Cayman Airways is responsible for the transport of 43 percent of visitors to the islands. // © 2016 Cayman Islands Department of Tourism
Feature image (above): Visitors from the U.S. accounted for approximately 75 percent of the 385,379 total air arrivals to the islands in 2015. // © 2016 Cayman Islands Department of Tourism
Cayman Airways will modernize its state-owned fleet of planes as part of an overarching strategic plan aimed at increasing visitation to the Cayman Islands.
The islands’ national carrier will add one Boeing 737-800 plane to the fleet by November and then gradually introduce four brand-new Boeing 737-8 Max aircraft between 2018 and 2020.
The modernized fleet will feature 40 additional seats on each plane and superior fuel efficiency, enabling the airline to develop new routes in North America and gateways south of the Cayman Islands.
“Cayman Airways will now have the range to be able to reach any part of the U.S. and most of Canada with a significant growth in capacity, poising the airline to increase the $200 million economic contribution to the local economy annually,” said Moses Kirkconnell, deputy premier and minister of tourism for the Cayman Islands. “This strategic decision will also coincide with the 20 percent growth in room stock for our destination in the next three years.”
Notable resort development projects underway or near completion include the 266-room Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, set to open in the fall; a 200-room hotel at Health City Cayman Islands, a world-class medical and surgical facility; and a 200-room hotel on Beach Bay in Grand Cayman's Bodden Town district, expected to begin construction later this year. The islands currently offer approximately 5,449 hotel rooms.
Additionally, the fleet’s modernization coincides with several other travel and tourism infrastructure projects. Last October, Alden McLaughlin, premier (head of government) for the Cayman Islands, announced the government's plan to build a $150 million cruise ship pier and passenger terminal. Meanwhile, the $55 million renovation of Owen Roberts International Airport remains ongoing. By the time the airport's upgrades are completed, it will be able to accommodate 2.5 million annual visitors, a dramatic increase from its current capacity of 1 million travelers per year.
Cayman Airways currently transports 43 percent of all visitors traveling to and from the Cayman Islands. Last year, U.S. travelers accounted for approximately 75 percent of the 385,379 total air arrivals to the islands. According to Rosa Harris, director of tourism for the Cayman Islands, air arrivals last year were the highest ever recorded.
The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism is also in the launch phase of its fourth-annual Summer Only in Cayman promotion, which offers a number of discounts to visitors who book a vacation by June 30 for travel anytime through Aug. 31. Highlights of the promotion include free admission for children to various Cayman Islands attractions, savings on dive packages and a free fifth night for every four nights booked at participating hotels.
“We couldn't be more excited to share our largest summer sale of the year with travelers just in time for the summer season,” Harris said. “With a number of inviting offers for younger guests to enjoy, there are endless opportunities for families to make the most of their summer vacation in the Cayman Islands. We remain confident that this exceptional seasonal offer will continue to attract new and return visitors each year.”