Businesses that rely on cruise have taken a hit, but there is still too much uncertainty in the industry to say what the future holds. Photo: James Whittaker

Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said government is focussing primarily on stayover tourism right now, partially out of necessity.

Cruise tourism is still banned by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and there is no clarity on when the industry will resume and what it will look like.

Moses Kirkconnell

Until Cayman has a clearer idea of how many ships the major cruise lines will put back into circulation in the Caribbean, what the passenger loads are likely to be and what routes would be operating, Kirkconnell said it was difficult to put together a plan for the future of cruise tourism. “A year ago, we never thought we could experience anything like this,” he said.

“We did everything we could from the time we woke up to the time we went to bed to create opportunity for the 4,000 people, including more than 2,000 Caymanians, that were working in cruise. Now the guidelines of what the responsibility of the government is, has changed.”

Which Way Now For Cruise Tourism?

Longer term, he said, there was still considerable doubt about what a post-COVID cruise industry will look like.

He said tender operators and tour boats would likely have to charge more to compensate for the necessary reduction in passengers to enable social distancing. Though government has abandoned the pier project, questions remain over the willingness of the cruise lines to use tender services and if their COVID protocols will even allow for that.

On the plus side, he said, it was possible that the dynamics of the industry would change – meaning smaller passenger loads, higher prices and more affluent customers.

“There is going to be an opportunity there because of the attractiveness of the western Caribbean route, but we won’t know what that opportunity is going to be until we see what the cruise lines are going to be able to do based on the public-health guidelines, based on social distancing, based on how many people they can bring and what they are going to charge.”

In the meantime, he said, the Ministry of Tourism’s focus was on reskilling and retraining those left without jobs amid the decline of cruise tourism, to work either in stayover – which is expected to come back sooner – or in other areas of the economy.

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  1. While I appreciate there is a focus on some kind of tourism. I’d love to be able to travel to Cayman to spend a period of time at my home.

    While last weeks border closing continuance is certainly disappointing, I can understand it. However, it also shows there is not a real plan penciled to open borders. Home owners are a great example of stayover traffic, however you are limiting travel to private jets and yachts. I’d suspect the majority of property owners do not travel by either of these means. The bio-button strategy was not flawless, but it was certainly something I was comfortable with, till I was totally cleared for freedom of movement.

    It seems, once the States deemed Cayman as a location that should be classified as a travel restricted location, 24hrs later, the Border closing announcement was made (stinks like politics).

    It would certainly be great if we could get some kind of direction by Government as to when you will accept homeowners back. It would certainly offer a bit of a financial bump to all of Cayman and allows Cayman to secure the soft opening policies needed to help scale.

    I suspect a many large Corporation(s) (Dart, etc) DO NOT want to miss the Holiday Season bookings they are looking forward to, to lift their bottom lines. Commercial airlines are the only way Cayman will fill the rooms and restaurants come the winter season. What are the plans to allow flights into the islands, will it be direct, say from Canada, EU,UK etc will it be direct from Miami via Cayman Air (which is a vulnerability all by itself).

    I wait with great patience to returning back to Cayman, I look forward to visiting my favourite locations and immersing myself back into the Cayman lifestyle.

  2. We should be making immediate efforts to help non-resident property owners return to Cayman. Not by forcing them to stay in the Holiday Inn for two weeks at a cost of over $2,000per head or in the Ritz Carlton for some $20,000 per head but in their own homes.

    This should be supervised by a Caymanian, employed by the government but at the expense of the property owner. The amount charged should recover all the costs. That person should also get their groceries etc.

    Our retail store and restaurants desperately need more people here who will spend money without taking a job from a local.

    Most importantly: How can we expect overseas people to invest in our very expensive homes if we put up barriers to prevent them using them?

    Of course any potential arrival should be tested before they leave home and when they arrive. Also at random times during their 2 week quarantine period.

  3. Me and all my fellow property owners would love to come back to Cayman. Many of us have businesses and obligations to attend to so a strict confinement of location would not be suitable. I can only peel away for approximately 10 to 14 days at a time and to spend all of that time at my residence with no outside activity: no walks on the beach, no swimming, no diving, and possibly no cooking on the grill outside. No thanks. Folks like me will just have to wait.

    My biggest fear is that with no plan in place and moving the goal post – we may not be able to come back until next summer. Or worse longer. I see New Zealand just had a new case after 102 days of negative tests. Can’t wait until the winter flu season kicks and isolated flair ups start to happen – I get depressed just thinking about.

    Really miss Cayman – I would have had completed 2 trips at this point and eagerly waiting for my third trip in November.