GRAND CAYMAN — The Cayman Islands has surpassed its projections for visitor arrivals in 2022, with figures for both cruise and stayover visitation exceeding goals set by the Cayman Islands Government.
Last year, the destination welcomed 1,027,668 visitors, with 743,394 cruise passengers and 284,274 stayover visitors. This far exceeded the goal of 200,000 stayover visitors, which was set by the Department of Tourism to achieve the Ministry of Tourism’s goal of 40% of 2019 tourism tax revenue, as well as a stretch goal of 256,000 visitors.
The year saw a slow start in January with just 5,864 stayover visitors, but this rapidly increased month-on-month over the first half of the year, due in large part to the government’s phased approach to reopening the country by easing travel restrictions.
All travel restrictions were lifted at the end of August resulting in soaring air arrivals. Visitation during the last quarter of 2022 averaged 89% of 2019’s numbers, and for the full year (January through December), the Cayman Islands recorded 57% of 2019’s visitation numbers. At the end of 2022, stayover visitation exceeded the Department’s stretch goal by 11%.
“Confidence in the destination due to our measured and phased approach to reopening post the COVID-19 lockdown led to pent up demand which accelerated our visitation volume once all travel restrictions were dropped,” said Rosa Harris, Director of Tourism. “The quality of our accommodations and attractions, retail offerings and restaurants as well as a vibrant events calendar, including such notable events as the Capella Music Festival, the Cayman Islands marathon and meetings and incentives groups continue to drive visitors to the destination.”
Though the United States accounted for 80.8% of all stayover visitors, UK and Ireland was the fastest recovering market in 2022 reaching 77% of 2019’s visitation level. This was followed by Canada at 66% of 2019’s level with Canada recording growth over 2019’s numbers in July, October and December 2022. Latin America was the third fastest recovering market reaching 60% of 2019’s visitation.
Repeat visitors to the islands represented 46.7% compared to 44.4% in 2019. Additionally, the average length of stay for visitors increased from 5.9 nights in 2019 to 7.6 nights in 2022. Based on data from STR Inc., which provides data on the global hotel industry, the average daily rate for hotels in the destination increased by 12% over 2019.
Cruise ships returned to the Cayman Islands in March 2022, and by December 2022 the destination welcomed 743,394 cruise passengers on 261 ships.
“Cruise tourism is the epicentre of Caymanian entrepreneurship representing a higher percentage of local business owners than any other aspect of tourism and is a vital part of our tourism offering.” said Kenneth Bryan, Minister of Tourism and Transport. “We were pleased with the number of cruise visitors in 2022 and will continue to actively manage the volume of cruise both in terms of the quality of ships in port and the number of passengers who embark on our shores. We look forward to bringing cruise tourism back in a measured and sustainable way in 2023.”
The destination has set an overall visitation goal of 70% of 2019’s numbers and Minister Bryan is confident that the Cayman Islands will achieve this goal.
“We anticipate that 2023 will be a momentous year for tourism with a full calendar year of visitors to allow us to reset our seasonality aligned with new expectations for travel post-pandemic,” said Minister Bryan. “Our accommodation, restaurant and retail partners are primed to welcome guests, and we will continue strategic discussions with our airline partners to offer increased airlift to the destination to ensure a steady stream of visitors. We also look forward to working with or partners in cruise to further enhance and deliver an authentic destination experience.”
For more information and detailed arrival statistics, please visit ourcayman.ky.