2023 Tourism Recap & Impact on Real Estate

Buying & Selling, Featured, News

As we enjoy a bit of a slow down after the holiday season and before the annual surge at Spring break, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some recent tourism statistics released by the Department of Tourism, as well as some updates on new hotel openings and how this impacts the Cayman Islands real estate market.

Air arrival statistics

The Department of Tourism has published its statistics for 2023 and the news is great for the return of the Cayman Islands tourism industry.

For all of 2023, we saw 429,284 air arrivals with 49,914 alone in the month of December. This is up from 284,274 in 2022 a 51% increase and but still lower by 14.6% from pre-pandemic levels in 2019 of 502,739. Although 2023’s air arrivals are still lower than 2019 we have to look at the number of rooms available for those visitors to get a true sense of the picture which I will outline below.

With respect to where these visitors are coming from, 355,364 or 82.8% come from the United States, 28,571 or 6.66% come from Canada, 19,893 or 4.6% come from Europe, with the balance coming from the rest of the world.

When you compare these percentages from 2019 and thus pre-COVID travel, the numbers are consistent with a slight decrease from 83.3% from the United States and a slight increase from 6% from Canada.

According to a report from January to September of 2023, 56.4% are first time visitors with 88% coming in for a vacation staying an average of 6 nights, which is the same length as in 2019. The top states during this period were Texas (12%), New York (10%), Florida (9%), New Jersey (5%) and California (4%).

Flight schedule

The Cayman Islands currently receives inbound direct flights from Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Ft. Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Tampa, Washington DC, as well as from Toronto, Canada, and London, UK.

Cayman Airways also offers flights from Barbados, Cuba, Jamaica, Honduras, and Panama.


The Department of Tourism reports that from 2019-2020 there were a total of 3,963 hotel accommodation beds. This figure has gone down by 2% in 2023-2024 with 3,885 hotel accommodation beds. But the number of accommodation beds has increased during this period for both apartments and guest houses. When you look at overall numbers, in 2019-2020 there were a total of 21,114 accommodation beds compared to 21,916 in 2023-2024 a very slight 3.8% increase over the last 5 years.

Therefore, it is not surprising that we haven’t seen a huge increase in visitor arrivals as there are only so many places to stay. Of course, this is all going to change beginning as early as next month.

The new Hotel Indigo Grand Cayman is scheduled to open this year (282 rooms) and is accepting room reservations at the beginning of May. VIDA Ocean Adventure Lodge (18 rooms) up on Conch Point Road in West Bay is promoting a March 1, 2024, opening date. The Grand Hyatt (351 rooms) and Kailani, a Curio Collection by Hilton Hotel (80 rooms) are both slated to open in 2025, as well as OneGT (178 rooms), and the Mandarin Oriental (89 rooms) further out in the future. That a total of 820 new hotel rooms.

According to the Department of Tourism as of September 2023 there are 2,552 hotel rooms available across all 3 islands. With the addition of 282 rooms from Hotel Indigo and 18 rooms from VIDA in 2024 the room count will jump to 2,852, an 11.8% increase. When the 351 rooms from the Grand Hyatt, the 80 rooms from the Kailani and the 178 rooms from OneGT are added in 2025 this will add another 609 rooms for a total of 3,461, a 21.4% increase over 2024. When all these new hotels are opened it will increase the number of rooms to 3,550 which is a 39% from where we stand today.

That huge growth in hotel rooms alone will undoubtedly increase the number of visitors to our islands especially when globally recognized brands such as the Grand Hyatt, Hilton and Mandarin Oriental will bring in new, brand-loyal clientele.

It is also important to note that 49% of visitor accommodations in the Cayman Islands are recorded as apartments or condos. This means that many visitors are staying at privately owned residences many of which are offered through short-term vacation rental sites such as Airbnb or Vrbo.

As of September 2023, the Department of Tourism states that there are 3,723 apartments and condos registered as short-term accommodation options. This number will undoubted grow as new developments continue being built across the island.

Investment properties that maximize this type of revenue can be found island wide from luxury condos along Seven Mile Beach such as Laguna del Mar, Aqua Bay, and Tamarind Bay to ultra-private beachfront villas away from the crowd up in Cayman Kai such as Just 4 Fun and much more.

Cayman Airways boom in passengers

At the end of January, Cayman Airways announced that its annual passenger volume surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

“In a statement released on January 31, the national carrier said it had transported 422,189 passengers in 2023, exceeding the 410,800 passengers carried in 2019, the last full year prior to the pandemic.”[i] It’s important to note that this number includes all passengers not just visitors as reported above by the Department of Tourism.

These numbers were undoubtedly buoyed by the addition a twice weekly service to Los Angeles, as well as a weekly route to Barbados and the relaunch of its Panama flights.

Earlier in December, Kansas City, Missouri, and Austin, Texas were both identified as potential future destinations for Cayman Airways flights.

Tourism and real estate

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles tourism and real estate in the Cayman Islands are strongly connected. From January through September of this year, 43.6% of our visitors are repeat visitors. They come to our islands, fall in love, and make additional trips in the future.

Many of these visitors decide to purchase real estate in the Cayman Islands be it a home they can relocate to or live in part of the year, a vacation home, or an investment. As more and more visitors continue to return to our islands, some of them for the first time, more and more people will be interested in buying their own slice of paradise.

As the numbers of people visiting our islands gets stronger especially as we move into Spring break, the number of people interested in buying real estate here will also increase. Most foreign buyers visit Cayman first before deciding to buy and in fact many are here on holiday and start investigating real estate options while they are down visiting.

So, what does this all mean? If you see something you like, don’t wait. Not only will it probably not be there tomorrow, but if it is it’s probably going to cost you more than it would today.

As always, my team and I are here to help with any questions you may have about real estate in the Cayman Islands from new developments to land for building your dream home to finding the right mortgage to the best fish fry on island and everything in between. Contact us at +1 345 945 4000.

[i] Cayman Compass, February 2, 2024