Be grateful for cruisers

Over a period of time, I have read letters with some negative statements in the newspapers in regards to the cruise ship tourists.

I feel it is time that someone write one in defence and reveal some history of what tourism means to Cayman today.

What I write is with much gratitude and humility for the blessings of God to us here in the Cayman Islands. Many folks do not know where we are coming from and some of the struggles that brought us to the prosperity and lifestyle we have been enjoying over the years. Without knowledge, many go astray and make harsh judgment. In the early 1940s there were a few small hotels in Grand Cayman and things were very slow at that time. In the early 60s my late husband, Norberg, and I had six villas, Winter Haven Homes, built as the second such accommodations for the tourism market. We were successful in getting them filled almost immediately. Besides the few tourists that we had, most people worldwide had never heard about this place. It took many years and much advertising by travel agents, the private sector and Government and thousands of dollars to put us on the map.

In later years, cruise ships started stopping in the George Town Harbour. This was not on a regular basis but it was good to see that we were getting known more and more by the outside world – ‘the Islands that time forgot’.

Little by little, foreign investors along with a few Caymanians ventured to do development. My husband, Norberg, was always seeking ways to help to develop and assist in the areas most needed in the place he dearly loved that he called home. Ever since we started in the tourist accommodations industry, we tried to develop areas that helped to make Grand Cayman more convenient and comfortable for the tourists as well as locals.

We have been involved in the tourism industry since the early 1960s to the present. One of our projects was The Grand Pavilion Hotel, with 99 rooms, which provided five star services for several years. The Reef Resort, on the lovely East End beach with 166 rooms, also provides tourists with service that brings them back time after time. And why many of these guests have booked to spend time at these resorts and the other resorts on our Islands?

They first came here on cruise ships! Cruise ships are responsible for the development of most of the resorts here because many of the tourists that come to our Islands as stayover guests first came here by cruise ship. Many, many cruise ship passengers have said that not only did the beauty of the Island attract them, but also the friendliness of the people here. With the influx of tourists returning as stay over guests, more accommodations were needed. We should be happy for this and hope that this will improve more and more every day.

Now, do you think the cruise ships and all the thousands of tourists that line our shores and leave thousands of dollars every time they dock are destroying our Island? If they are, it’s only minimal damage and we have to give some to receive much and this industry is a great contribution to the lifestyle that we all have become accustomed to in these beautiful Islands. I’m proud to be a born Caymanian who saw the poor times that our people endured and how the Lord has blessed us by prospering us so bountifully.

A warning! You know times change, just look at the present world economy. We need to pray that the good Lord will let it be possible that the cruise ships and the other economic contributions will continue if it is pleasing to Him.

Otherwise, who knows what the future holds for us.

Let us be grateful to those who have helped in the development to these islands that ‘time forgot’. In God we should all trust!

Mary Thompson