Tourism Minister Charles Clifford uttered some much needed and appreciated words as he opened the Annual Tourism Conference yesterday.
He assured those in attendance that starting yesterday, his Ministry and the Department of Tourism will discuss room stock in the Cayman Islands based on today’s figures.
No longer will the room stock be compared to what it was pre-Ivan.
That room stock stands to be at 80 per cent of pre-Ivan figures in December and up to 93 per cent in March.
But that’s the last time we’ll hear the figures presented this way.
It’s time for us to put Ivan behind us and stop comparing things to what they were before Ivan and what they are now.
We were told earlier this year that no country, city or state that goes through a major catastrophe like Ivan ever goes back to what it was.
If all goes right, it rebounds to something better.
And we think, that for the most part, the Cayman Islands has rebounded and built something better.
From today forward, Mr. Clifford said, those who manage tourism will work with the room stock the Cayman Islands has, develop strategies to fill it and work with private sector partners to encourage investment in the Cayman Islands.
The Minister had other good news to share.
Our airport is going to get some much-needed attention, with work slated to begin next year. It is comforting to know that construction is being carefully planned and done in phases so the airport can remain open.
Our port will also get attention and plans to develop a port at Spotts are back on the drawing board. That’s important because we need to have a place for ships to bring their passengers when the weather makes it impossible to dock at Hog Sty Bay in George Town.
Along with the port plans are a renewed interest in berthing facilities, which would mean a longer stay for onshore guests, and a safer and easier disembarkation and embarkation process.
The Minister also looked ahead when he told those at the conference that The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, is looking at a 15 December opening date and that the resort has already reported bookings of more than 89,000 room nights.
It is wonderful that Minister Clifford and the rest of the Tourism team is looking ahead and making exciting plans.
But they can’t do it alone. They need everyone’s help, especially that of native Caymanians.
Plans are in the works to set up an apprenticeship programme to train people now to care about and work with tourism and to pass that passion for tourism on to the next generation.
Visitors to our islands want to meet the wonderful and genteel people of the Cayman Islands.
Only we can share what makes us so special with the rest of the world.