The Cayman Islands ended the decade with record-breaking air arrivals, highlighting another year of steady growth in airlift and accommodations. For the calendar year 2019, air arrivals reached 502,739, an 8.6 percent increase over the same period in 2018—or 39,738 additional persons. This is the highest number of stayover visits in recorded history (surpassing 2018), and it's the 10th consecutive year of growth in stayover visitation.
Overall, the top source markets for stayover arrivals were the United States (33,293 more visitors than 2018), Canada (3,525 more visitors), and the United Kingdom (829 more visitors).
According to statistics provided by Cayman Airways, Cayman Brac arrivals—which includes both visitors and residents—were up seven percent, approximately 4,350 more passengers in 2019 as compared to 2018 and totaled 62,911 passengers in 2019—a new record for this route. For Little Cayman, there was also a new record in arrivals of visitors and residents, with 30,537 passengers – the most arrivals ever.
The significant growth in visitation for all three islands maintained an upward trajectory over the past five years. In 2015, the destination welcomed 385,378 stayover visitors, and in 2019 there were 502,739, which equates to growth of 30.5 percent. For the first time in Cayman’s history, three months in one calendar year peaked at over 50,000 stayover guests visiting the destination (March, July, and December). Except for September, the country broke previous arrival records each month in 2019.
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:
- National flag carrier Cayman Airways returned to Denver in December 2019 through August 2020 with twice weekly service
- American Airlines announced additional seasonal service from Boston and new service from JFK in 2020
- Sunwing announced the launch of service into the Cayman Islands from Toronto for February 2020
- British Airways introduced an extra flight on Tuesdays
- United Airlines transitioned their Newark route to daily service from December 2019 through April 2020
- Southwest added Baltimore seasonally, which launched in June 2019, and increased frequency in 2020
- Southwest moved their Houston service to start in March instead of late spring 2020, and the service will progress to daily as of June 2020
- WestJet and Air Canada increased frequency for 2020
In addition, the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism (CIDOT) has added Kari Dehn to its U.S. National Sales team. She will lead efforts in the New York office to execute group sales for leisure and meetings, incentive, conferences and exhibition (M.I.C.E.) travel groups visiting the Cayman Islands. Rosa Harris, director of the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, says the decision to hire Dehn is in direct correlation with the Department of Tourism’s goal of expanding consideration and bookings among MICE and leisure group traveler.