Low season steady for GT

Many businesses in George Town are reporting a fruitful trade for low season, with business well up on last year.

At Island Companies, director of Marketing Mark Lewis-Jones went so far as saying this low season is on track as being their best ever.

There are a number of factors that have contributed to this, he stated.

The new Freedom of the Seas ship, the biggest cruise ship in the world, has been coming here every week since its inaugural visit in June, along with the Caribbean and Crown Princess ships (also new), which have also contributed to sales, he said.

Mr. Lewis-Jones explained that when a new ship is the darling of its fleet, it tends to charge a premium for tickets and therefore its passengers tend to have a lot of money to spend.

He added that the presence of the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman has also brought high level clientele here for all duty free stores.

Hotel occupancy for all hotels is up, and the weather, of course, has facilitated guests coming here this season, he said.

‘When a cruise ship passes us by because of bad weather, that’s 2,000 to 3,000 guests that are missed,’ he said.

Island Companies is grateful also, he said, for the continued support from island residents.

At Columbian Emeralds General Island Manager Keith Mylrea said he would put this season on a par with most summers here. But business is a lot stronger than last year.

The ships are coming in on a regular basis, he said. Generally speaking they don’t come in during low season Friday to Tuesday, so this is when the stay-over guests and residents take a trip in.

However, at Magnum Jewellers business has been slow this low season, with reports of people simply not spending money.

Manager Ricky Baryanani said he believes this is because the quality of guests is not such that they are inclined to spend.

It is mostly cruise guests that frequent the store, he said, rather than stay-over guests, which they have not seen much of.

At Senor Frogs on Fort Street, business has been steady enough, said Administrator Liliana Gonzalez.

The calm weather so far this hurricane season has meant regular uninterrupted cruise calls.

‘We’ve been very lucky because of the weather. Last year by this time there had already been hurricane watches and stormy weather,’ she said.

However, the bar and restaurant is still awaiting the full opening of the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal, recently announced by Minister Clifford to be tentatively set for 5 September. The opening of the retail stores at this facility would see more cruise tourists pass by the general Fort Street area.

Lunchtimes are generally busy with cruise tourists and on Friday and Saturday evenings the premises does a local trade.

Similarly, at the Hard Rock Café business from cruise ships has been steady throughout low season, which General Manager Annick Pasquali says is similar to a typical pre-Ivan low season, but much better than last year.

‘Compared to last year there’s been a tremendous improvement,’ she said.

Just this week she has noticed it slowing a little more, as many US schools are now back in session.

The bar and restaurant has also been getting business from residents in the evening and with more tourist accommodation rooms online than last year, stay-over business is also up on low season in 2005.

At Breezes by the Bay, Area Operations manager, Steven Hayes said they are having a very good off season.

All trade has been good he said, from cruise ships, guests at condos and hotels and from residents.