Tourism expects bright Christmas

In a bid to make sure room stock levels in the Cayman Islands are well up by Christmas, Minister for Tourism Charles Clifford is arranging another site visit to the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman shortly.

Mr. Clifford said he is preparing to schedule a follow-up site visit to the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, which is scheduled for opening late fall. He visited the site last month.

‘I plan to schedule another visit to make sure things are on schedule and going well for the Ritz-Carlton’s opening and if not, to see if there is anything the Government can do to help with the situation,’ he said.

Commenting on the Department of Tourism’s projections that by December room stock should be up to 81 per cent of pre-Ivan levels, Mr. Clifford said he believes that December will see the Cayman Islands very close to being back to normal with regard to accommodation levels and tourism.

‘That’s one reason I decided to go ahead with the Jazz Festival in December. It’s a great way to say to the world, ‘Here we are. We’re back in business.’ I think it is an excellent opportunity to show where we have come to,’ he said.

The Minister is set to review the room stock situation for the Cayman Islands in the coming weeks.

Commenting on the fact that the West Bay Dock is not going ahead, Mr. Clifford said the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association funding that had been allocated toward that would be going to additional work for George Town’s cruise facilities and the upgrading of cruise facilities at Spotts. How that money will exactly be spent, he said, is still being decided. The total funding for the West Bay Dock was originally US$8.5 million, of which $1.1 million was spent by the previous Government ($650,000 on one parcel of land).

‘It did not make sense to proceed with that facility and the FCCA are backing us on this,’ said Mr. Clifford.

With regard to a proposed dolphinarium for Cayman, Mr. Clifford said that his Ministry and Mr. Kurt Tibbetts’ Ministry of Agriculture are reviewing the policy of the previous administration to see if they will endorse the project. Under the previous Government, import permits were granted to import eight bottlenose dolphins but other conditions have yet to be met and plans have yet to be submitted to the Planning Department. Mr. Clifford said that they had met with the developers of the project and learned that they have already substantially invested in the venture.