Cayman’s tourism leaders believe the island could see around 25% of visitors return by Easter of next year – if the right policies are put in place.
The new Cayman Islands Tourism Association board is hoping the island will be seeing half as many tourists as it did in the record-breaking year of 2019 by summer and 75% of that volume by the time high-season kicks in around Thanksgiving.
Outlining the ambitious targets in a press release Monday, the association’s new president Marc Langevin said a low-risk reopening should be an urgent priority.
“If we want to have a chance at a reasonable level of business by the end of 2021, the vision of a progressive path, and hope for the achievement of key milestones of success needs to be created,” said Langevin, also general manager of the Ritz Carlton resort.
“With the introduction of the vaccine, combined with additional layered protocols for testing, tracing and monitoring measures, risks can be mitigated for the general public and stay-over visitations resume without compromising our enviable quality of life.”
The CITA board indicates in the press release that it has reviewed the best practices from other Caribbean destinations and believes there are “well-tested protocols” that Cayman could use in safely reopening the borders.
Dr. Michael Tibbetts, vice president of the association, said, “We have a duty to first and foremost protect our community and employees from the spread of COVID-19.
“However, we know that the virus will not be eradicated from the planet in the foreseeable future, so we need to develop a data-driven approach that balances risk reduction with a logistically feasible strategy that allows visitors to return to Cayman.”
The release also emphasized the economic impact of the border closure and the nine-month absence of tourism on the industry.
Highlighting the issues faced by those whose businesses and ability to look after their families have been impacted, it cites the concerns of Crystal Cave manager Mikol Watler.
“Obviously, I’m not making any income and I have a wife and a child that I need to support. I’m going deeper and deeper into a hole and it’s been really hard. I want to know what we can do to reopen tourism,” Watler said.
The board indicates it wants open and transparent communication with the community and government and is looking forward to working with officials to collaboratively develop and implement protocols for testing, health monitoring, operating, tracing, isolation and vaccination so the borders can safely reopen in 2021.