consumer destination research tells us that one thing people are not cutting down on is anything to do with family travel and family experiences. As we are a family destination, that puts us in a good position.

‘We are also seeing group bookings up as compared to last year and we are starting to see a lengthening of the booking window.’

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