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Stay-Over Visitors In Spending Bonanza

GEORGE TOWN, Grand Cayman (CNS) -- Overnight visitors to the Cayman Islands fell by 1.4% in the first half of 2016 when compared to the year before but the slight drop in numbers on 2015, which was a record-breaking year for tourism, is not having an adverse effect on the bottom line.

Tourism officials said that visitors are spending more than they ever have, so government is collecting more taxes and local businesses are earning more income. Government collected over 2% more in tourism fees and guests were spending around $180 per person every night during an average six-day stay.

“Even though there was a decline in numbers, we saw a more, high quality guests visiting our shores,” tourism officials said this week as they published a new detailed statistical report for the first half of this year on the local tourism product.

The report is based on figures collected from the Department of Tourism’s exit surveys and immigration records. It points to an overall growth in tourism of over 5%, since cruise arrivals were up 7%.

The department was also pleased about the growth in expenditure by guests. Across the last 12 months visitors to Cayman spent well-over half a billion dollars in the local economy. Attracting wealthy guests, over a third of visitors to Cayman were from households with a combined income of more than $200,000 per year.

The statistics show that most people coming to the islands on vacation seem to have a great time and the only areas that leave room for officials to be concerned about in the opinion surveys isare value for money and shopping. More than 30% of guests said shopping in Cayman was only fair or even poor, and only 33% of visitors felt Cayman offered very good value for money.

The overall experience, however, was rated as very good by almost 90% of the people visiting the Cayman Islands and over 83% also described the local customer service as very good and 14% good. Almost three-quarters of guests rated local restaurants as very good and over 88% of visitors loved the beach. The importance of visitors’ experiences in the ocean as well as on the beach was also highlighted as the water experiences all scored higher than attractions.

Less than 65% of visitor rated local attractions as very good, while over 81% said the watersports and nearly 80% said the underwater experiences were very good.

The DoT has been embarking on aggressive marketing campaigns, and the slight decline in overnight guest numbers appears to be related to concerns about Zika, which is impacting the whole region.

At a meeting with the press Wednesday to update the media about the tourism sector, Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell spoke about the importance of keeping pace with the infrastructure to ensure that the tourism product had the room it needed to grow further. From the redevelopment of the airport to proposed hotel projects, Kirkconnell said these were needed as the island was currently almost at capacity when it came to overnight guests.

But with an increase in the spend of tourists, the minister lauded the work of the DoT and said that he would be sticking with the current tourism policies as they are working.