The Cayman Islands is still battling tragedy and disaster.
It may not be evident on the face of things, but air tourist and cruise guest arrival figures prove it.
Just a glance at the figures would have many believing that the tourism product of the Cayman Islands is doing quite well.
But the figures reveal that we’re still not up to par with figures of 2001.
Two major things happened to push those figures down.
The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., had rippling effects worldwide, especially in the Cayman Islands.
People became afraid to leave their homes. The travel industry took a hard hit. In Cayman, the number of tourists seeking out paradise to forget their troubles and cares dwindled.
Consider this: In December 2000 there were 35,806 tourist air arrivals to the Cayman Islands. The results of the 9/11 attacks pushed that number to 28,049. This past December the figure stood at 21,588.
Numbers were climbing and had gotten up to 30,848 in December of 2003.
But then we had our own September disaster.
Hurricane Ivan hit our shores in September, 2004, bringing with it high winds, water and massive destruction.
We, as a country, are still recovering from the storm.
The Ministry and Department of Tourism are to be commended for the work that was done following 9/11 and Ivan to entice people back to our shores.
It is not their fault that terrorists decided to change the face of the world and no one can control Mother Nature.
The bright side to this picture is that December 2005’s figure was 21,588. Compare that to the dismal figure of December 2004 – 11,201 – and we have hope because our air arrivals increased 92.8 per cent in just one year.
That says a lot about our tourism product and the people who market and sustain it. They’re doing a good job.
Air arrivals in December are extremely important to the economy of the Cayman Islands.
December is typically our bread and butter month. It’s considered high season, when many people from the northern climates look to the sunny Caribbean for a place to warm up.
We hope the recent tourist arrival numbers offer hope, not despair.
The Cayman Islands, her people and her tourism product have suffered much from terrorists and nature. But the country, like her people, is filled with resolve and determination.
Those numbers will likely continue to increase and hopefully we can soon bypass the 2000 benchmark of 35,806.
It’s up to all of us to be good ambassadors for the Cayman Islands and treat all of our visitors with respect and offer a helping hand when we can. If we all turn on that Caymanian charm we’ll once again have tourists worldwide lining up at the airports eager to see what’s so special about Cayman and spend a few nights with us.