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Tourists boost air arrivals

Tourists boost air arrivals

Tourist air arrivals in April were the highest in seven years and continued an eight-month trend of surpassing the same month the previous year.

» Tourism | Monday, June 6, 2011 • Air News Times
A total of 30,824 tourist arrived by air during the month, up more than 12 per cent over last April and the highest since 33,903 passengers arrived by air in April 2004.


Hoteliers were happy with their April occupancy.


“It was a strong month all around,” said Melissa Ladley of The Ritz-Carlton, 
Grand Cayman.


“The late Easter helped stretch the high season into four months as did the late spring breaks in Virginia and Washington DC.” In
addition, arrivals from Canada almost doubled from 2010, Ms Ladley said.


Laura Skec, senior sales manager at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, also said the late Easter help make April a fantastic month. She pointed to the increase in Canadian tourists as a major factor.


“The Canadian market is booming,” she said. “We have seen an increase of 35 per cent against last year in the year-to-date. April is the month with the highest increase. The interest in Cayman is growing and the WestJet service has ignited this trend.” T


The Northeast continues to be Cayman’s best US market, but there is growth from other areas of the country as well.


“New York continues to be the main source from US travellers, together with the Philadelphia area,” she said. “Dallas and Houston continue to be a steady source also, increasing year over year.”


Looking ahead

Although summer bookings are looking softer than the winter and spring months - as they do every year - they are better than 2010.


Ms Ladley said summer reservations were pacing slightly ahead this year compared to last year, but other hotels were seeing even stronger bookings.


Paul Robinson, managing director of The Reef, said summer was looking strong, which seemed due to pent-up demand in the 
United States.


“At the Reef, we are seeing a substantial strengthening of occupancy for June, July and August,” he said, adding that the sinking of the Kittiwake and the targeting of the dive market by the Department of Tourism had boosted the destination, including East End, 
for that market.


However, Mr. Robinson still sees room for improvement.  


“The US economy needs to strengthen to really push occupancies back to the good old days.”


Alain Beiner of Turtle Nest Inn said June looked solid and July and August were shaping up positively in a direct comparison to last year.


He noted that while the booking window remained relatively shortened, the hotel was now taking more bookings a year in advance than ever before.


“We have never booked as many stays for May one year in advance,” he said. “Prospective visitors seem to be unsure of cash immediately available, so hesitant to commit to an offshore vacation now. However, they appear much more confident of having the cash available for a vacation next year.”


Trina Christian of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association echoed the hoteliers’ pleasure at April’s numbers and said all eyes are now on the summer. She said the hurricane season is one factor that could affect summer tourism.


“It’s not about whether you get hit by a hurricane, but if there are serious storm warnings,” she said. “Then, because of the publicity, it does have a negative impact. We knock on wood and hope it does not happen, but it is a reality.  


“If we are clear of any serious warnings, then we are in good shape and  we are certainly hopeful that we will have a strong summer.” 
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