CITA president outlines goals after re-election
Redevelopment of the cruise port and airport are crucial to ensuring the resurgence of tourism is maintained, according to Cayman Islands Tourism Association president Ken Hydes.
Mr. Hydes, re-elected as president of the tourism lobby group earlier this month, said training Caymanians to take advantage of opportunities in the industry was also a key priority for his second year at the helm.
With cruise arrivals set to reach record levels within the next two years and air arrivals already soaring, Mr. Hydes acknowledges it is a good time to be CITA president.
But he said it was vital that the island made the necessary improvements to its infrastructure to ensure that the visitor experience did not decline as numbers increase.
Complaints of overcrowding at the Owen Roberts International Airport and at Stingray City, the island’s premier tourist attraction, have grown in recent months.
And Mr. Hydes believes those kind of issues need to be dealt with to ensure tourists keep coming back.
“Right now is a really unique time. We are on the up. The indications are that we will maintain that positive trend. “But it is really a time to be vigilant and go the extra mile to ensure we put in place some of these initiatives and sort out some of these issues,” he said.
Mr. Hydes added that CITA and the government were “passionate” about finding solutions to the challenges caused by the boom in tourism numbers.
“I think we can handle the extra numbers, but there are some critical areas that need to be addressed, particularly the airport and the port.”
He hopes a clear process will be in place for the developments, both of which have been discussed for over a decade, by the end of his next year as CITA president.
Developing human capital is another key priority. As well as a new hospitality school due to launch at the University College of the Cayman Islands in September this year, the tourism association is working on an internship program with the National Workforce Development Agency and the Ministry of Employment.
Mr. Hydes wants to see a closer link between the industry and Caymanian students to ensure they have the experience to move straight into jobs in tourism once they graduate. He said on-the-job experience through summer work, would be part of the process.
“There’s no reason why someone going away to do a degree in culinary arts should come home and spend seven months looking for a job when we have large international hotels and restaurants here that need people,” he said. “We need to refine the process so they have the experience and the skills when they come back to get these jobs. It should almost be a situation where there is a bidding war for these people.”
Equipping and training Caymanians to be more involved in the tourism industry was fundamental to improving the tourism product, he said.
Mr. Hydes added, “If someone said to me at the end of your presidency what would make you feel like you have achieved your personal goals? “It would be to have established a process that results in more people identifying tourism and hospitality as a career path and a passion. If we get that right the other pieces of the puzzle will fall into place.”
Vice president Steven Hayes, secretary Tim Adam, treasurer Nigel Mitten and immediate past president Harry Lalli form the rest of the CITA board for the coming year.