Today’s Editorial November 15: Being responsible with tourism

It’s unfortunate that National Geographic has chosen to give its 5.3 million readers a negative impression of Grand Cayman.

But we hope that those in the tourism industry read the report with an open mind.

The writers are correct. Grand Cayman, in some places, does resemble South Florida.

We have some of the same chain restaurants and resorts gracing the shores of our harbour and Seven Mile Beach.

We’re attracting many cruise ships that offer cheaper trips, attracting visitors with not much disposable income in their pockets when they reach our shores.

The writers even note that the ratio of tourist arrivals to Grand Cayman residents is greater in the Cayman Islands than any other Caribbean destination.

They called it tourist overkill.

And it is.

Residents dread the upcoming Christmas season, knowing they’ll have to fight tourists to get to shops on the waterfront and elsewhere.

But tourism is what we do.

The task faced by leaders in the tourism industry is to strike a balance between our bread and butter and our residents.

And things are happening.

We’ve introduced regulations to protect our marine life and more thought is being put on the dangers of human interaction with coral.

Yesterday the whole world was to celebrate World Responsible Tourism Day.

The idea behind the day is for all tourism stakeholders worldwide to come together to protect tourism sites everywhere.

The website about WRTD says it is ‘a chance to make a real difference that will keep our beaches clean, preserve our stunning scenery, save wildlife and glory in our historic buildings and precious heritage.

‘There is a responsibility too to help local people wherever they might be, provide them with shelter, jobs, clean water, food and education. Protect them from exploitation, corruption and deceit.’

It is up to all of us – residents, visitors and tourism leaders – to protect our land, water and people.

Many of our own tourism leaders are in London this week taking part in the World Travel Market.

There they are supposed to be sharing ideas about how to undertake responsible tourism initiatives.

We hope they come back to Cayman with some good, doable suggestions to make Grand Cayman viable for both tourists and residents.

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