As part of its closer focus on Europe, including the Irish market, the Department of Tourism has hosted the first ever group of Irish journalists to visit the Cayman Islands on a familiarisation trip.
During last week’s visit, the main thrust of views on the islands given by the five journalists, who work for major national publications in Ireland, was that the destination is enjoyable and unusual.
However, it is not cheap to holiday here and this, along with the distance factor, makes a vacation here suitable for a specific market of Irish people, they said – those who are affluent and can come for a reasonable length of stay.
But the point was also made by the journalists that Irish people have become more affluent and adventurous in where they go.
The Cayman Islands raising its profile in the Irish market has been timed to coincide with the maturation of an Irish national five-year savings plan, says a press release from DoT.
Don McDougall of DoT, Europe says in the release, ‘A strategic, multi-faceted push in the Irish market is appropriate given that the island’s economy is booming, and the savings scheme means that there is likely to be a cash-rich portion of the population who will be looking to spend their windfalls on luxury items such as the holiday of a lifetime’.
Overall the impressions of the journalists, who spent the majority of their week-long trip on Grand Cayman, and a day and a night on Little Cayman, have been very positive.
‘It’s been absolutely fabulous,’ said John Masterson of the Sunday Independent (circulation 286,613).
‘Of course the first reason any Irish person would love it here is the weather,’ he noted. ‘I was a little surprised at how luxurious it is, and how easy it is to instantly feel at home in’.
Mr. Masterson made the point that the price is fair value for what you get and the destination is a paradise for those into watersports.
Áine Coffey of the Sunday Tribune (circulation 71,808) commented that the water and marine life in general is amazing.
Speaking about Little Cayman, she said it is a wonderful location for Irish people interested in diving, but for those who don’t dive, they get the bonus of having the island to themselves.
Paul McDaid of the Irish Daily Mirror and Northern Irish Daily Mirror (circulation 1,634,584) said he would recommend the Cayman Islands to anyone. He expressed the belief that there is plenty to see here, including the unusual, such as the blue iguana.
He also enjoyed the tropical feel of the island and he likes it just the way it is.
‘It’s not as built up as I thought it would be, but you still get the sense that this is the first wave of development on the island. There’s probably more scope for expansion, but I like it the way it is,’ he said, adding that development could change it into something different.
Yvette Dolan of Abroad Magazine, with an affluent readership of 10,000, said she hadn’t expected Cayman to be quite so western in style. ‘It seems more American than Caribbean or British colonial,’ she commented.
She sees it as a great opportunity for vacationers to take a two-stop trip in, such as travelling on to Cuba or Miami afterwards.
The latter is also the sentiment of Séan Boyne of the Sunday World (circulation 272,304), who describes Cayman as being a very unusual location for Irish people to visit.
‘There seems to be very little crime here and it might appeal to an older traveller. There doesn’t seem to be any lager louts here that you might find in some other resorts in Europe. The people are very polite and welcoming, whether they are local or expat,’ he said.
Little Cayman, he commented, had some attributes of a desert island. ‘The very small scale and unspoilt nature and tiny population all made it a special place to visit.’
Highlights of the trip for the group were a visit to Stingray City, surfing the wave machine at Black Pearl Skate and Surf Park, a sunset cruise with Red Sail Sports, a Cayman Islands Helicopters ride, Boatswain’s Beach, the Butterfly Farm.
The group stayed at the Courtyard Marriott while on Grand Cayman and experienced the luxury of The Club during their brief stay on Little Cayman.
An Irish TV crew already filmed here last month for a destination travel quiz show ‘Holiday Quiz’. The 30 minute show based on the Cayman Islands will be shown in a primetime slot this weekend.
Earlier this year the Cayman Islands had a presence at the Dublin Holiday Show in Ireland. A consumer and trade event, the Dublin Holiday Show supported the DoT’s goal of achieving maximum awareness for the Cayman Islands in the Irish market.