GRAND CAYMAN — The Cayman Islands ended the decade on a high note, with record-breaking air arrivals and steady growth in airlift and accommodations.
For the calendar year 2019, air arrivals reached 502,739, representing an 8.6% increase over the same period in 2018. This marks the highest number of stayover visits in the destination’s recorded history, and its tenth consecutive year of annual growth in stayover visitation.
Overall, the top source markets saw impressive growth, including the United States (33,293 more visitors than 2018), Canada (3,525 more visitors than 2018), and the United Kingdom (829 more visitors than 2018).
According to statistics provided by Cayman Airways, Cayman Brac arrivals (including both visitors and residents) were up 7%, approximately 4,350 more passengers in 2019 compared to 2018, for a record total of 62,911 passengers in 2019. Little Cayman also saw a new record in arrivals, with 30,537 passengers recorded, the most it has ever seen.
In addition, for the first time in Cayman’s history, three months in one calendar year peaked at over 50,000 stayover guests visiting our shores (March, July, and December 2019). Overall, except for September 2019, the country broke previous arrival records for 11 months out of 12.
Reflecting on the positive impact that this growth in stayover arrivals has created, Minister of Tourism Moses Kirkconnell said: “A few years ago, my government and I challenged the Department of Tourism and our stakeholders to reach new markets and create growth opportunities for our tourism sector. The numbers speak for themselves – over 502,000 people chose our home, a humble three island trio with so much to offer – to make their dreams a reality by coming to the Cayman Islands. The Department of Tourism rose to that challenge through a variety of tactical and creative means, and we all should be proud of this amazing outcome.”
Much of the destination’s growth can be attributed to increased airlift, said Rosa Harris, Director, Cayman Islands Department of Tourism.
“Airlift is our oxygen. My team and I invest significant effort to maintain and grow strong aviation partnerships to ensure that airline capacity and flight frequency throughout the year are maintained and increased wherever possible. This ever-increasing ease in accessibility for our visitors, paired with the exceptional Cayman-kind service and experience unique to our country, enable us to grow the business and set visitation records,” she said.
Notable airline announcements in 2019 paved the way for a successful year and set the stage of increased accessibility for visitors in 2020. These include Sunwing’s upcoming service launch from Toronto in February 2020, as well as increased frequency from both WestJet and Air Canada this year.