Last updated: 07:00 AM ET, Tue August 04 2015

Cayman Islands Posts Higher Half-Year Arrivals On Land And Sea

Destination & Tourism | Brian Major | August 04, 2015

Cayman Islands Posts Higher Half-Year Arrivals On Land And Sea

PHOTO: Cayman Islands posted higher land and cruise-ship visitors arrivals in the first half of 2015. (Photo courtesy of the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism). 

One year after posting a double-digit percentage increase in land-based arrivals, the Cayman Islands posted first-half 2015 arrivals totals that were only slightly ahead of 2014, based on data issued this week by Cayman Islands Department of Tourism (CIDOT).

The Cayman Islands’ 213,495 land-based arrivals in the first half of 2015 were up only 1.4 percent compared with the same period in 2014, during which the destination hosted 210,491 overnight arrivals. Overnight arrivals showed greater improvement in June, as the 32,573 visitors recorded that month represented the destination’s second-highest June visitation since 2000, said CDIOT officials.

Meanwhile cruise ship visits to the Cayman Islands during the first six months of 2015 climbed 5.5 percent to 908,881 visitors, up from 861,517 in 2014. CIDOT officials added that June cruise-ship visitors surged by 9.2 percent in June 2015 compared with the same month one year earlier.

Ironically, the higher cruise arrivals come as Cayman Islands residents debate a government proposal to build a $150 million cruise ship port. The facility’s construction has divided stakeholders into distinct groups. Opponents point to significant negative impacts the project would have on the natural environment in the harbor of George Town, the Cayman capital, where the facility would be built.

Damage from the construction, as outlined in the government’s environmental impact assessment (EIA), would include the destruction of several dive sites. Yet the EIA also predicts the new cruise port would create nearly 1,000 jobs and inject $250 million or more into the local economy over 20 years.

This year, CIDOT’s forecast “indicated a slowed growth due to capacity constraints,” said Rosa Harris, CIDOT’s director. “The Department of Tourism continues to work closely with our tourism partners through marketing and promotional efforts to flatten the seasonality,” she said.  

Harris said the destination will benefit from “the addition of new and expanded winter service from key markets in the U.S., such as Chicago, Dallas and Washington, D.C.”

“We understood heading into the shoulder season that arrival figures would be challenged,” said Moses Kirkconnell, the Cayman Islands’ minister of tourism. “Despite the minor decline for the early summer period, I am pleased the destination has maintained positive growth in arrivals for both air and cruise.”

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