Record-breaking arrivals for 2017 in both air and cruise visitation represent the best year of recorded statistical data for the Cayman Islands.
A total of 418,403 stayover visitors, an increase of 8.55 percent over 2016 and 1,728,444 cruisers visited the islands. Overall annual performance in 2017, marked visitation from the United States and Canada with growth rates of 13.44 per cent and 6.37 per cent respectively.
For the seventh consecutive month (June through Dec.), air arrivals surpassed all previously recorded statistics. A total of 49,003 stayover visitors arrived in December, an increase of 21.61 percent over December 2016; and an increase of 20.8 percent over Dec. 2014, which was standing as the best ranked December in recorded history.
December increases were fuelled by growth predominantly in North America. Key markets such as the United States and Canada, which saw increases of 27.43 per cent and 22.71 per cent respectively over 2016; represented the highest standout growth.
Commenting on this achievement, deputy premier and Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Moses Kirkconnell said, “The performance of the country’s tourism sector and all who played a role in attracting more visitors to the destination should be extraordinarily proud of their efforts. It is the mandate of the Ministry of Tourism to facilitate annual growth in visitation; however, it is a collective effort that makes it a success. I encourage all of us in the tourism industry and its auxiliary partners to use this accomplishment as a springboard for even greater success in 2018.”
Reflecting on a successful year in 2017, the Department of Tourism (DOT) executed a visually arresting and diversified marketing plan to increase brand awareness globally. The year saw the implementation of key initiatives such as the “Worry Free Hurricane Guarantee.” Launched on 1 June, the guarantee gave travellers peace of mind during one of the most active hurricane seasons for the Caribbean region to date.
“Through strategic marketing initiatives from the Department of Tourism and strong, cohesive relationships with our tourism partners, together we have been able to achieve unprecedented growth in arrivals to the Cayman Islands in 2017,” said director of tourism, Rosa Harris. “I am pleased to see that our efforts to diversify the Cayman Islands source markets such as Canada coupled with our global teams’ drive to be fearless innovators in destination marketing have taken visitation volume to its highest levels the destination has experienced. I look forward to working with my team and our tourism community to continue to attract quality visitors and offer an enriched experience with the goal of providing value through annual growth in 2018.”
Looking ahead to 2018, the Cayman Islands views aviation as a catalyst for driving Canadian and overall international visitation. On Dec. 15, 2017, Air Canada began servicing the destination with six non-stop flights per week through Apr. 2, 2018.
“The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism and our island partners in Grand Cayman are absolutely delighted with the expanded service and the impact this has had and will continue to have on driving tourism to the destination,” said Raymond Mathias, BDM for the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism. This added lift will boost both leisure and business travel to the destination as we continue to build on the growth we’ve already seen in 2017.”
“With increased seats available, travellers have more opportunities to select their preferred airline itinerary," Harris said. "The Cayman Islands will offer over 10 non-stop flight options, this is an excellent opening to 2018 for all stakeholders in the Cayman Islands tourism industry.”