Cayman woos dive industry

Cayman will be represented at a
major diving industry show in London this month.

The London International Dive Show
is considered to be one of the key industry exhibitions in the United Kingdom
alongside February’s Scuba Show and the Birmingham International Dive Show each
October, explained Don McDougall, UK country manager (Europe) for the Cayman
Islands Department of Tourism.

“We believe that it is important
for Cayman to be represented at each of these events although we also
appreciate that there are more potential dive holiday clients in the market
than the numbers who go to these three shows combined. So the shows are
important, but just one component of our dive marketing.”
He added that the strategy also includes sponsorship of the British Sub-Aqua
Club, appearing at their regional and national events and being involved in
their membership communications, plus an active sales programme visiting dive
shops and clubs.

“[In March] one of our team hosted
an evening for 50 members of a dive club in Nottingham and she was joined by
Nadia Hardie from Sunshine Suites who was also in the UK for Unite Caribbean
[an annual UK promotional tradeshow],” said Mr. McDougall.

Specialist tour operator programmes
and awareness raising to travel agents is also a part of strategy, with a
specialist dive module in the online agents’ training programme hosted by
Travel Uni. The Kittiwake sinking has doubled Cayman’s presence in the dive

“We frequently organise radio blitz
where we use a central London studio to conduct down the line interviews with
anything up to 20 regional radio stations across the UK in one day and diving
is often the subject of our interviews. We used Kittiwake for one blitz and for
another blitz we had Lawson Wood over to talk about his book, Shipwrecks of the
Cayman Islands.

“…we have recently worked with
Buceadores magazine in Spain to print and insert a Spanish language pocket
guide of the Cayman Islands into one of their monthly issues. They also
translated the same into Italian for us and we had 3,000 run-ons of each
version for fulfilment at the dive shows in Italy and Spain.”


Kittiwake big news

At the London International Dive
Show, the tourism department will hand out flyers from various dive businesses
from Cayman, although this year none are physically visiting London for the
show. And while the presence is not themed, one particular ship continues to
draw attention.

“The Kittiwake is still the big
news as we have been presenting it at dive shows for the past three years. So
now that she is down, we can now offer actual packages to dive it. Our
exhibition stand is usually very busy and with two to three staff on hand, it
is common that each one of us is talking with show visitors mostly all day.”

Ultimately, being able to speak
directly with the industry has paid off in the past for exhibitors.

“At the Birmingham Dive Show in
October we were joined by Sunset House and they generated interest and
converted bookings as a result. The Aggressor tends to exhibit adjacent to us
at most of the European dive shows, so I guess that they also see a good return
on investment,” said Mr. McDougall.

Since January, the Cayman Islands
Department of Tourism (Europe) has been represented at nine trade shows, dive
shows and business to business/business to consumer fairs and events.

“[The first quarter] is always the
busiest for shows because this is the planning season for tour operators’
programmes for the following year’s brochure production and it is also the peak
decision making time and booking time for consumers’ travel plans for the
current year,” said the tourism professional.


  1. Sadly, LIDS is pretty much a dead loss.

    I have lost count of the major dive retailers in the UK who have dropped out of this exhibition in recent years.

    As has already been posted this is a waste of resources while there is still no sensibly-priced accommodation and/or package holidays available from Europe to the Cayman Islands. Solve that problem then everything else will fall into place.

    I think it is way overdue for the Auditor General to take a long hard look at how DoT is throwing away public money on overseas stunts when the root of the is based on their own doorstep.

    DoT need to be talking to the hotels and the major players in the package holiday market – if they aint doing that then someone isnt doing their job.

    One of the things that must be killing the tourist trade is the 15% plus 10% surcharge/tax that gets added to the already high room rates. Do something about that before throwing more money on promos.

    And if that doesnt get the message across try this -I can (despite the current problems in Egypt) get a two-week all-inclusive package at a Red Sea resort for less than the cost of the return flights from the UK to Grand Cayman and two weeks in the Maldives currently costs me about the same as 10-days on Grand Cayman. And that still leaves Cuba, Grenada and bunch of other reasonably-priced locations that just put Cayman into the unaffordable end of peoples budgets.

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