Cayman Islands Tourism Association president Marc Langevin says he is optimistic that lines of communication between his organisation and the government are opening up.
Langevin previously has been critical of what he had described as a lack of communication from government officials about plans for the reopening of the borders and ways of sustaining the flailing tourism industry.
The CITA boss described a Wednesday, 10 Feb., meeting with various branches of government as a “milestone”, saying several issues of concern were covered, including how to communicate to the public, tour operators, airlines and travellers what protocols needed to be in place prior to border reopening.
Speaking on Rooster’s Cayman Crosstalk on 11 Feb., Langevin, who was elected CITA’s new president in November last year, said, “A lot of work has to be done on the marketing and communication of all those protocols, … such as what will testing of arriving visitors and residents look like when people return, how people will be transported, what kind of limitations, or not, will be in place in the first week or 10 days of their visit.”
He said CITA had been seeking a more open dialogue and collaboration with government “for months and months”.
While acknowledging that the global situation in regards to COVID-19 could well change in the coming months, as it’s an unpredictable issue, Langevin said that all Cayman can do at the moment is control what’s happening within its own borders, and prepare for as many eventualities as possible.
Langevin, who is general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, said his hotel has been receiving many overseas calls from tourists seeking to come to the island, and was 80% booked for this Christmas. “They want to come, they are knocking at the door; we just need to open the door,” he said.
However, he stated that the tourism industry, while eager to restart operations, was aware of the risks involved and was not pushing for a hasty reopening of the borders, but for a well-thought-out plan that prepared for the eventual reopening.
“If we don’t take the steps to lead gradually to there, we won’t get there,” he said.
In the meantime, he suggested that reallocating resources of people who worked most with cruise ship passengers may be needed to keep them afloat, such as using buses, taxis or boats to take stayover visitors to the eastern districts and expanding attractions there.
The ongoing vaccination of Cayman Islands residents, and the inoculation programmes overseas, means it’s likely there will be a “huge change” in Cayman in the coming months, Langevin said.
“We are going to keep on trying to adapt to new situations and look at what the rest of the world is doing,” he said, adding that as vaccinations ramp up and the number of new COVID cases drops in the UK and US, that will affect existing protocols for incoming visitors.