Today’s Editorial December 18: Tourism important more than ever

Optimism is riding high that our high tourist season will be a good one.

From the sightings of all the white licence plates on vehicles on our roadways it would appear that visitors the Cayman Islands are still making their way here, despite the downturn in the global economy.

That’s good, because tourism is the second major industry that puts money in our coffers. The financial industry is the first.

The unfortunate thing is that those in the tourism industry aren’t able this year to prognosticate past January.

Ours is the perfect destination to celebrate Christmas and the beginning of a New Year, especially for those who live in the colder climes of the north.

While the Cayman Islands is feeling the pinch of the economic downturn, it hasn’t hit us full force; not yet.

It may be that come February potential visitors to the Cayman Islands will be feeling their pocketbooks too pinched to make travel plans abroad.

That’s why it is so important the those with the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, the Ministry of Tourism and the Tourism Department do all they can to re-jig and tweak their household income target markets.

While middle and lower income travellers will probably make a decision to stay home, the more affluent traveller will take time away from work to holiday with his or her family.

It’s another reason we believe the berthing facility should be put on hold. Cruise ship travellers are not the more affluent; stayover guests are.

We have to look carefully at whom we are targeting and their ability to leave copious amounts of money in our coffers before they leave. Cruise ship passengers, on an average, leave behind little more than $50 a person. It’s a good bet that figure is going to be reduced as the economy continues to waffle.

The Cayman Islands relies heavily on the United States to provide us with tourists. That’s the country where the economy appears to be hurting worse.

Efforts are being made to woo visitors from Europe, but the US is always going to be the place where a majority of our visitors come from because of the proximity of the Cayman Islands to that country.

It is hoped that the reinstituted Cayman Airways service from Chicago and the newly opened Washington, DC, route will lure more stayover visitors to our shores.

Hopefully they will bring much disposable income with them to leave here.

Times are tough economically all over. Let’s hold our breath and say a prayer that we don’t become again the Islands that Time (and money) forgot.

Ours is the perfect destination to celebrate Christmas and the beginning of a New Year, especially for those who live in the colder climes of the north.

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