Cruise down, air up for May

Joe Shooman

Cruise arrivals for May were down
by nearly 5,000 compared to the same time last year.

Acting Director of Tourism Shomari
Scott attributed the downturn into two major factors. First, he noted, the
Carnival Inspiration was forced to cancel its scheduled visit due to bad
weather, which meant 2,500 passengers did not dock. Another ship altered its
itinerary, he added.

The Disney Magic, which typically
calls on the Cayman Islands in May and stays throughout the summer months, has
changed its schedule and will return to the Cayman Islands in October, he said.

“This change in schedule, coupled
with the one ship that was not able to visit due to inclement weather is
responsible for the variance in visitation numbers for the month of May,” said
Mr. Scott.

Statistics

According to the latest statistics
from the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, a total of 114,504 registered
visitors arrived by ship, compared to 119,329 in 2009. This represented a
downturn of 4 per cent on a direct year-on-year comparison.

However, for the year to date,
cruise arrivals have reached 747,375, compared to a total of 724,089 by May
2009. This represents a 3.2 per cent increase, despite significant weather
disruptions during April that led to an unusually high number of missed or
cancelled calls by cruise ships.

Businesses suffered as a result,
and licensee Stefan Baraud said the lost calls were responsible for the closure
of George Town restaurant and souvenir shop, Señor Frog’s in mid-May.

“Historically, May statistics from
2000 to 2010 are consistently lower than the month of April, as this is the
start of the traditional summer season, and typically the shoulder after
Easter,” said Shomari Scott, tourism director. “May is also the month for
graduations and when kids are just getting out of school. Consequently, it is
the softer period before summer travel picks up for June for family vacations.”

Robert Hamaty of the Association
for the Advancement of Cruise Tourism was more forthright in his assessment of
the situation.

“Due to the poor cruise passengers
experience in Cayman, cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises,
Princess and NCL have reduced calls to Cayman. Until berthing is provided there
will be no improvements [in numbers],” he said.

Air arrivals up

Air arrivals were marginally up in
May 2010, with a total of 21,824 arriving compared to 21,438 in 2009, an
increase of 1,8 per cent. The biggest increase was in visitors from the
American Southwest, with 3,754 compared to 3,300 last year.

British Airways strikes that took
place during May shaved off only 77 visitors compared to last year, with 1,059
arriving from the UK and Ireland in 2010, and 1,136 in 2009. Continental Europe’s
arrivals jumped from 324 twelve months ago to 688 this year. Canadian arrivals
improved from 1,072 in 2009 to 1,283.

However, according to the
department’s own information, 13 per cent of US tourist arrivals had unknown
regional information and were therefore estimated. Some 1,308 of these 2,335
arrivals had missing data and so were estimated as US arrivals based on
citizenship information, and 1,027 records were known to be US arrivals but
were missing valid Zip Code information.

Yearly statistics to date show a
decrease overall in air visitors by 0.5 per cent. Last year there were 49,411
visitors up to the end of May, while in 2010 the stats showed 49,179.

The figures are collected by the
Cayman Islands Immigration Department. The Department of Tourism’s
documentation states that every visitor during the period was counted as a
tourist arrival.

Five records entered as tourists
also had a reported country of permanent residence being Cayman Islands; three
records entered as tourists also had a stated purpose as returning resident.

Nine per cent of arrivals by air
had missing or unknown country information, which was estimated by known
citizenship information. Of the 19,895 visitor records in May with known values
for the country field, 95 per cent of them had a country value that equalled
the citizenship value, the statistics document said.

Website accolade

The Cayman Islands has been
featured in several categories of a travel website’s Travellers’ Choice Awards.
The awards are based on reviews of travellers who post on the TripAdvisor site.
Grand Cayman was voted top outdoor and adventure destination in the Caribbean
& Mexico; sixth best relaxation and spa destination; sixth most romantic
destination in the Caribbean and Mexico region; and seventh in the Caribbean’s
Best Beaches.

Turtle Nest Inn in Bodden Town was
voted 10th best bargain hotel in the world and number two in the Caribbean and
Mexico region, which also came in the top ten for best service.

“Those of us who live here know
that our famed Seven Mile Beach is among the best in the world, but winning an
accolade of this calibre is a huge testament to the beauty, quality and service
that visitors experience when they visit our islands,” said Mr. Scott.

 Learn more about Cayman’s tourism industry  

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