Rosa Harris steps up to key tourism role
Ensuring the Cayman Islands has the infrastructure and the services to cope as tourism numbers increase will be a key priority for the country over the coming years, says new Director of Tourism Rosa Harris.
Mrs. Harris, a seven-year veteran of the Department of Tourism, has taken over the top job after having served as acting director since the departure of Shomari Scott in December.
She said she is confident that tourism numbers – which have been on the increase for the past several years – would continue to rise.
But she insists it is essential that Cayman retains its reputation for quality – a key marketing tool for the DoT – as the crowds continue to grow.
She said the arrival of the Kimpton hotel, along with other planned hotel and condo developments in the eastern districts as well as the new cruise port, would help ensure numbers remain high.
“The future is very bright, but what is most important is that we collaborate with developers of the new properties to ensure we have the right overall product for our target market,” said Mrs. Harris, a graduate of Cornell University in the United States.
“We really have to make sure we have the right infrastructure and services for the visitors that will come.
“We have a quality product. That is what we are known for. We have to maintain that.”
Mrs. Harris, a former property manager at the Rum Point Club who started her hospitality career at the old Hyatt hotel, said quality is a key selling point for the Cayman Islands compared with rival destinations. She said it is essential that the islands do not lose sight of what makes them special.
One of the key challenges, she said, would be managing visitor expectations at the airport and cruise terminal while building work is ongoing to upgrade Grand Cayman’s two main points of entry.
She said she would work with the Cayman Islands Airports Authority, Immigration and Customs to ensure visitors get a good impression of the islands at the ports.
“One of the key jobs of the Department of Tourism is marketing the island to potential visitors. We also have to make sure that we do everything we can to ensure visitors have a wonderful experience when they are here because that leads to repeat visitation and word of mouth.”
Mrs. Harris said she would be busy over the next few weeks refining Cayman’s marketing strategy for 2015. She said the department is putting an increasing emphasis on digital advertising as well as direct marketing, which involves publicity stunts like the 3D artwork of Stingray City which is touring key target markets in the U.K. and U.S. in an effort to put the Cayman Islands in people’s minds when they make holiday decisions.
“Over the past five years we have gradually increased the focus on digital marketing. We have been praised for our innovation in this area and were recognized for our use of Instagram.”
Mrs. Harris has been with the DoT for seven-and-a-half years. She has worked her way up from a post as promotions and events manager to the top job. Mrs. Harris has a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a master’s in business administration from Manchester University.
Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said, “I am very pleased that such a qualified individual as Mrs. Harris has been identified for the role of Director of Tourism. During her tenure she has played an integral role in many of the department’s successful endeavours and continuously contributes to the betterment of our tourism product locally, while elevating our positioning globally as the destination of choice in the Caribbean.
“I look forward to the department continuing to thrive under Mrs. Harris’s leadership and wish her every success in this next phase of her career.”