Recent reports in the British media indicate that package deals to the Caribbean have been slashed by up to 50 per cent.
According to Caribbean Tourism Organisation chief Hugh Riley, this is due to the region taking steps to remain competitive and pressure on Caribbean destinations. The Air Passenger Duty, he said, is also increasing charges, which has led to a decrease in bookings by 12 per cent between 2009 and 2010.
However, the Cayman Islands is not subject to the phenomenon, explained Cline Glidden, chairman of the Ministerial Council for Tourism.
“Given that roughly 80 per cent of the Cayman Islands tourism business hails from the USA and the fact that our tourism model is not targeted toward a mass market/mass number scenario, the [reported] slashing of costs by tour operator and hoteliers… does little to stimulate travel from the UK to the Cayman Islands. “
Mr. Glidden said that in the case of the European market, Cayman is served by one direct service, which is operated by British Airways four times a week.
“As this route is operated essentially without competition from other carriers, British Airways controls the pricing very carefully and rarely offers discounts to Grand Cayman. It is only during their ‘World Offers’ promotions which typically have short booking windows that the Cayman Islands is able to benefit from any real reduction on the normal airfares for this route.”
Additionally, said Don McDougall, the country manager in the Department of Tourism’s UK office, margins for room-only pricing for those properties which do work tactically in support of UK sales does not leave much scope for discounting.
“As such, it cannot be compared to the all inclusive deals that are being touted where the original mark up is quite considerable. To put this into perspective, the discounts referenced… are predominantly led by charter based destinations and all-inclusive accommodation combinations. Virgin Holidays, for example, is currently promoting a discount based campaign where they have a considerable commitment and inventory of scheduled air seats to the Caribbean, and therefore they target the UK leisure market very heavily.”