Since our national airline has been in operation, I think I am correct in saying it has been running at a financial loss (which airline is not these days). I realise that CAL has, and still will, provide a vital service to these islands. No-one could fault CAL for pre-Ivan and post-Ivan when others failed to help. The staff did a wonderful job and my heart went out to the pilots and crew during that time.
I am not sure to what extent CAL is subsidised by our Government, but maybe the time is coming, or, for that matter, has come, to bite the bullet and fully support the airline financially. I understand that fuel prices are high etc. But if I remember correctly, years back when Jamaica suffered a severe downturn in stay-over visitors Air Jamaica was brining visitors in free or at worst a bare minimum. Has the time come for something similar for CAL? Maybe not for free, but let us at least get prices across the board which are attainable by everyone, not just the folks who can afford high end hotels like the Ritz. Spirit is coming here in February. Wonderful, but how long will they be allowed the low fares currently being offered. Not for long would be my guess. We need to keep our hotel and condo rates at no more than summer rates. We need to get the folks here while we rebuild. I realise that we don’t or can’t control room rates, but maybe if our own airline would lead the way they may follow. For too long I have heard the saying rates must go up in the winter. Why? Because of tradition – and everyone else does it. Until we bounce back we need to be different and daring in our tourism approach.
I am sure that everyone has at least some experience with traffic jams whether it is from West Bay or the Eastern Districts. We have all suffered the long waits in line, while those other idiots drive down the inside lanes, rushing to get to wherever. Why not make school bussing compulsory. Of course, when the two new high schools are in place (West Bay and East End I think) things will improve and of course don’t forget the bypass. Have the parents take the kids to a designated spot where buses would take them to school and the same at the end of the day.
No one is disputing the importance of cruise travel to our economy, and post-Ivan it was a good move on the part of former Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush to bring them back. As it stands now, I believe we are sending the wrong message to our future stay-over visitors. Cruise passengers could or should be a gold mine for eventually becoming stay-over visitors. As we are now, with way too many passengers coming ashore (some days 12-14,000) we are doing serious damage to this wonderful chance to give these folks the incentive to return and see more of what we have to offer. Our infrastructure cannot deal with these huge numbers, and in the long run this will do us far more harm than good. Our fragile marine environment cannot sustain this constant barrage for too much longer.
To overcome this situation I certainly hope they would as it is in their best interests to keep Cayman a very desirous destination. Today – not tomorrow.