Cayman is losing a popular tourist hot spot and weekend hangout for local boaters and residents, at least for now.
The famous Rum Point beach property in North Side saw its last day of operation on Sunday 3 Oct. The bar and restaurant had opened only on weekends since the end of the lockdown in July 2020.
Bill Edwards, controller at Red Sail Sports, said, “We stayed open primarily on weekends and public holidays, just to try and provide something for the people on the north side of the island to do.
“But it’s just gotten to the point where it’s just not worth it. It’s just negative numbers every month, so we can no longer do it.”
Like many other tourism-dependent businesses, the operators had been holding out for 14 Oct., when the next phase of the border reopening plan would have come into effect, including eliminating the need to quarantine for vaccinated travellers.
A recent spate of COVID cases in the community led government to delay the beginning of this phase until next year.
For Rum Point, which typically sees tourists during the week and stayover tourists and locals on the weekend, remaining open two out of every seven days never made economic sense.
In addition, the dock at Rum Point was damaged during Tropical Storm Grace, impeding weekend boat tours from the west side of Grand Cayman, which had supplemented the business’ income, owner Adrien Briggs said.
Rum Point had about 50 staff during tourism peak seasons, but had to reduce that to a skeleton crew of 10 part-time workers since the end of the lockdown in July 2020. About half are Caymanian.
The Red Sail Sports operation at Rum Point, which is entirely tourist-dependent, closed at the beginning of the pandemic. The Red Sail retail store, which remained open on weekends, will now close, too.
Rum Point will reopen when tourists return
But Rum Point has not shut down for good, Edwards said.
“Whenever we start to see the planes coming in with tourists, who don’t have to quarantine, and then life returns to whatever normal is going to be, we’ll be right back in the thick of it.”
It would take two to three months to rehire employees, spruce up the property and get it going again, he added.
However, Briggs does not think that when the borders reopen, the island is going to hit the accelerators very hard.
“I think most businesses are probably going to open very slowly, sort of baby steps,” he said. “The last thing you need is another spike in COVID. Then you have to shut the businesses down and you’re stuck with staff that is not being utilised.”
Industry veteran Briggs, who has seen some challenges in the tourism business in his time, said in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, for instance, there was light at the end of the tunnel.
After all the repairs were done, the island opened up for business again.
“In my opinion, this is the worst crisis I’ve ever seen the island in.”