DoT looks to gimmicks to shore up tourism business

| 20/02/2009

(CNS): With a challenging year ahead, the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism is turning to skateboard camps, free holidays for kids and romance to try and hold on to the islands’ share of the dwindling tourism market as the industry faces serious decline. Following a number of strategic meetings in Miami, the Minister of Tourism said that the department was doing all it could to mitigate the impact of the economic downturn.

Minster of Tourism Charles Clifford said he was cautiously optimistic that Cayman could weather the tough economic time, but it was important to develop strategies that were creative and keep monitoring the situation to ensure the Department of Tourism was doing everything it could to get a share of the existing market.

“One thing that came across loud and clear during the US meetings is that 2009 is ‘business not as usual’ and the events of the past few months have fundamentally changed our world. We are going to have to work harder than ever and be incredibly smart in our marketing decisions in order to maintain our position in these challenging times,” said Minister Clifford.

He explained that visitors from our primary market, the US, were still expected to take vacations but stay closer to home, which would be good for the Cayman Islands.

Acting Director of Tourism Shomari Scott explained that their would be a focus on family vacations, as marketing experts say that parents still want to try and spend on their children even if they spend less on themselves in a recession. As a destination that has always been family friendly, he said the department would be taking that further with a programme in which kids will get everything from flights to food free during their stay.

“This year the Cayman Summer Splash offer will match anything that any other destination can come up with, “ he said. “All kids coming to the Cayman Islands will get everything free – food, drinks, activities and even their flights."

He also said that the Black Pearl Skateboard Park was going to play a key role in the promotion of the islands this year. Cayman has the second largest skate park in the world and is attracting a lot of attention in the world of skateboarding, now one of the most popular past-times in the US, and Scott said the department intended to take advantage of that with Skate Cayman.

 “We are speaking to a number of professional boarders who can come down to Cayman and offer camps to coincide with the summer programmes, “ he said, adding that young Caymanian skaters would get a chance to get involved too but it was a potentially exciting diversification of the tourism product. “Statistics show that 20 million young people skate and it has eclipsed baseball amongst young Americans.” He said that camps were already being booked for the summer, with a church group coming very soon for a skate camp at the park in the next few weeks.

A wedding conference, ‘Something Blue’, is also planned for June to help boost Cayman’s already successful romance product. Scott said bringing a number of key professional planners designers and coordinators here for a conference to show them what we have could see them in turn promoting the destination to their clients.

“We don’t think brides will cancel their weddings regardless of the economy,” said Scott, who acknowledged that this particular specialist market is already cluttered, with and more and more Caribbean destinations fighting for a share of the romance dollar, but he said the conference could go a long way to elevate Cayman as a honeymoon and wedding destination of choice.

Clifford also emphasised the need for partnership with the private sector and said the move towards turning the Department of Tourism into an Authority was back in consideration, and the ministry and the private sector industry body, the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, were working together to make it happen. 

 

 

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Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    CNS,

    While you are technically correct in your response, I’ve got to agree with the other poster that for most people "gimmick’ has a negative connotation.  

  2. Anonymous says:

    I agree with TomCayman! Your use of ‘gimmicks’ has a very negative connotation.

  3. TomCayman says:

    To CNS writers…. to use the phrase "gimmicks" in the headline is to show your editorial viewpoint on the actions of DOT (ie you don’t agree with their actions), yet in the article you simply report rather than given an opinion.

    If you have an opinion, state it, as to post a negative headline like that without clearing stating your views is something worthy of Cayman Net News, not Cayman News Service 🙂

    CNS: There are several meanings for the word. "Advertising gimmick" refers to an innovative strategy to promote a project or product. Its use in this context certainly does not imply that CNS does not agree with the actions of DoT.