Deputy Premier and Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell has dubbed 2016 the country’s best year ever for tourism arrivals. He hopes to parlay that success into a strong 2017.
“2017 looks really strong with forward bookings, and we are looking forward to it,” said Mr. Kirkconnell.
He told Cayman 27 that 2017 is poised to build on the big numbers of 2016.
Department of Tourism statistics through October show more than 315,000 air arrivals and 1.36 million cruise visitors have enjoyed their moment of Cayman-kindness so far this year.
If we extrapolate using a three-year-average for November and December, the country is right on track to match and possibly exceed 2015’s tally of two-point-one million total visitors.
“When there’s no ships in, it’s like a ghost town, you know. But when the ships are in, everyone is making money,” said coconut vendor Ian Duffell.
He chopped into profits to the delight of visiting tourists on a busy day in front of the Hell post office.
Meanwhile, sources in the retail industry told Cayman 27 2016’s sales are showing signs of life after a slow summer. Mr. Kirkconnell attributed these effects to events abroad.
“If you think of what’s happened in Europe with Brexit,” explained Mr. Kirkconnell. “If you think of what’s happening in the United States with an election that’s finished a cycle; the people that were traveling were kind of holding on to see what would happen before they made a big dollar purchase.”
While it’s possible a red hot US stock market will fuel a year of big spending from Cayman’s core market, Mr. Kirkconnell said his focus remains making sure Caymanians get to taste the fruits of the country’s tourism success.
“We are extremely pleased with the success we’ve had with that, but the challenge we have is to take that success and make sure the Caymanian people share in it,” said Mr. Kirkconnell.
He said the hospitality studies programme at UCCI and scholarship partnerships with universities abroad help young Caymanians compete for the new jobs that come with growth.
Mr. Kirkconnell said the Kimpton Seafire and the soon to open Margaritaville hotel will boost the island’s room stock, which he said will translate into more job opportunities.