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PHOTOS BY RICARDO MAKYN Filipino tourists enjoy the Taste of Cayman Food and Drink Festival 2018, celebrating its 30th anniversary in Grand Cayman in January.

2018 off to a record-breaking start for arrivals into the Cayman Islands

Following 2017's record-breaking year for air and cruise arrivals into the Cayman Islands, arrivals for 2018 are off to a record-breaking start. A total of 39,185 stayover visitors were recorded for the month of January, an increase of 23.87 per cent over 2017. This represents the best January in recorded arrivals history and is the eighth consecutive month (June 2017 through January 2018) that the Cayman Islands have had record-breaking growth.

The 23.87 per cent growth is the highest per cent growth increase for a January in 12 years and is 13.9 per cent higher than January 2015, the previous highest January in recorded history.

January figures can be attributed to growth predominantly in key markets such as the United States, which saw increases in all regions. Of significant note, the West Coast saw the highest growth, recording a 63 per cent increase over 2017. The Southwest recorded 1,270 additional stayover visitors, or 46.98 per cent increase over 2017, while the Midwest region recorded 1,770 additional stayover visitors, or 27.40 per cent increase over 2017. Canada also recorded growth of 13.47 per cent growth over January 2017. This represents the best January in recorded history for Canada with a total of 3,353 stayover visitors. Efforts to tap into the Latin American market continue to be fruitful as both South America and Central America increased by 25 and 35 per cent, respectively. A total of 218,430 cruise passengers visited the Cayman Islands in January, an increase of 20 per cent over January 2017.

Sustained growth is expected in the coming months as residents and guests alike prepare to celebrate the island's colourful and spirited national carnival, Batabano, as well as CayMas and Braccanal. The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism has launched its 'Summer Only in Cayman' promotion, which this year seeks to leverage Cayman's position as the culinary capital of the Caribbean.

The promotion invites families to savour the endless array of cuisines available on-island by an impressive roster of local chefs and includes curated epicurean experiences for even the youngest of authentic culinary seekers. With accommodation partners offering a fourth-night free stay, the Department of Tourism says it is poised to support this robust promotion through strategic, multi-media marketing across the United States.

"Continued increases in visitation are evidence that the state of our tourism industry is strong," commented Deputy Premier and Minister for Tourism Moses Kirkconnell. "I am optimistic that if we continue this path, 2018 will be another record-breaking year for arrivals and that the Cayman Islands will benefit from economic growth that all can be proud of. I applaud the Department of Tourism and all tourism partners for their continued contributions to this vibrant industry." 

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