As I have discussed in these updates over the years, tourism and the real estate industry are closely interlinked in the Cayman Islands, as tourism brings in new visitors to the island who frequently then fall in love with the islands and decide to buy a second home here. Looking at our tourism industry as a whole, we have had a very successful year or so, with tourism arrivals breaking records last year and this year it’s showing similar signs of promise, with February’s air arrivals a healthy 40,020 this year versus 35,547 in 2017, an increase of 12.6 per cent (and this figure was up 2.14 per cent on 2016). January’s figures were even more impressive this year, with 39,185 air arrivals this year versus 31,634 in January 2017, an increase of 23.87 per cent.
In tandem, we have enjoyed a very active market in our real estate industry, not just from interest by foreign investors, but also by the local market as well. But one caveat that I wish to discuss when looking at all this prosperity as a whole is that I believe people should be aware of becoming too complacent.
The devastating hurricane season that hit competitor islands in the Eastern Caribbean last year (in particular hurricanes Irma and Maria which wreaked havoc in places such as the British Virgin Islands and US Virgin Islands, St Martin and Anguilla) has undoubtedly created some additional uplift as far as diverting tourists to Cayman. While I am not stating that this has been the sole reason for our growth in tourism and real estate, I do believe it has an effect, with people visiting who might not necessarily have chosen the Cayman Islands enjoying what they have seen here and making further moves to actually buy a home here.
But the Eastern Caribbean islands will not be down for long. While there may be a percentage of people who were uninsured in these islands, I would imagine that the majority will have been adequately insured which means they will have or will be receiving insurance payouts to allow them to rebuild their tourism products bigger and better than ever. They now have the opportunity to build a new and improved tourism industry; much like the Cayman Islands was able following our own devastating Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Like Cayman, they won’t just be putting back what they had originally; they will be raising the bar with upgrades and improvements. This means that Cayman cannot remain static; it must look to raise its own bar if it is to compete with other islands’ in the future.
Thankfully, Cayman’s market is solid and with the advent of the new exciting hotels and resorts currently being developed here I believe we will be able to attract whole new demographics of people to the island, those who are loyal to a particular brand who will want to try out the newest locations that their favoured brand has to offer. This, coupled with the steady growth in the population, currently running at about 2,500 new people every year, means Cayman is well poised to retain its strong tourism and real estate industries for the years to come.