Cayman’s tourism focus questioned

An opposition party lawmaker recently said Cayman Islands tourism officials do not fully appreciate the value cruise ship visitors bring to the country.

MLA Rolston Anglin’s comments came Monday during the on-going debate over the government’s proposed budget. Mr. Anglin said cruise tourism is a key factor in helping develop Cayman’s small businesses.

Tourism in the Cayman Islands

Tourism is on the minds of lawmakers in the Cayman Islands as cruise ships deliver thousands of visitors to Grand Cayman Wednesday. Photo: Cliodhna McGowan

‘I don’t believe this government holds any real appreciation for the impact that cruise tourism has on this economy,’ Mr. Anglin said.

The West Bay MLA went on to call government plans to encourage high-end stay-over tourism a ‘fallacy’ as long as those plans were not backed up by efforts to improve Cayman’s overall appearance. Mr. Anglin said the Tourism Ministry should focus on areas where the local economy has seen steady growth.

‘There is very little about the distance you travel from the airport to the Ritz-Carlton that indicates this is a high-end destination,’ he said.

Mr. Anglin said tourism officials were making the same mistake over and over and expecting a different result, even though the tourism business has changed rapidly within the past 10 years.

‘We have 2 million cruise ship passengers coming through these shores,’ he said. ‘We need to improve the quality of product Cayman.

‘Air arrivals are down for a good reason, and I don’t see anything that’s going to fix it.’

Statistics from the Department of Tourism do show air arrivals slumping in the years since Hurricane Ivan hit the island in 2004. However, the most recent numbers for January, February and March 2007 do indicate a substantial increase in air arrivals when compared to the first quarter of 2006.

Tourism Minister Charles Clifford said at the time those figures were released (Caymanian Compass, 1 May) that Cayman’s marketing strategies and product enhancements were beginning to pay dividends.

He also acknowledged the islands continue to face challenges as a destination.

During the debate Mr. Anglin accused Mr. Clifford of taking a view based on the politics of Grand Cayman.

‘I do not believe he is moving and developing this product,’ Mr. Anglin said.

Last year, Mr. Clifford announced plans for the establishment of berthing facilities for four cruise ships in George Town harbour, which he said would allow for ‘a more enjoyable experience for those who call on our shores.’ (Compass, 28 July 2006)

Mr. Anglin also urged government to establish a port somewhere outside of the George Town Central Business District.

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