Cruise conference sees Cayman delegation

Cayman Islands’ tourism officials have returned from the 2009 Seatrade Cruise Shipping Conference with renewed resolve to strengthen and secure Cayman’s position as a preferred cruise destination.

A press release states that during the week-long conference in Miami, the Cayman Islands delegation, led by the Ministry of Tourism’s Chief Officer, Gloria McField-Nixon and Acting Director of Tourism, Shomari Scott; along with staff from the MoT and DoT, used the gathering as an opportunity to enhance key relationships with influential tourism leaders and push the Cayman Islands as a desired cruise destination.

‘This year’s Seatrade Conference highlighted more prominently the rapid growth of competition in the global cruise sector and more relevant to the Cayman Islands, the growth in the Caribbean and Latin American cruise competition,’ said Mrs. McField-Nixon.

‘The Cayman Islands is a mature cruise destination and like all mature products looking to maintain market share, we need to keep current with industry standards including proper infrastructure and continue to diversify our offerings given our high level of repeat visitors.’

While at the conference, the Cayman delegates attended sessions on a variety of topics including: matching shore attractions to changing consumer tastes; The state of the cruise industry; Upscale cruise market; A new geography for the cruise industry; Sustainability – how the cruise industry is approaching the environmental challenges it faces.

Additionally, the group took time to meet with cruise line representatives to enable the executives the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the Cayman Islands tourism product as well as to maintain a business relationship with the cruise lines.

The delegates also met with Business Research & Economic Advisors representative, Andrew Moody, who is conducting a Cruise Economic Impact Study for the Caribbean. Through BREA’s research the department will receive updates on trends regarding cruise visitor expenditures in the Cayman Islands, gain feedback on their visits – their likes, dislikes and intent to return as a stay-over guest – and compare those findings with other countries in the region. Results of this study will not be made available until the FCCA Conference in October 2009.

However, Mr. Moody did confirm that the Cayman Islands appeared to be on the right track.

‘Cruise tourism is a critical component of the tourism product mix and we plan to apply the information learned to build upon and improve our standing so that Cayman continues to be at the helm,’ said Shomari Scott, Acting Director of Tourism.

‘The current economic crisis is an opportunity for us to work on improving the experience our cruise guests have when on island so that they return for a longer vacation,’ continued Mr. Scott. ‘Research has shown that people want to travel to destinations that offer a variety of authentic, high quality activities in a clean, safe and attractive setting. So by enhancing the guest experience at the cruise terminals and George Town itself, as well as the quality of shore excursions offered, we will be in a better position to convert cruise passengers to stayover guests.

‘Close collaboration with industry partners such as the FCCA, CITA, ACT, Chamber of Commerce and the Port Authority is key to continued success in this industry.’

The 2009 Seatrade Cruise Shipping Conference drew more than 11,000 visitors from 117 countries and the trade show floor showcased almost 1,000 exhibiting companies. The three-day exhibition and four-day conference attracted more than 1,200 cruise line executives to the event.