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Air arrivals lift tourism numbers into rarefied air

The numbers are in, and tourism officials are celebrating record-breaking combined air and cruise visitor totals. Strong air arrivals numbers led the charge into Cayman’s tourism record books.

Last month, Deputy Premier and Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said he was confident 2017’s air arrivals would break the 400,000 barrier for the first time. Talk about ending the year on a hot streak: December’s 49,000 air arrivals was the 7th straight month of record-breaking stayover visitors, and the minister’s confidence was rewarded.

In total: more than 418,000 touched down to claim their slice of Caymankind. That was up 8.5% from the year before. Mr. Kirkconnell said that translates into a big-time economic benefit.

“Stayover visitors represented $430 million in 2016, the provisional estimate of stayover visitor spending in 2017 was $485 million, an increase of 12.7%,” said Mr. Kirkconnell.

If you’re keeping score at home, that’s $55 million more in 2017 than the year before. He said projections are calling for a 5% increase in stayover visitors in 2018 as well.

On the cruise side, numbers remained relatively flat.  With 1.72 million passengers, Cayman’s cruise numbers are right in line with the totals from the previous two years (around 1.71 million each year.)

Mr. Kirkconnelll told Cayman 27 we saw a slight end of year uptick due in part to cruise reroutes caused by hurricanes in other parts of the Caribbean.

He said he expects cruise numbers to remain flat until a new cruise berthing facility is complete. He expects it to be ready in 2023.

About the author

Joe Avary

Joe Avary

Joe Avary has been with Cayman 27 since 2014. He brings 20 years in television experience to the job, working hard every day to bring the people of Cayman stories that inform the public and make a difference in the community. Joe hopes his love for the Cayman Islands shines through in his informative and entertaining weather reports. If you have a story idea for Joe or just want to say hello, call him at 324-2141 or send an email to

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