More than 1.3 million tourists arrived in the Cayman Islands by air and sea in the first six months of 2018, blitzing previous records.

The total represents a 20-percent increase on the same period last year.

The more lucrative stay-over market saw a surge in arrivals in the first half of the year with more than 250,000 tourists touching down on the islands – a 16-percent increase on last year.

The figure potentially puts Cayman on course to break the barrier of half-a-million air arrivals for the first time by the end of the year.

Ships diverted to the island from schedules in the eastern Caribbean, where the tourism industry is still recovering from the impact of hurricanes last year, helped Cayman’s cruise arrival figures tip the one-million mark in the first six months of the year. A similar performance in the second half of the year would mean an annual record for cruise arrivals.

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Department of Tourism officials say the island has welcomed a total of 215,000 more visitors than in the first part of last year. They estimate that those additional passengers have brought at least $45 million extra to the economy in spending.

Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said the island had now seen 15 consecutive months of tourism growth.

He added: “I am very pleased that tourism performance in the Cayman Islands is registering consistent growth and continues to outpace projections. By applying the right marketing strategies, vision and spirit of collaboration to drive performance, the Cayman Islands tourism industry has maintained impressive, oftentimes, double-digit increases for a sustained period.”

He suggested the traditional summer slow season, which often prompts hotels and other businesses to shut their doors for a short period, may not have the same impact this time.

“This [increase in arrivals] is helping to keep hospitality service workers employed throughout the summer and is also adding a significant boost to our Islands’ economy,” he added.

Cayman’s core market continues to be the U.S., with significant growth reported in the Midwest and Southwest regions. The period also saw an increase in the number of visitors coming from Canada.

The Department of Tourism highlighted its marketing and promotional initiatives, a partnership with Airbnb and recognition for the destination in publications like USA Today and Caribbean Journal, among the reasons for the islands’ success.

Rosa Harris, director of tourism, said: “It is extremely encouraging to see growth in visitation for the first half of the year at a speed we have not seen since 2004.”

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  1. So the official version is that this is all the result of, ‘the right marketing strategies, vision and spirit of collaboration to drive performance’?

    No mention of the fallout from last year’s Hurricane Season, which put several of our competitors out of action, or that the election of President Trump effectively put the brakes on the steady increase of US tourism to Cuba?

    No mention either of the fact that the Cayman Islands is not only failing to pick up the slack from the closure of popular diving destinations like the Sinai but is still losing ground in the UK and Europe, which has at least twice the potential market for stayover tourism sales as the USA.

    And behind all the hubris there’s another harsh reality – tourism in Cuba and many other destinations in the region is also surging ahead. Despite a nearly 50% drop off in tourism from the USA at the beginning of this year Cuba is well on the way to topping 5 million arrivals in 2018 and these are stayovers, not day trippers. Despite the on-going problems in parts of the island, tourism to Jamaica is also showing a very healthy increase and if you do a bit of work you’ll find many other destinations in the region are also doing well right now.

    I just hope that the people at DoT recognise that tourism figures work both way – they can go up and down – and also that what they are seeing here needs to treated with a bit of realistic caution because, however you spin it, it’s not all good news.

    One aspect of increasing arrivals figures is that a significant precentage of them are likely to be first-time visitors. How many of them through the chaotic conditions at ORIA and went home in a ‘never again’ frame of mind? By all means enjoy the good times that the islands are going through right now but don’t bank on it staying like that, particularly if the cruise dock gets built.

  2. I agree Mr. Williams, and this government has to make everything look as pretty as possible to keep them in power . But what I am seeing is the opposite, and should be broken up now . Because I am seeing too much going on in the government that don’t make me happy or comfortable. I think Mr Choudhury didn’t see it all .