Tourism body looks ahead

The chairman of the
newly-reactivated Tourism Advisory Council is looking forward to addressing the
challenges ahead.

Karie Bergstrom has been involved
with the local tourism industry for 25 years, having grown up at the original
Tortuga Club in East End. She later served as both a director of the board of
the Cayman Islands Tourism Association and was subsequently president of that
organisation between 2005 and 2008.

Ms Bergstrom told the Caymanian
Compass that having served on the Tourism Advisory Council in the past she was
proud to have been asked to serve as chairman this time around.

“I have a true passion to make sure
that the tourism industry survives and that we’re able to come together as a
collective group to address some of the challenges that the industry has been
facing. [There are] current challenges but also challenges that we have been
facing for a number of years.

“We’ve got falling numbers both for
cruise and air arrivals. Everyone is feeling the pinch; the cost of doing
business has increased and that doesn’t bode well for the survival of some of
our partners because [with] higher costs and lower revenue the picture is
clear,” she said.

The Tourism Advisory Council has
been enshrined in law since 1995. It can advise the Minister of Tourism on
challenges that the industry faces plus offer ideas and initiatives accordingly.

The council consists of private
sector members and the law states that no public servant can serve on the
council. It is comprised of representatives the following representatives from
a wide range of tourism sector businesses: Thomas McCallum; Daniel Szydlowski, Vassel
Johnson, Jr; Markus Mueri; Ivan Farrington; Robert Hamaty; Carson D. Ebanks; George
A. Walton (Sister Islands representative).

Ms Bergstrom said that she was
“very excited to work with the team.” She explained that the council will have
their first meeting within the next few weeks and that one of their first tasks
would be to establish the scope and framework of the council

“I think most people understand the
challenges that are out there. Number one is the survival of the industry and
number two is the survival of the businesses that make up that industry.

Her career has included the
management of several condominium properties on Seven Mile Beach and a small
hotel as well as working for Hyatt Regency Grand Cayman. She is currently a
director in the Deloitte consulting practice. Her father Eric was the first director
of tourism for the Cayman Islands and her
mother, Suzy Soto, developed the successful Cracked Conch restaurant.