Tourism arrivals have strengthened but with retailers staring down the barrel of a sparse upcoming summer and winter cruise season, the business model must change, tourism officials say.
Trina Christian of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association said that retailers among their membership have reported their intent to reach out to a wider market.
“Although the season has been busy, it has been short and big, which retailers can find difficult – ideally they would like it spread out more from the point of view of staffing and maintaining the business.
It can be difficult to keep up scale of business with a larger off-season, and the retailers are definitely concerned as the summer schedule is projected to be a shorter one.
“Some of the retailers are putting more effort into their stayover programme. They would like to accentuate the offering that they have because it’s not just cruise ship people who are attracted to the duty-free shopping. It perhaps presents an increased opportunity during slower times that hopefully we will see more stayover tourists go downtown and enjoy the shopping experience,” she said.
Raising this awareness of the shopping experience is part of the destination’s opportunity, she said.
“When people think of Cayman, they think of diving, which is a good thing, but it is important that we highlight what else Cayman has to offer. There is a positive shopping experience, a positive dining experience and other experiences that are interesting and fun.
“It’s not just diving and laying on the beach; it’s positive that we are known for something and it helps put Cayman on the map, but we need to highlight other assets we have in our product.”
A relatively new player on the cruise scene is Camana Bay, which has a team of Caymanian Ambassadors on the ground to interact with guests, enabling the town also to monitor tourist numbers, said Joanne Gammage, public relations manager.
“We work closely with hotels, condos and tour operators to raise awareness of Camana Bay as a place for visitors to come to for shopping, dining and to enjoy our many public spaces, such as the Observation Tower, Camana Way and The Crescent.
“We also recently introduced cultural activities and music on busy cruise ship days so that visitors can soak up a little bit of Caymanian culture and heritage while enjoying our other amenities.”