The number of cruise ship visitors rocketed by more than 168 per cent last November compared with the same period in 2017, the Bermuda Tourism Authority said yesterday.
The number of tourists who arrived by air rose by just 2.7 per cent over the same time frame.
Kevin Dallas, the BTA chief executive, said: “As outlined in the National Tourism Plan, our strategy is to focus on better balance in Bermuda’s cruise business with more calls outside the summer months.
“The effectiveness of that strategy has shown up in the November 2018 visitor arrival statistics.”
Mr Dallas added: “As our extended season strategy takes hold, we hope tourism experience providers are ready to provide the same level of service to cruise passengers in November as they do during the summer.”
A total of 18,620 visitors travelled to the island by cruise ship and 11,836 tourists flew to the island last November.
Wedding bells helped boost air arrivals in the month as 674 visitors gave marriage ceremonies as their reason to travel to Bermuda — more than double the figure for the same period in 2017.
The increase in tourism arrivals came despite a drop in airlift to Bermuda as airlines provided 10.1 per cent fewer seats on Bermuda-bound flights.
Overall air arrivals dropped by 4.7 per cent last November compared with the previous year because of a 14.6 per cent decrease in business travel and a 13.5 per cent drop in people visiting friends and family in Bermuda.
Hotel occupancy in November also dropped year-on-year, from 64.3 per cent occupancy with 65,905 bed nights to 55.9 per cent occupancy with 59,959 bed nights.
The decrease resulted in an $11.12 reduction in revenue per room for hotels.
The percentage of visitors who opted for Airbnb-style vacation rentals rose from 1,435 to 1,500, a 0.7 per cent increase 8.2 per cent.
Mr Dallas said that year-on-year hotel occupancy in the first 11 months of 2018 was only slightly up from 2017.
He added: “When you strip out 2017, which was boosted by the America’s Cup, hotel occupancy is up more than six percentage points versus 2016. That’s healthy growth.
“While there is plenty of hard work left to do in the Bermuda tourism comeback, our partners at the Bermuda Hotel Association are very pleased with the progress over the past three years — as are we.”
Mr Dallas said year-on-year figures for November were also skewed because the island hosted a large-scale international business conference in November 2017.
He explained: “Our sales team landed a large Canadian business group which brought about 800 business visitors to occupy three local hotels.
“Without a group of that size in November 2018, business visitors, hotel occupancy and visitation from Canada were all down within that one month.
“Meantime, leisure air visitor arrivals continue to perform extremely well.
“In fact, leisure travellers in 2018 are more than filling the gaps left by decreases in the business and visiting friends and family categories.”
• To view the BTA’s monthly measures report for November 2018, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”