Some water sports operators who run trips for tourists to Stingray City and the Sandbar are suffering because of a recent spate of bad weather.
The spell of Nor’westers and Nor’easters we’ve experienced latterly has really hampered business, especially trips catering to cruise passengers.
Mr. Ronnie Anglin of Captain Marvin’s Watersports said that at a rough guess, they have probably lost three weeks of business at the Sandbar in the past two months. Other years it might be normal to lose maybe four days, or no more than a week, between the months of December and January.
‘It seems to me it’s been the worst (weather) it’s been in many, many years,’ he said.
Even 88-year-old Captain Marvin cannot remember a time when it was worse in all his years, said Mr. Anglin.
‘It’s devastating for us. Our industry has been especially hit,’ he said.
Mr. Anglin said that having been affected so badly after Hurricane Ivan, the operators were already struggling, without any more bad weather affecting them.
‘It is hitting us very hard and that’s across the board in this industry.
‘We’re really hoping there will be an improvement. I’m going to be spending a lot of time on my knees for things to improve.
‘It does have a trickle down affect on the economy. We employ a lot of Caymanians. When it hurts us it hurts everyone else around,’ he said.
Mr. Anglin pointed out that Captain Marvin’s Water sports usually visits the Sandbar rather than Stingray City, but if you can’t go to one because of bad weather, you generally can’t go to the other, he said.
Ms Nancy Easterbrook of Divetech and Cayman Islands Tourism Association board member agrees that this winter has been particularly bad.
‘It is definitely a worse winter season than some years, but some other years we have been hit for weeks on end. It’s cyclical,’ she said.
Ms Easterbrook said for her company and those that cater for stay-over tourists, Stingray City and the Sandbar are not mainstay attractions, but very nice additions.
Divetech, and most other dive operators would go there once or twice a week, she said.
‘We’ve had to cancel five trips there since Christmas and have gone out there three times.’
Ms Easterbrook said the weather is not helping the recovery effort for tourism and she believes that those companies catering mostly to cruise passengers would certainly be suffering because of it.
Tourists who did not make it to Stingray City because of the weather were disappointed, but perhaps the hope of visiting it again gives them another reason to return next year, she said.
Business has also been hampered by cruise ships not being able to dock in George Town because of rough seas.
Ships are not yet permitted to disembark passengers at Spotts Dock because of security and safety issues. Spotts Dock has been used in the past when seas in George Town are rough. Fencing work is now under way at Spotts in an effort to get it ready for tourists.