EDITORIAL – Welcoming the world to Cayman

Cayman did not simply break its previous record for airplane arrivals in the first quarter of this year – it shattered them, putting us on pace for a fifth straight record-breaking year.

As the Compass reports in today’s newspaper, air arrivals from January through March leaped to 134,170 visitors. That is 20 percent over the same quarter in 2017 – a figure that must be particularly pleasing to our islands’ hoteliers, who are reporting occupancy rates of 80-90 percent capacity, with no slowdown in sight.

The direct impact to our economy is undeniable; a Department of Tourism analysis estimated the collective spending of stay-over tourists last year to be around $485 million – money that directly benefits our tourist and hospitality sector, and each of us through secondary spending and funding of government services.

For “indirect beneficiaries” outside the hospitality industry, it can be easy to dwell on minor irritants. But one need only imagine the alternative – empty streets, empty hotel rooms and empty pockets – to regain perspective.

No matter our profession, we all can help make guests’ visits memorable – and worthy of an encore. A friendly smile, a helpful set of directions, a clean and inviting streetscape (and – crossing our fingers – a safe cab ride at a fair rate) all help create an image of Cayman that we can be proud to share with the world.

Cayman’s record-breaking tourism figures may have been helped, in part, by other Caribbean islands’ misfortune, as visitors have rerouted trips from hurricane-affected destinations.

But we expect that once they have availed themselves of Cayman’s beautiful beaches, exquisite culinary offerings and warm hospitality, many of today’s new visitors will become familiar faces in years to come.

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  1. Sadly, I think your final paragraph is wishful thinking. It’s more likely that once they discover how expensive everything is when compared to other destinations in the region the reaction will be more like ‘never again’. Make the most of this boom while it lasts because one of the problems these islands has to overcome to keep this kind of trend going is a reputation for offering very poor value for money in comparison with our regional competitors.

    If you look through TripAdvisor you’ll find quite a few comments like this, ‘Grand Cayman in general is really expensive so you will end up spending a fortune’, and that’s not good news. The other thing you find by searching online is that, despite these ‘record’ arrival figures, there was (and still is) plenty of accomodation on offer – it makes you wonder where they’re all staying doesn’t it?

  2. I concur with the previous gentleman’s comments. Yes, as other islands recover, Caymans could see a 30% decline in visitors. What is more ludicrous, is the Cayman currency having a perpetual 20% increase over the US dollar. This is just outrageous. The currency for all intensive purposes does not fluctuate, and there is no basis what so ever to substantiate a 20% premium.
    This little wink and a nod type of deal that was blessed quietly by the US many years ago, should simply be disposed of. If the US government wanted to flex a bit, it could easily place embargos, restrict travel, and cut aid in many ways. Reciprocity currently exists between both governments, however the Caymanian district officials should be proactive, and stop this disparity, if they want to see real sustainable growth. When the global economy sinks again, so will the Cayman Islands. They tend to be lagging economic indicators, and stay hurt for many years after others recover.
    It is true, there is no value in the Cayman Islands, and most tourists are treated poorly. There is a strong, overwhelming ambivalence, and a feeling of resentment from the locals towards visitors. Hence, the word EX_PAT. But that is another story in itself.

  3. Being right in the middle of the prime tourist area, The Dump won’t be able to remain “hidden” for much longer. With each new visitor, by sea or plane, it grows larger and more dangerous. The entire SMB area is within a three-mile radius of The Dump.

    Health-conscious visitors would want to stay away from the gasses emitted by The Dump’s rotting rubbish. Exposure to it would be considered a hidden travel risk in Grand Cayman.
    Once visitors realize that, one can kiss good bye to the record-breaking tourism figures.

    And still NOTHING is being done to address it.

    If the public registers issue could destroy Cayman’s financial sector, it would be the open air dump(s) that would destroy Cayman’s tourism.