Caymans cruise tourism resilient

Private and public sectors work to improve sector

When Cayman’s cruise tourism sector emerges from the global economic downturn, the destination will benefit from cruise related businesses which have become more efficient because of the downturn.

This is one way that Cayman will demonstrate its resilience in the wake of the recession, according to Emma Graham-Taylor, the Director for Cruise and Vice President of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association.

Ms Graham-Taylor noted that the private sector in tourism in Cayman generally has had to be keenly focused on cutting its costs and increasing the standard of customer service and the number of smiles its staff deliver in the last nine months in order to remain in business and in order to win and keep business.

‘Everyone in the cruise business here has suffered for varying reasons – the economic climate, decreased cruise calls generally but also cruise calls fall dramatically in the summer months anyway, and to varying degrees.

‘However Cayman is resilient and this has given us an opportunity to either perfect the service and goods we deliver or face going out of business and I think when we come out of this recession we will see that those that are still standing are leaner and more efficient operations that are delivering a far higher standard of product and service than ever before and this will be a huge help to Cayman.’

In fact, the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association is encouraging tourism industry stakeholders to view the current economic crisis as an opportunity to be at the forefront of the recovery when it comes.

Speaking ahead of the association’s annual cruise convention and trade show to be held in St. Lucia next month, Michele Paige, president of the trade association, said, ‘In times of an economic downturn, those that remain aggressively in the forefront of the marketplace are those who are best positioned to prosper as our economy recovers.’

Ms Graham-Taylor said that the new Government has also been very quick to act in building relationships with Cayman’s cruise line partners and reaching out to them to work with them more effectively will only help in the short and long term.

‘These relationships are incredibly valuable and for the efforts of the Government in this area we are grateful.’

Founding member of the Association for the Advancement of Cruise Tourism Brynley Davies said that responding to the needs of the cruise market is a mixture of ensuring that the right long term infrastructure is in place as well as focusing on the shorter term needs of visitor satisfaction.

‘It is good to see Cayman beginning to focus on the infrastructure issue with a realisation that without a cruise berthing facility it will be difficult to grow our business and develop our relationships with the cruise industry.’

He said that ACT welcomes the approach of the Chairman of the Board of the Port Authority Stefan Baraud’s approach in listening to the private sector’s views and his willingness to work in partnership with the private sector to increase the number of cruise tourists that Cayman attracts and to better the cruise visitor’s experience at the port itself.

‘Overall there is more of a realisation that there is now a higher level of competition amongst the regions’ ports for cruise visitors and that Cayman needs to work harder if it wishes to remain successful. It has been good to see the government move quickly to improve the working relationships with the cruise lines and the FCCA,’ Mr. Davies said.

Ms Graham-Taylor said that the CITA is also uplifted by the spirit of collaboration that the recession has brought. ‘It is great to see the public and private sectors coming together in a meaningful way to work on improvements to not only the infrastructure of the cruise berthing facility but also to improving the overall experience and atmosphere experienced by cruise guests to Cayman.’

She added that the pressure and momentum must be kept up as competition in the region is also working hard to ensure that they remain competitive. ‘If we do this then the future for Cayman and cruise tourism will be a bright one.’

Admitting that the cruise sector had not been as badly affected as other sectors in the industry, Ms Paige said ‘the future is our friend’ and that the St. Lucia cruise conference, to be held from 26 to 30 October, was a critical opportunity for players in the Caribbean and global tourism industry to ‘step up their game’.