Today’s Editorial November 1: Image is (almost) everything

Imagine it’s your last day of vacation – and it’s been a great one – and it’s time to hail a taxi and head to the airport for the return flight home.

The taxi pulls up and you get in looking warily at the not-so nattily attired driver. But you settle back and begin reliving the wonderful moments of your visit to this tropical destination.

The taxi driver cranks the engine and takes off. Exhaust starts filling the interior of the car and you begin feeling sick. Your memories of a perfect holiday are soon being erased.

Could this scenario be played out in the Cayman Islands? We doubt it. But it did happen in Turks and Caicos and unfortunately that’s what the visitor remembers most about his trip; the bad ride and service from the last person he dealt with before leaving that country.

Taxi and tour operators are, more often than not, the first and last people who interact with visitors to any country.

That’s why it’s refreshing to know that the taxi and tour operators in the Cayman Islands are now fitted with sharp uniforms.

The uniforms are part of an overall effort to improve the image of taxi operators, including workshops about improved customer relations.

The uniforms and workshops were courtesy of the Ministry of Tourism.

Licensed operators of good standing will get three free uniform shirts from the Ministry, which should be commended for coming up with a way to get taxi operators to buy into the idea of dressing uniformly.

In addition to showing uniformity, taxi and tour operators wearing the uniform are a good indicator to visitors that they are hiring legitimate drivers.

Our public transport operators are so vital to the tourism industry.

The image they portray can make or break tourism.

Taking a look just at cruise tourism, the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association points out that the typical cruise ship carrying 2,000 passengers and 900 crew members generates almost $259,000 in passenger and crew expenditures during a port of call visit per ship.

Too, not all cruise ship passengers are exclusively cruisers; they are frequent vacationers that cruise as part of their vacation mix. They average over three trips each year, taking nine other non-cruise vacations in the three-year period.

As ambassadors of the Cayman Islands public transport operators may help influence whether that cruise ship passenger will be so impressed with our country that he’ll want to come back as a stayover.

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