Year in review: Tourism regroups in year 2010

The Cayman Islands Tourism sector
underwent a revamp during 2010, with local and international factors
significantly affecting the product following a difficult 2009.

 

Air and cruise

The air industry endured a tricky
time, with a mix of industrial action by British Airways cabin crews and the
rather less-avoidable volcanic eruption in Iceland severely disrupting flights.
Willie Walsh, chief executive of the beleaguered UK airline, later told the
Compass British Airways would not bring in bigger planes than the current
737-200 fleet as demand did not exist. He added that while carriers always
welcomed improved facilities and infrastructure, if it added taxes to tickets
it was not necessarily the wisest decision.

In November the 2010-formed
Ministerial Council for Tourism revealed that Cayman Airways flights would be
scheduled to link up with Europe-originating services on Virgin Atlantic
through Havana, Miami and Jamaica, adding another option for travellers.

The economic downturn was still
affecting downtown businesses, with Senor Frog’s restaurant and bar closing
permanently in May. A weather-affected cruise season had led to 68 cruises lost
or diverted.

More bad news for cruise business
looked on the horizon, with the announcement that there would be 26 per cent
fewer calls to Cayman during 2011. However, new companies Aida of Germany and
Happy Cruises of Spain debuted at Cayman toward the end of the year, as did a
cruise route originating in Panama, opening up intriguing market possibilities.

 

Events and cutbacks

Events began with the Taste of
Cayman and Cayman Cookout in January, two well-attended culinary events that
were scheduled on the same day. They were successful enough for organisers
Cayman Islands Tourism Association, Department of Tourism and Ritz-Carlton to
announce an expanded Culinary Month would occur 2011, with many new events to
be included. Pirates Week, too, was back, with a new impetus and a focus of the
past, the present and the future. Tourists, locals and interested visitors
participated in the 10-day festival across all three Islands.

But 2010 also said goodbye to Jazz
Fest, with The Compass revealing in September that the high-profile music bash
had been cancelled in 2010 as part of a set of government cutbacks. The 2009
event had cost $1.4 million, which was to be saved as part of DoT budget cuts
totalling $4 million. As part of those cuts, 12 tourism staff in the US also
lost their jobs, said Cline Glidden of the Ministerial Council.

“The Government’s current fiscal
challenges compel us to look for ways to do more with less,” Mr. Glidden said.
“The decision to restructure and lay off staff is always a difficult one to
make.”

It had been a theme for the year on
a wider level than tourism, or even the Cayman Islands, as the world caught its
breath and attempted to find a way out of a painful economic decline.

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Cayman Airways linked up with Virgin Atlantic flights to offer an alternative route to Europe.
Photo: File
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