Pirates Week is 11 days of revelry and heritage, bringing visitors to the shores of Cayman.
It also serves to remind landlubbers of the George Town area’s offerings in terms of restaurants, bars and shopping.
“Event tourism, especially historical events have proven to be successful for destinations. Events in Cayman provide a form of entertainment with activities and an opportunity to socialise for our locals and visitors,” said Jane van der Bol, executive director of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association.
“For Cayman, a long standing event like Pirates Week is a driver for economic growth and revitalisation, destination repositioning, local investment and tourism revenue.
“Annual events in the Cayman Islands raise the profile of our destination attracting tourists to our shores. Events help position the Cayman Islands in a global world,” she noted.
Steven Hayes of the Tropical Traders Restaurant Group, which owns Breezes by the Bay, added that his group has been an “avid sponsor” of the festival since the restaurant and bar opened in 2003.
“During the days when it is in downtown George Town, it helps to [reacquaint] people with the fact that there are beautiful restaurants, beautiful scenery and activities here for people to do; reasons to come downtown,” he said.
Breezes’ mojito nights take place every few months and as the latest one coincided with Cayman’s National Festival, the venue decided to put on a special Pirates Week event.
“There is also the upcoming steel pan event, the fireworks, the street dance, parade and landing. The view from Breezes by the Bay is the best George Town has of Hog Sty Bay, hands down,” Mr. Hayes said.
He added that a lot of individuals come to the events as families initially during the week, but there is a carry-over in the aftermath of the festival as people go back to work.
“For those people who are working downtown it [reminds them about] the waterfront and the gorgeous view, as well as what offerings we have [for lunch] here at Breezes.
“They realise they don’t have to worry about parking their car, they can stroll downtown instead to eat.”
Chris Redlund, general manager at Margaritaville Cayman, said that it was important to maximise the impact events such as Pirates Week can have on continuing to keep the venue in people’s minds.
“It impacts tremendously on business and is probably the biggest weekend for me. I capitalise more than other bars might but how can you possibly bring 2,000 people downtown and it does not impact you? It is a huge boon for business.
“When I took over a couple of years ago, we really stepped up to the plate with Pirates Week and each year we tweak things and make it bigger. We are on Facebook, Twitter and pass out flyers in hotels to show what we are doing and which events go on,” he said.
The Pirates Week effect continues all year, he said.
“There are signature events from a local standpoint where we do what we can to maximise our exposure: Pirates Week, Batabano and Taste of Cayman. Those are the three big ‘inroads’ into the local market where we do everything we can to show off what we can do.”
Mr. Redlund added that as a consequence of guests viewing the bar at events such as Pirates Week it had increased individuals’ understanding about the size and scope of Margaritaville. Bookings for corporate, personal events and parties had subsequently been received, he noted.
As well as the main events of Pirates Week, the festival also encompasses Heritage Days, in which each district takes a turn to show its history, music, food, culture and wares.
Jean-Eric Smith of the Cayman Craft Market noted that these events around the island presented a good opportunity for local artisans, artists and craftspeople to step forward and shine.
“Pirates Week was [initially] a marketing tool to get people to come here in the doldrums [of tourist season] and over the years expanded to incorporate the district heritage days, which then presented an opportunity to show our heritage during the week.
“The more opportunities to showcase our heritage [through local independent craftsmen and retailers] the better. It would be nice if the scope of the central Pirates Week activities had some heritage elements on display as well,” he commented.
Shomari Scott, director of the government’s Department of Tourism, said that the mix of culture and heritage attracts visitors. The elements of local flavours and artefacts of the districts during Heritage Days, for example, are popular.
“It is anticipated that retailers and other merchants in the respective areas would benefit economically from this influx as the sheer volume of people – visitors and residents – who attend the event or events are likely to have a positive impact on sales,” he told the Compass.