Minister hails tourist spending increase

Cruise, air make similar contributions

On March 23, seven cruise ships brought 24,000 tourists to Grand Cayman. - Photo: Taneos Ramsay

Growing tourist numbers added almost US$90 million in direct spending to the economy between 2013 and 2015, with the contribution split almost evenly between cruise and stay-over visitors.

Delivering his budget address last week, Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said the industry is thriving.

He said the boom in visitors’ numbers led to more spending, new business opportunities, more taxi licenses and increased room-tax revenue for government.

Cruise tourism increased by 341,000 between 2013 and 2015. Air arrivals increased by 40,000 in the same two-year period.

Cruise tourists typically spend an average of $115 per day, meaning a net increase of just over $39 million from that sector.

Stay-over visitors stay, on average, just under a week and spend $183 per day, which amounts to a net spending increase of just over $50 million.

Mr. Kirkconnell said the even split in terms of economic contribution justifies the government’s dual focus on both sectors.

Though stay-over tourists contribute significantly more individually to the economy, he said high-volume cruise tourism also represents an important spending block.

“We should also remember that approximately three months of cruise travel brings roughly the same number of visitors to our shores as one year’s worth of stay-over guests,” he said.

He acknowledged that increased numbers of tourists place stress on public areas, particularly Cayman’s beaches, but said the pursuit of cruise tourism would not be at the expense of stay-over visitors.

“We are working towards achieving a balance for the two sectors to coexist with ease, to benefit all who depend on both areas for their jobs and livelihood,” he said.

Mr. Kirkconnell again defended government’s decision to pursue the construction of new cruise berthing facilities in George Town harbor. Engineers are working to find a more environmentally friendly design, while a funding model that can meet U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office approval has yet to be established.

The tourism minister said the government believes getting the project done is important to the island’s economic future.

He expects that opening of Cuba to cruise tourism will provide dual destination opportunities involving the Cayman Islands. But, he said, while cruise lines and their passengers may tolerate a lack of facilities in a new and novel destination like Cuba, they are “unlikely to accept an itinerary that includes two ports back-to-back where tenders are the only means of disembarkation.”



  1. I don’t know how Mr KirkConnell can come up with those assumptions , the cruise ship passengers spend about the same as stay over guests . The stay over visitor have at least 3 meals a day , cruise ship visitors about 1 lunch , stay over visitor take boat trip they pay 85% to the boat company, the cruise ship visitors take a boat trip about 40% go the Cayman boat company . The say over visitor spend about $250. Per night on room, cruise ship visitors spend 0 $ on accommodation . 3 out of every 1oo passengers buy something expensive over a $100.0 , stay over visitors is about 15 of every 100 .
    So the only real money that the Government see from cruise ship visitors are the Port fees , but what he want do with that revenue is get the cruise ship dock started and give that away by getting the cruise lines involved in it.
    Just to say look at what I accomplished.

  2. Unfortunately, these figures don’t exactly fit in with what’s happening in the real world where businesses are closing down and hotels are going bust. In fact at some periods during the year the hotel room rates and special offers you can find on line resemble a fire sale.

    It’s also a bit disturbing to find yet another reference to the belief that the Cayman Islands will cash in on ‘dual destination’ vacations as Cuba opens up. This time it’s relating to cruise ships rather than stay-over tourism but the principle remains the same. The fact is that Cuba welcomed over 3 millions visitors in 2015 and that figure is expected to increase by about 20% this year. Currently their largest market is in Canada, a country where the Cayman Islands has been steadily losing ground in recent years. The next key market is the UK and Europe, which (despite all the money DoT have thrown at it) barely figures in our tourism stats.

    The fact is that if the Cayman Islands were going to benefit from Cuban dual destination tourism we’d already be reaping the rewards. There’s a heck of a lot of wishful thinking going here.

  3. With respect to the Hon Minister and his tireless workers in his Ministry and the department of Tourism, I just have to wonder how much of the $115 us per cruise ship passenger stays or even comes on island.
    The bulk of ‘cruisers’ want to do Stingray City or the Turtle Farm. Both these attractions are sold as packages by the cruise lines. So for example and also by experience let’s take a look a Stingray City one stop excursion offered by the cruise lines and provided by ta local operator. Price $89us retail. Bus driver get $5us each way, boat owner $10us sometimes even $9 Cruise line $69 I’m not sure what the ‘deal’ the cruise line have with the Turke Farm but I know it’s not much better than the Stingray price.
    I would very much like to point out that it is no way the Hon Minister’s fault that the two most important tourism attractions are completely miss managed and under sold but for the boat operators of Stingray City to clearly make a profit or to just survive, they have to pack/overload their vessels several times a day with 70, 80 or 100 passengers subsequently overcrowding the Sandbar to the point that boats are lining up ready to dart into the next available space to belch out their cargo of unsepecting passengers for the 20 to 20 minute experience of feeding a ‘Ray’

    So the true figure that the cruisers really spends on island is about $25us each. Therefore a significant reduction in any increase to the millions that supposedly come onto the Cayman Islands


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