Cayman did not simply break its previous record for airplane arrivals in the first quarter of this year – it shattered them, putting us on pace for a fifth straight record-breaking year.
As the Compass reports in today’s newspaper, air arrivals from January through March leaped to 134,170 visitors. That is 20 percent over the same quarter in 2017 – a figure that must be particularly pleasing to our islands’ hoteliers, who are reporting occupancy rates of 80-90 percent capacity, with no slowdown in sight.
The direct impact to our economy is undeniable; a Department of Tourism analysis estimated the collective spending of stay-over tourists last year to be around $485 million – money that directly benefits our tourist and hospitality sector, and each of us through secondary spending and funding of government services.
For “indirect beneficiaries” outside the hospitality industry, it can be easy to dwell on minor irritants. But one need only imagine the alternative – empty streets, empty hotel rooms and empty pockets – to regain perspective.
No matter our profession, we all can help make guests’ visits memorable – and worthy of an encore. A friendly smile, a helpful set of directions, a clean and inviting streetscape (and – crossing our fingers – a safe cab ride at a fair rate) all help create an image of Cayman that we can be proud to share with the world.
Cayman’s record-breaking tourism figures may have been helped, in part, by other Caribbean islands’ misfortune, as visitors have rerouted trips from hurricane-affected destinations.
But we expect that once they have availed themselves of Cayman’s beautiful beaches, exquisite culinary offerings and warm hospitality, many of today’s new visitors will become familiar faces in years to come.