After several years of steady improvement, the growth of Cayman’s tourism industry began to slow this year.
The cancellation of an international youth soccer tournament has been blamed for a slower-than-expected summer season.
Arrivals through the third quarter of this year are roughly on a par with the same period last year.
Initially, tourism officials had forecast a 5 percent increase in arrivals for 2015 after a double-digit increase in 2014 culminated in a record year for arrivals.
But despite a successful start to the year, numbers dropped between May and August.
Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said the cancellation of the CONCACAF under-15 soccer tournament, which would have brought 36 teams, including squads from England and Brazil, to the island in August had an impact.
He said the event would have attracted at least 4,000 people, buffering arrivals during the typically slow summer months.
“We were worried about August after losing CONCACAF,” he said. “That’s 36 teams, friends and family, officials and sponsors. That’s a big loss.”
The Cayman tournament was a casualty of the turmoil that surrounded CONCACAF, the region’s governing body for football, following the May arrest in Switzerland of Cayman’s Jeffrey Webb and other officials on FIFA-related corruption charges. Mr. Kirkconnell said sports and event-driven tourism are still a major part of the tourism strategy for the late summer season, typically slower months for Cayman.
“We are actively encouraging shoulder season conferences and events,” he said.
According to statistics kept by the Department of Tourism, 295,469 stay-over tourists visited the Cayman Islands in the first nine months of 2015, compared with 293,652 for the same period last year, an increase of 0.6 percent.
Mr. Kirkconnell expects the end of year figures to reflect a similar year-on-year growth.
He said some slowdown had been anticipated because of lack of capacity.
New developments, starting with the opening of the Kimpton hotel on Seven Mile Beach next November, will bring new hotel beds and are expected to help increase arrivals.
At the port, cruise passenger arrival figures show a slight increase. In the first nine months of the year, 1,210,997 arrived in Cayman, compared with 1,175,115 last year.