Aim for better, not more

I’m reading a lot about the current debate on the challenges and the future of tourism in the Cayman Islands.

This letter is my contribution as a tourist – I’ve been coming to Grand Cayman for over eight years – and am an executive in the tourism industry.

I love the Cayman Islands and its people. It’s not my intention to tell the Caymanian people what to do and what not to do. But with tourism as one of its key industries, it’s important for the local economy to get the stay-over tourists to come back.

Many current developments make me wonder how attractive Grand Cayman will be for stay-over tourists in the future.

The entire ocean-front of the island seems to be either developed or for sale.

Seven Mile Beach will soon look like Cancun, including the mega resorts. Major tourist sites (Stingray City, Sandbar, and George Town) are better avoided on days with two or more cruise ships.

Tourism on Grand Cayman seems to be all about more: more development, more beach-front buildings with more stories, more cruise ships, more wave runners, more snorklers, more divers, more traffic, more noise, more pollution.

The stay-over tourists willing to pay the high prices are not looking for more, though.

They are looking for better: better protection of the natural environment – land and sea; better efforts to make tourism more sustainable; better public transportation; better enforcement of the laws and rules in the marine parks, better sidewalks, pedestrian crossings and bicycle lanes – overall a better, real Caymanian experience.

With its friendly people, its societal and political system and the wonderful marine life, the Cayman Islands has a lot to offer.

But since tourists have to pay more to get and stay here than for other Caribbean destinations, they expect more.

I hope the people of the Cayman Islands don’t make the mistakes of so many tourist destinations around the world which focus on more instead of better.

It’s not too late for the Cayman Islands to become the leader in the Caribbean for a better, more sustainable tourism industry.

Alexander Herrmann