Arrivals up for first quarter

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 Air and cruise arrivals were both
up in March 2010 when compared to the same month last year, but unsettled
weather has had an effect on cruise-related tourism businesses.

Cruise arrivals were 177,664 during
March 2010, an increase of more than 10,000 on the same month of 2009.

This is a 6.1 per cent increase on
March last year but the year-to-date figure of 472,036 is only a 1.3 per cent
increase on March 2009, partly due to an unusual amount of cancelled ship calls
due to inclement weather during February this year.

Tour operators

Vassel ‘Bud’ Johnson Jr., general
manager of Atlantis Submarines Limited, says the company’s business is dependent
on both air and cruise arrivals on an almost exactly equal split.

He said that taken on a three-month
basis the weather had made a significant difference to tour operators and other
related businesses.

“One of the things that has
impacted us during the first quarter is the amount of cruise ships that had to
be diverted to Spotts and subsequent tours cancelled.

“The resulting lack of business
that we get when the tourists come ashore has been significant,” noted the
submarine boss.

While arrivals may be increased, as
a result of a number of similar instances cruise-related revenue is down, he
said. This is a function of visitors coming ashore at Spotts and having less
time on Cayman as a result, said Mr. Johnson.

“While the number of arrivals may
be up, I suspect that from a business perspective many of the businesses, like
ourselves, are going to be seeing their revenue down in the first quarter as a
whole.

“It’s one of the biggest
weather-impacted first quarters I’ve seen in many, many years. Every week you’d
turn around and there’s another cold front,” he added.

Stayover up

In the stayover market, 35,642
arrived by air in March 2010 compared to 31,194 at the same time in 2009. The
year-on-year increase is 14.3 per cent. It’s the fifth largest number of air
arrivals for March this decade and the second biggest in the last five years,
beaten out by the 38,425 that arrived in 2008.

So far this year, 87,841 have
arrived in the first quarter compared to 81,080 in the first three months 2009,
representing an improved visitation of 8.3 per cent.

The largest market was the United States,
with 80.3 per cent of all arrivals. Canadian visitors comprised 8.7 per cent
and Europe provided 6.5 per cent to the
figures. The report says that it considers all visitors recorded by the Cayman
Islands Immigration Department as tourist arrivals.

Early season

Both cruise tourism numbers and air
arrivals had a correlation with increased activity in the destination wedding
sector.

Desiree Evans, wedding planner with
Grand Old House, said that March was early season for the industry but already
there had been several weddings on-island.

“When cruise numbers go up we are picking
up on weddings as well; [the most popular days are] usually Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

“April and May are the most popular
months for weddings, but we’ve certainly already started this March,” she noted.

TOURIST

More tourists coming to the Cayman Islands is good business for downtown shops.
Photo: File
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