Tourism outlook remains positive

The general message from the tourism accommodations sector is that the recent foiled terrorism plot and increased security at airports should not have a significant effect on tourism here.

Since last Thursday new travel regulations have been imposed requiring earlier check-in, increased security checks and severe limits on carry-on luggage.

A cross-section of resorts reported no real cancellations on the back of the terror threats and upgraded airport security.

There was one cancellation reported at Regal Beach Club, where a guest cancelled last Friday, the day after the new travel security measures were put in place.

General Manager of the Westin Casuarina Resort Dan Szydlowski said although customers are a little frustrated that it may take them some extra time at the airports, the hotel has not seen any real cancellations because of the situation. Guests have been going to the airport over three hours prior to their flights.

He said the hotel supports Minister for Tourism Charles Clifford in what he said recently, that he does not expect the foiled terrorism plot to affect tourism significantly in the Cayman Islands, because travellers know that strict travel rules are the new reality.

Managing Director of the Reef Resort, Tom McCallum also believes the current airport situation will not affect tourism here.

There is such a small market from the United Kingdom and those travellers from the United States are already used to high security in US airports since 9/11, he said.

If travellers from the US had been banned from carrying laptops here, maybe this would be an issue, but that has not happened so there has been no impact, he said.

Director of Marketing at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort Carolina Voullieme also does not see this as a long term problem for tourism, because the airlines and airports have worked hard to implement the new security measures, she said.

‘People will always need a vacation and they will always need to travel for business. They just need to get used to the new regulations.’

Although the hotel is not receiving any cancellations because of the recent terror threats Marriott hotels are trying to be flexible with cancellations and late arrivals, she said, adding that the hotel takes the security of its customers seriously.

Communications Director of the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Melissa Perkins said as soon as the restrictions came out the resort gave instructions to guests on what they could and could not carry on board the airplane.

‘We got the guests prepared so there would be no surprises for them at the airport,’ said Ms Perkins.

She noted that hotel reservations were not affected adversely by the situation.

Assistant Manager Marcia Eichenberger said there have been no cancellations at Plantana Condominiums.

However, General Manager of Regal Beach Club Marlene Bodden is concerned. With it being slow season, she said this is the last thing tourism needs.

‘Every week it’s something new. We’re worried about tourism worldwide, along with the price of gas. People are very price conscious nowadays. It’s getting hard every day to attract people here. I don’t know what we can come up with,’ she said.