The Canadian office of the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism had a banner year in 2010, welcoming 19,499 Canadians, the highest number of recorded visitors for the destination from this market. Arrivals from Canada were up 13% over 2009, due in part to additional lift provided by WestJet’s new Toronto service to Grand Cayman. Following WestJet’s inaugural launch in November, the destination saw an immediate surge in arrivals with a 43.1% increase in November, and a 38% increase in December, the latter being the best month ever for visitation from Canada. 2011 is also off to a strong start with an increase of 26.3% in January and 29.5% in February.
The destination is poised for more good news as WestJet recently announced it would be extending the direct service into the summer/early fall season by offering one flight per week. Beginning May 1, WestJet will fly direct from Toronto to Grand Cayman on Sundays while Air Canada will offer its direct service on Saturdays, also out of Toronto.
In 2011, the destination will continue to unveil its three-year strategic marketing plan which includes grass-roots initiatives and a targeted event strategy among other outreach tactics aimed at capturing the discerning traveller. Culinary tourism, romance/weddings and the meetings and incentives market are key areas of focus for the Canadian office, in addition to creating momentum within the dive market. A decommissioned naval ship, the U.S.S. Kittiwake, was recently sunk off the northern end of Grand Cayman and has quickly become a must-do wreck site among those familiar with Cayman’s reputation as a top dive destination.