Today’s Editorial July 17: Slow season officially here

Talk tourism to those in the industry this time of year and you get a hodgepodge of responses.

Summer is officially here and marks what is typically the slow season for tourism in the Cayman Islands.

There are some property owners and managers who see a silver lining around the slow tourism season cloud.

There was little storm activity during Hurricane Season 2006 and so far this year things have been quiet.

After Hurricane Ivan many hotels and condominiums adopted hurricane policies or joined a hurricane guarantee programme.

It is designed to calm the nervous traveller in that it lets them cancel their vacation prior to the scheduled departure date from home in the event of an oncoming storm. The can cancel and rebook without penalty.

If the traveller is on-island and forced to leave because of a hurricane they will be offered a free replacement stay for the same duration as the one originally booked, regardless of how many days were affected by hurricane force winds.

Some hotel chains have adopted their own policies.

It’s a goodwill gesture on the part of the properties and helps the Department of Tourism market the Cayman Islands to would-be visitors.

Those who see a tarnished silver lining around the summer tourism product cite problems with US passport requirements and expensive airfares for a lack of visitors and their money.

While the US did relax its requirement of its citizens holding passports to re-enter that country after visiting the Caribbean, the relaxation left more confusion than remedy.

And it is true that the cost of an airplane ticket to get to the Cayman Islands can be outrageous. With ever-increasing oil prices it’s a sure bet airline prices won’t fall.

While we have to contend with high airfares and passport requirements from other countries, we also face heavy competition throughout the Caribbean region.

DoT and the Ministry of Tourism have made a right move in bringing direct flights to and from New York to help boost summer travel.

It’s too early to see what will happen with visitor rates, but it can only help summertime occupancies.

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