We’re all tourism ambassadors

 It’s time for all readers of the Observer on Sunday to become ambassadors for the Cayman Islands right here at home.
   The Department of Tourism has launched an ambitious programme to turn cruise ship visitors into return stayover guests in Cayman.
   But to convince someone to return to our shores and spend some time with us, they have to be shown a pretty good time when they arrive here off a cruise ship.
   We all have to make sure that each and every cruise ship visitor has a great experience while in the Cayman Islands.
   That means showing our cruise ship visitors courtesy when they’re trying to manoeuvre through traffic at the harbour downtown.
   That means having patience while a group of cruisers stands in the middle of the road deciphering a map while you’re running late for your 11am appointment.
   That means being kind enough to politely answer visitors’ queries when they ask silly questions like ‘what time do the stores open at Stingray City?’
   If you venture downtown on a heavy cruise ship day it is possible to see that our visitors aren’t getting the best we have to offer. One particular outing had us face to face with an in-your-face tour operator trying to get us to buy passage to Seven Mile Beach. Maybe the strong armed tactic works in the country from which he hails, but we didn’t appreciate it and we doubt our visitors did either.
   It just goes to show that those who have a stake in the tourism industry and work with our visitors on a day-to-day basis must strive to ensure, also, that our cruise tourists have a pleasurable experience so that they will come back and be stayover guests, bringing with them much needed cash for our coffers.
   The ground transportation offerings downtown seem a little disorganised, which can cause confusion on the part of our visitors.
   The Cayman Islands isn’t the only jewel in the sea when it comes to a tourism destination in the Caribbean. We have some pretty stiff competition out there.
   That’s why it is imperative that we all work together to make sure our tourism product is the one visitors with disposable incomes choose.
   It is encouraging to note that of the cruise ship visitors questioned by the Observer on Sunday on whether they would come back, all said they would love to return for a longer stay. We need to capitalise on their enthusiasm.
   Good luck to the Department of Tourism and its Welcome Back programme. We hope it is a major success.
   The economic future of the Cayman Islands is dependent on giving our tourists an excellent experience and convincing them they can come back.