The good news is that our room stock for stay-over visitors is steadily increasing.
The great news is that Minister of Tourism Charles Clifford and Director of Tourism Pilar Bush are keeping a check on the pulse of that room stock and doing everything they can to work with hotels, condos and tourists to bring in more people who will spend at least a night and a bit of cash in the Cayman Islands.
While we don’t like to compare existing room figures to those of pre-Ivan in September 2004, we do have to have some sort of benchmark to see where we were, where we are and where we’re going.
Before Hurricane Ivan unleashed its horrific fury on the Cayman Islands, there were 5,181 rooms available to guests who chose to stay over for their holiday making.
Today there are 3,794 rooms available for stay-over vacationers on all three islands.
Some new developments have come on line since Ivan, such as The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
That means that some hotels and condos that were open pre-Ivan haven’t and some probably won’t rebuild. However, the construction of new developments will add more rooms to the stay-over stock.
Hand-in-hand with the room stock are numbers from the Owen Roberts International Airport.
Those numbers are looking better and better as each day passes.
We had 10,209 weekly available seats on airlines coming into Grand Cayman in December 2003, which compares to 9,105 available seats in December, just passed.
Add to that Spirit’s seven weekly flights and American Airlines’ added daily flight five days a week for even better figures.
You can be sure that Mr. Clifford and Ms Bush are working diligently with all involved in the tourism product to ensure that we come back not only to pre-Ivan figures, but come back better and stronger.
And we can do our part to help.
We can be good ambassadors of the Cayman Islands every time we talk to a friend or family member who is overseas.
We can help here at home by making sure our roadways and yards are free of litter.
We can also help by offering a smile to our visitors and going out of our way to be courteous and helpful when they seek directions.
We can help by being gracious while driving behind tourists and remember they’re in a foreign country and many probably aren’t too sure about this driving on the left thing and it’s possible they could be lost.
There is much that we, as individuals, can do to help the Department of Tourism right here at home and when we travel abroad.
The Cayman Islands has a lot to offer those who visit our shores.
Each and every one of us relies on the tourism dollar either directly or indirectly for our own livelihood.
It is incumbent on all of us to help tourism not only survive, but to thrive.