Government should be encouraged to pursue its latest tourism concept that brings visitors to farmers.
Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts last week told members of the Legislative Assembly there is a plan to develop agri-tourism in the Cayman Islands.
At first blush you might ask why a tourist would want to look at fruits, vegetables and livestock while they’re taking in the sunny weather and sugary beaches.
Agri-tourism is about more than just putting up a stand where farmers and crafters can sell their wares.
It’s become big business in the United States and Canada.
Basically, agri-tourism is the practice of attracting travellers or visitors to an area or areas used primarily for agricultural purposes.
Government’s plans right now are to boost agri-tourism at the agricultural pavilion in Lower Valley.
But wizened farmers like North Side’s William Ebanks, or Willie Penny as he’s known to family and friends, have already been practicing agri-tourism.
Mr. Ebanks welcomes visitors to his farm where they can see sows and piglets, whistling ducks, fresh fruit and produce.
Many tourists who have been travelling to Grand Cayman for years set aside time to make the trek to Hutland Road to visit Mr. Ebanks’ farm.
Under the Government’s plan more farmers would be encouraged to get in on the tourism bandwagon by offering them a central location to display their goods.
This could be a site where Cayman cooking and crafting demonstrations are held. It could be an educational tool not only for our visitors, but for those new to our country and to our own students.
Participants could learn how to grow cassava or how to care for cattle. There could be nature programmes about Cayman’s wildlife and trees and holiday festivals could be held on the site
And while Government is facing a budget deficit, this plan should not be a burden to the country’s coffers. Part of the plan includes corporate sponsorship, which is how it should be.
We think tourists will be drawn to agri-tourism if it is correctly developed.
While they may not be able to take home a basket of mangos or a couple of breadfruit, they can buy them and eat them here. They will also be able to purchase and take home with them processed food from the farms in the Cayman Islands.
We are blessed to be living in a paradise that is rich in indigenous agricultural goods. We already share our beaches, roadways and restaurants with visitors, why not our agricultural heritage.