Tourism Association to vote for new leaders at AGM

The Cayman Islands Tourism Association will elect a new board of directors and possibly a new president at its annual general meeting on Wednesday.

Ken Hydes
Ken Hydes

Ken Hydes, who has led the association for the last two years said, at this point, he is unsure whether he will look to continue in the role.

“I think this is a good time for a transition,” he said.

“If there is a strong consensus that people want me to continue then I will have to do some soul searching, but there are some really solid people on the current board who I think could do a good job.”

Whomever takes the helm, Mr. Hydes, who will stay on as director with responsibility for cruise tourism, said the association’s focus should be on maintaining the momentum in the tourism industry and balancing growth with the quality of customer experience.

He said issues like the balance of amenities between cruise and stay-over visitors, long lines at the airport and concerns over crime, would continue to be challenges.

“We are in a position right now where we don’t have a chief immigration officer [and] we are looking for a new commissioner of police. I think filling these roles is going to be something that we see as a priority.

“They are obviously important roles in their own right, but from a tourism perspective, border control and policing are a key part of the customer experience.”

He said CITA’s relationship with government and other industry partners was better than it had ever been. With arrivals rising, new hotels on the horizon and the successful launch of the hospitality school, he believes the future for the industry is bright.

But he said the focus needed to be on ensuring the “guest experience” did not suffer as the number of tourists grows.

Sorting out issues like the recent complaints by condominium owners on Seven Mile Beach of unlicensed vendors peddling their wares to tourists will be paramount, he said.

“We are confident that the government is addressing the vendor situation at Public Beach.

“It is not about taking away people’s livelihood, but to have them operate within a structure where the quality of service and the guests best interests are maintained.”

The annual general meeting takes place Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Marriott.