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.
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.”