Tourism on Cayman Brac has been on the rise in recent years, with the number of visitors there having increased by about 12 percent from 2015 to 2017.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Tourism, the number of visitors was 9,013 in 2015, 9,712 in 2016, and 10,261 last year. Those stats reflect the number of visitors that mark Cayman Brac as their main destination, and does not include Grand Cayman visitors that travel to the Sister Islands during their stay, the ministry noted.

The tourism boost has continued into this year, according to the Ministry of Tourism, with forward bookings for January through September being 11.35 percent higher than the same period in 2017.

The Ministry of Tourism attributed part of the increased Brac arrivals to the island’s improved airlift, including the expanded Charles Kirkconnell International Airport and Cayman Airways’ utilization of the Saab 340B+, which allows the airline to offer more seats.

“Events and sports tournaments hosted in Cayman Brac have been strategically positioned to fit between May and September to bring benefit to businesses in the Sister Islands,” the ministry added.

The average length of stay has remained consistent over the last five-plus years: 7.5 days in 2013, 7.7 days in 2014, 7.7 days in 2015, 7.6 days in 2016 and 7.6 days in 2017, according to the ministry.

The increase in visitors comes despite the fact that some of the Brac’s hotels have taken a hit over the last 12 years, with the Divi Tiara Beach Resort closing in 2006 and the Alexander Hotel closing 2014. The Ministry of Tourism attributed this fact to the proliferation of companies such as Airbnb, which allow home- and condo-owners to rent out their places.

“Airbnb is growing in popularity and offers residents an opportunity to actively participate in, and benefit from, the tourism industry’s growth,” the ministry stated.

Diving continues to be a major attraction for the Brac, with 39.8 percent of visitors stating that the activity is their main purpose for visiting the island – 54 percent of visitors go there for “recreation/pleasure,” 3.4 percent for visiting relatives, 1.4 percent for business, and 1.4 percent for “other.”

The increase in Brac tourism reflects the territory’s overall boost, with 418,403 visitors touching down at the Owen Roberts International Airport last year. That represents an 8.5 percent increase on 2016 and 54 percent growth since 2009.

Overall, a record 2.1 million tourists arrived in Cayman in 2017.