Cayman Islands Reaches Major Tourism Recovery Milestone

The Cayman Islands has announced that it has reached a major milestone in efforts to rebuild stayover tourism arrivals. According to an airlift capacity report by the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism Research Unit—which tracks flights to the Cayman Islands through Q1 2023 and compares capacity to 2019—the destination gaining seats in late 2022. In all, the report revealed an increase of 1,253 seats in Q4 of this year, representing a 1 percent increase in capacity over Q4 2019, and is positive indication of tourism restoration moving towards 2023.

“The airlift capacity report is a welcome indication of recovery as we look ahead to the 2022-2023 season,” said Kenneth Bryan, minister for tourism and transport. “The PACT Government’s easing of the travel regulations has unlocked pent up demand; however, we cannot become complacent. Our focus is to drive growth from the markets where it will have the most positive impact. While we celebrate a net increase in available seats for Q4 2022, we must also continue to strive for opportunities to increase the number of flights, operating airlines and gateway cities.”

The net growth in seats is driven in part by increased American Airlines connections through Charlotte and Miami; Southwest’s strong feeder markets in Texas; United’s growth in Washington D.C. and Newark; and a new non-stop route from Baltimore-Washington. That said, many secondary markets with less frequent service, such as Philadelphia and Boston are pacing behind 2019 capacities, while Delta is still in a rebuilding phase with its connections through Atlanta. The report also shows signs of longer-term growth in Q1 2023, with Dallas and Houston showing year-over-year growth of 5 percent and 40 percent, respectively.

Cayman Airways is one of the destination’s most important advantages in mitigating any loss in capacity from U.S. carriers. The national flag carrier’s new non-stop route to Los Angeles accounts for 1,280 seats in Q4 2022 and could have a disproportionate positive impact in growing arrivals from southern California, through increased awareness and focused marketing and sales activity.

“Airlift is the oxygen of our islands’ tourism industry, and our global team has been working hard, engaging with the airlines to restore routes and seats,” said Rosa Harris, director of the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism. “A spirit of teamwork between the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, Cayman Airways, Cayman Border Control, the Cayman Islands Airport Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority, coupled with cooperation with the private sector is the key to our success. As we continue to collaborate in rebuilding our stayover arrivals and welcoming visitors back to our beautiful shores, further increasing the Cayman Islands’ airlift remains a top priority.”

In Q1 2023, seats from New York are reported as trailing Q1 2019 by 8 percent. The tri-state area has traditionally been leading source market when temperatures are coldest and demand and accommodations rates, and subsequently tax revenue and on island visitor spending, are highest.

“Year-over-year growth from the New York market is always a priority," added Harris. “Instilling confidence amongst the airlines and sharing booking pace and demand indicators as contextual data in partnership with our accommodations sector will help the Cayman Islands extend our momentum.”

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