Although the Cayman Islands were one of the last Caribbean destinations to fully open to visitors, tourism officials are optimistic about a steady increase in post-pandemic tourism.
Given that cruise ships returned to this British overseas territory, in March and travel restrictions were not lifted until late August last year, the islands still welcomed 1,027,668 visitors in 2022 (743,394 cruise passengers and 284,274 overnight visitors), exceeding targets set by the government for both groups of arrivals.
'Confidence in the destination due to our measured and gradual approach to reopening after the COVID-19 blockade led to pent-up demand that accelerated our visitor volume once all travel restrictions were lifted,' said Rosa Harris, the island's experienced tourism expert.
She explained that quality accommodations and attractions, retail offerings and restaurants, as well as vibrant events, including the Capella Music Festival, the Cayman Islands Marathon, meetings and incentive groups, continue to draw visitors to the destination.
Regional and international tourism stakeholders, as well as members of the media, experienced the quality of the Cayman Islands' tourism product and the strength of its recovery when Cayman hosted the Caribbean Tourism Organization, CTO, business meetings as well as IATA's Caribbean Aviation Day last September.
The recently reported figures surpassed Cayman's goal of 200,000 overnight visitors in 2022, as well as its target of 40 percent of tourism tax revenue in 2019.
Notably, visitation during the last quarter of 2022 averaged 89 percent of 2019 arrivals and for the entire calendar year, the Cayman Islands recaptured 57 percent of 2019 business.
While the United States accounted for more than 80 percent of all overnight visitors, the United Kingdom and Ireland rebounded the fastest, reaching 77 percent of the 2019 level of visitation. Canada and Latin American countries followed them.
By 2023, the destination has set an overall visitation target of 70 percent of 2019 figures, and Minister of Tourism and Transport Kenneth Bryan is confident the territory will achieve this goal.
'We anticipate 2023 to be a momentous year for Cayman Islands tourism with a full calendar year of visitors that will allow us to re-establish our seasonality aligned with new travel expectations post-pandemic,' he commented.