Air travel soars in November

    Cayman Airways

    Air arrivals to Cayman soared to the
    third-best figures in 10 years in November 2010.

    According to figures released by the
    Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, 23,151 visitors arrived by air during the
    month. That beats out all previous November figures aside from 2007, when
    25,227 people arrived, and 2002, with 23,903 registered arrivals.

    On 5 November, WestJet began service
    between Owen Roberts International Airport and Toronto, which added to the
    increase in Canadian arrivals from 1,544 to 2,209 when compared to the same
    month in 2009. There was also a 10 per cent increase in passengers from the
    United States, with 17,596 tourists in 2010 compared to the 15,874 who arrived
    the previous year.

    Arrival figures for December 2010 are
    not released by the DoT until the end of January, but the first 11 months of
    2010 were better than the same period in 2009 by nearly 7,000, although still
    lagging when compared to 2007 and 2008, each of which at this stage numbered
    nearly 270,000 arrivals.

    Cruise figures released indicated
    154,258 people came to Cayman in November, a 36,000 increase on the same period
    in 2009. Retailers noted increases in pre-Christmas sales as a direct result.
    Robert Hamaty of Tortuga Rum Co. said earlier in December that the
    Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association had researched the impact that on-shore
    spending could have on Cayman.

    “The 36,000 more passengers in a
    month at the average [on-shore spend in the Cayman Islands] of $96.78
    represents an extra $3.5 million.

    [There also is]  extra crew spend of average $108.81, plus a
    port head tax $14 per passenger plus tender fee, etc. And the trickle-down
    effect on hourly paid staff is more hours and more overtime,” said Mr. Hamaty.

    However, December’s cruise and air
    figures are expected to be affected by weather conditions, with six flights
    around Christmas to and from Owen Roberts International Airport cancelled due
    to heavy storms in the US and UK. Because of locally inclement weather, at
    least 20,661 fewer cruise ship passengers have visited than the anticipated
    full-ship complement of 193,148 potential visitors, according to Port Authority

    Accommodation tax falls

    Despite the increase in stay-over
    arrivals, total accommodation tax revenues have declined.

    According to statistics compiled by
    the Department of Tourism, tourism accommodation tax revenues for the financial
    year July 2009 to July 2010 fell by $370,000 compared to the previous financial

    Combined accommodation tax and
    timeshare charges collected from all properties came to $10,130.118 from July
    2009 to June 2010. For the period of July 2008 to June 2009 the total was

    Occupancy over the 12 months over all
    seasons averaged 60.83 per cent for hotels and 40.38 per cent for all other
    accommodation, including condos, apartments, villas, cottage colonies, guest
    houses and bed and breakfasts. This compares to 59.6 per cent for hotels and
    42.37 for others in 2008-09.

    Consultant Tom McCallum said that the
    overall tourism tax figures bore up well in the current financial climate.

    “With pressure on rates and tourist
    numbers, I think these are pretty good, all things considered with the global
    and regional economy,” he noted.

    The Tourism Accommodation Tax is
    defined by the law as 10 per cent of the amount charged by the hotel to each
    tourist for accommodation services only, and the calculation has the same basis
    irrespective of the type of property and exclusive of all other services
    including food, drink and other consumables supplied.

    Also included in the Department of
    Tourism’s figures are timeshare charges. These are calculated as US$10 per
    night per room occupied
    by a tourist.

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    Air arrivals to Cayman soared to the third-best figures in 10 years in November 2010.