Prepare to weigh anchor, Cayman: We are about to embark upon another banner season for our tourism industry.
Compared to last year, there’s no turbulence in our air arrivals forecast, and cruise numbers are up significantly. Our market fundamentals are healthy, our reputation is strong, and we can expect to perform even better as our country expands its capacity to take in and accommodate visitors.
To summarize some good news:
The Cayman Islands was recently featured on the top 20 list of the world’s best islands in Condé Nast Traveler’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards survey.
The magazine’s readers also showed love for individual local resorts, including Cayman Brac’s Le Soleil d’Or (voted second best in the Caribbean, 34th in the world), The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman (14th best in the Caribbean), and The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach (39th best in the Caribbean).
Although the survey is far from scientific, what is important is not the order in which Cayman appears on any list; it’s that Cayman is consistently acknowledged as one of the premier luxury tourism destinations anywhere.
You can safely bet that next year’s editions of “best of” and “readers’ choice” rankings will be graced by the freshest face on Cayman’s tourism scene: the much-anticipated Kimpton Seafire Resort, which is set to open to guests this month.
Representing the Dart Group’s grand entrance into the hospitality sector, the Kimpton will host its official “coming out party” this weekend at the 2016 YCLA gala celebration. (Let us at this time congratulate the five finalists, Alexandra Bodden, Shena Ebanks, Tedrick Green, Kristina Maxwell and Brianna Ebanks, for their accomplishments.)
As has been observed on numerous occasions, a limiting factor of Cayman’s stay-over tourism market is the availability of accommodations for visitors. The opening of the Kimpton — and also the “renovation and reopening” of the new Margaritaville Resort (at the former Treasure Island property), scheduled for December — will add hundreds of rooms to Cayman’s hotel inventory.*
In the longer run, we look forward to the construction of other new projects, such as the Ironwood golf resort, as well as the continuing growth of Cayman’s medical tourism venture, Health City Cayman Islands.
With the expected increase in places to go while in Cayman, we must ensure that we are able to facilitate the correlative increase in visitors arriving in Cayman. On that note, the expansion to Grand Cayman’s Owen Roberts International Airport appears to be humming along (and buzzing, and clanging, and hammering …). Everyone who’s been to or through the airport in recent weeks is well aware that the place looks like — actually is — a construction zone. Yes, the airport is a “work in progress” — but we choose to emphasize the word “progress.”
But for now, let’s dig into our closets and dust off the eye patches, bandanas and cutlasses, as Pirates Week kicks off this weekend in Little Cayman, before the festivities hit Grand Cayman starting Nov. 10. We look forward to the annual invasion of visiting buccaneers, and we extend an equally hearty welcome to all of our incoming tourists during this winter season.
*Editor’s Note: This story has been updated from the original.*