The Cayman Islands is targetting UK and Irish visitors as it looks to build on a successful year that saw its tourism numbers rebound.
The Caribbean destination was back with its own stand at World Travel Market earlier this month for the first time in several years, to “reengage and reconnect” with one of its most important source markets, said Rosa Harris, Director of the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism.
Speaking from a specially chartered historic sailing vessel (pictured), chosen to represent Cayman’s maritime history, that transported the trade and media to the first day of the show at Excel, she said: “We will be working very closely with our UK and Irish industry partners and participating in events and trainings to enhance trade engagement.
“We are investing more in the UK and Ireland. These are very important markets for us… and not just because we are a British Overseas Territory. The UK has been the second fastest-growing market for us after our borders reopened in 2022. The numbers from here for 2024 are already looking exceedingly good.”
Harris said the destination is “on track” to surpass its goal of reaching more than 70% of 2019 pre-pandemic levels.
Air arrivals for the period January- August 2023 matched those in the Cayman islands’ biggest year, during which it welcomed 14,583 UK travellers. For the first eight months of this year UK arrivals numbered 8,597, with healthy bookings for the busy winter season.
The three-island destination’ – Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac – is looking forward to a wave of new openings over the next two years.
Due to open before the end of this year, VIDA Cayman is a eco-sustainable tourism development focused on wellness and adventure located 20 minutes from Owen Roberts International Airport.
On track to open next summer is the eco-friendly Hotel Indigo Grand Cayman, a 282-room beachfront property with several restaurants, a pool deck and a rooftop bar. The hotel is being built to LEED standards, which ensures high-performance buildings that have less of an impact on the environment.
Coming soon to downtown Georgetown is Kailani, a Curio Collection by Hilton hotel, an 80-suite waterfront-facing property. Guests will be able to sign up for wellness programmes at the spa and culinary options that use produce from the hotel’s 60-acre farm, which is also located on Grand Cayman.
In 2025, two new properties will make their debut: Mandarin Oriental Grand Cayman, on the coast of St. James Point in Bodden Town, and Grand Hyatt Grand Cayman Hotel and Residences. The Grand Hyatt will be the only other five-star international hotel brand in Cayman after The Ritz-Carlton, which opened in 2005.
Also scheduled for a 2025 opening is the 177-unit One/GT, a boutique hotel that will feature a cafe, a signature restaurant and a luxury rooftop venue Sky Club.
Key events on the island next year include Cayman Cookout (January 9-15), a celebration of the destination’s food scene featuring island chefs and cooking and mixology demonstrations along Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Art Week (May 22-26), a week-long curated programme of gallery tours and open studios around the Cayman Islands and, in November, Pirates Fest, featuring a mock-pirate ‘invasion’, music, street dancing, competitions, local food and drink, children’s day, sea swims and firework displays.
Added Harris: “Tourism is a major pillar of the Cayman Islands’ economy and with world class diving and dining, we have expansive experiences to offer all types of holidaymakers.”
British Airways flies from London-Heathrow to the Cayman islands. In 2023 the airline introduced a fifth weekly direct flight to the destination, with flights operating on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Agents can complete the revamped Cayman Islands Training course at caymanislands-training.co.uk