Brac air arrivals jump 20%

| 03/08/2015 | 0 Comments
Cayman News Service

Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia on Cayman Brac (Photo by James Tibbetts)

(CNS Business): Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell cites upgrades to the airport on Cayman Brac as a key factor in a 20% increase of tourists to the island in the first half of this year compared to 2014, as well as the introduction of a 30-seater jet aircraft by Cayman Airways. And he said the increase in tourism is good news for the Brac Reef Resort, currently the only hotel on the island.

“A strong and growing tourism industry gives business owners confidence to further invest in their businesses, which in turn improves the tourism product offered to visitors. The Brac Reef Resort, for example, is currently renovating the entire property. Enhancements include upgrading of all the guest rooms and a new freeform swimming pool is being installed,” he said.

Kirkconnell, whose portfolio also includes responsibility for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, said Cayman Airways is also being used more strategically to further generate these increase in the numbers. In October 2014, the airline wet leased a 30-seat Embraer 120 aircraft for the Brac-Grand Cayman route, though it still retained the smaller 15-seat Twin Otters, which are ideal for the short airstrip on Little Cayman.

“Markedly increasing capacity into the Sister Islands means more available seats, resulting in higher numbers of visitors and residents taking the opportunity to visit. This again is the outcome we expected,” Kirkconnell told CNS Business.

Deputy Premier Kirkconnell noted that part of the strategy for increasing tourism to the Brac was expanding the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport, which was completed in February of this year.  As a result, he said, operational efficiency has been improved, direct flights to the US can be serviced, and a much higher volume of passengers can be handled comfortably.

 

“I am extremely pleased by the impressive double digit increase in air arrivals to Cayman Brac, which provide confirmation that the strategies being implemented by the Cayman Islands government are having a direct and positive impact on the Sister Islands economy,” Kirkconnell said.

Noting that Cayman Brac relies heavily on tourism, he said, “The Ministry of Tourism’s approach has been to focus on initiatives that would not only increase arrivals, but would keep much-needed tourism dollars circulating, while providing benefit to local businesses and residents.”

For the Cayman Islands as a whole, air arrivals remained steady when comparing this year’s first and second quarter results to the same period in 2014, with just a slight increase of 1.43%. Although figures were down 6% in May and 4.5% in June, overall the first half of 2015 has seen an increase more than 3,000 stay-over visitors due to the high numbers earlier in the year.

So far, there have been 213,495 air arrivals compared to 210,491 for the same six months of 2014.

Cruise numbers, however, are up again, with June 2015 figures being the second highest visitation rate for the month since 2000, with 32,573 stay-over visitors, with the highest in 15 years being June 2014.

Cruise arrivals for the Cayman Islands have shown a marked increase of 9.21% for the month of June 2015.  The total numbers of cruise visitors in the month of June were 94,511.  Year over year statistics reveal that cruise visitation for the first six months equalled 908,881, a 5.50% increase over the 861,517 visitors in for the same period in 2014.

“We understood heading into the shoulder season that arrival figures would be challenged,” Kirkconnell admitted. “Despite the minor decline for the early summer period, I am pleased the destination has maintained positive growth in arrivals for both air and cruise.”

Director of Tourism, Rosa Harris added, “My department’s 2015 forecast indicated a slowed growth due to capacity constraints. The Department of Tourism continues to work very closely with our tourism partners through marketing and promotional efforts to flatten the seasonality of tourism. We are encouraged by the continued confidence demonstrated by airline partners through the addition of new and expanded winter service from key markets in the US, such as Chicago, Dallas and Washington, DC.”

 

 

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Category: Cruise Tourism, Stay-over tourism, Tourism

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