Nearly 2.4 million visitors arrived in the Cayman Islands in 2018, the highest number recorded for a single year.
The total arrivals for 2018 in both air and cruise visitation was 2,384,058, an 11.05 percent increase over the same period in 2017. Of those, 463,001 were stayover visitors, an increase of 10.66 percent – an additional 44,598 – over 2017; and 1,921,057 were cruise ship passengers, an increase of 11.1 percent.
According to the Department of Tourism, 2018 was the first year that Cayman welcomed more than 450,000 stayover visitors in a year. In another first, more than 50,000 stayover visitors traveled to Cayman within a single month twice in 2018 – in March and December.
The tourists are estimated to have spent US$880.1 million in Cayman in 2018, an increase of 12.5 percent, or US$98.1 million, over 2017.
Deputy Premier and Minister of Tourism Moses Kirkconnell said in a release, “Through creative promotions, partnerships, and continued collaboration with our industry stakeholders, we have maintained the significant accomplishment of continuous record-breaking years.”
He added that the government has committed to investment in points of entry at the cruise port and airports. “These much-needed upgrades will benefit [our] tourism operators, businesses, visitors and residents. My focus is to ensure that all subjects in my ministry portfolio operate efficiently and effectively to support the tourism sector. These results are an excellent indicator of the work accomplished in 2018,” he said.
The Department of Tourism noted that December was the best month on record. It saw a 6.15 percent increase of stayover arrivals, with Cayman receiving more than 50,000, mainly from the North American markets.
“As with the overall statistical increase, the USA had the largest impact in December, having grown by over 2,600 additional visitors. This marks the 21st consecutive month of growth for this market, which included an increase in capacity by national flag carrier Cayman Airways from JFK in December 2018 compared to December 2017.
“Canada saw a 3.30 percent growth, making it the best December in statistical history for Canadian stayover visitation. Adding to the success of December’s record-breaking numbers, Latin America also increased by 3.32 percent and is now the best month in arrivals history for that region,” the department noted. Rosa Harris, director of tourism, said in the statement that the Department of Tourism’s goal of diversifying source markets, coupled with the ongoing development of new routes to Cayman and innovative marketing plans, has “continued to drive the record-breaking successes for the Cayman Islands and will continue in 2019.”
She said the upcoming new Denver, Colorado route, which Cayman Airways will launch in March, will act as a gateway for the West Coast of the United States, bringing “many new visitors” in 2019.