Majority polled say: Keep it pirate

An overwhelming majority of tourists surveyed said that Pirates Week should not change its name or focus, in a poll conducted by the Cayman Islands Tourist Association.

637 people were surveyed in the check-in area of Owen Roberts International Airport over the weekend of 19, 20 and 21 November. The exit poll was undertaken by CITA to provide a snapshot of the views of visitors who had been in Grand Cayman during the Pirates Week celebrations and who had been touched in some way by the festival.

When asked, ‘Should the pirate theme be removed and the name of the festival changed?’ 83 per cent of respondents said that it should not; only 4 per cent were in favour of a change of name or focus and 13 per cent were undecided. The survey also collected comments from the participants.

‘Why change a name that works?’ asked one visitor from the United States, with other remarks including ‘It’s part of the history’ and ‘Keep the pirates’ parade – why change a good thing?’

Nearly half of those completing a survey (48 per cent) had ‘directly participated’ in Pirates Week, and 21 per cent of the total said that they had visited the Islands specifically for the festival.

Condos were the favoured place to stay (45 per cent) closely followed by 37 per cent who booked into hotels. The remainder stayed with friends and family (15 per cent) with 3 per cent finding other accommodation.

Comments that were collected in the anonymous survey also indicated that some visitors found the food ‘overpriced’, but that the fireworks were ‘excellent.’ The turtle release at Public Beach also proved popular with visitors keen to see another side of what Cayman had to offer.

In July a group was set up on Facebook called Save Pirates Week. To date it has 2,238 members who are keen to have their say on the community festival that has been a popular feature of the Cayman calendar for 33 years.

Earlier this year now-Premier McKeeva Bush indicated that the name and focus of the festival would be altered in a rebranding that was felt necessary to move the festival away from the murkier connotations of piracy.

‘While Hollywood may have made piracy into family entertainment through the recent success of its Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, piracy is not just associated with entertainment or activities of the past,’ Mr. Bush said at the time. ‘It’s still a very real threat today.’

Mooted new themes included Heritage Week and potential competitions to name a brand-new festival. It has become a recurring discussion amongst all sectors of the community.

The CITA poll is the first survey of visitors to be publicly released that specifically addresses question of whether the name should be changed.

A separate survey of visitors and residents was also undertaken by the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism during Pirates Week, the results of which are currently being analysed by the DoT, the results of which have yet to be announced.