Suggestions for the enhancement of tourism

| 25/02/2011

We can share a common ground in that the financial and tourism sectors of our economy are absolutely crucial in the continuity of our island nation. There is no question of whether these two sectors of our economy still remain the primary revenue-generating sources of our seriously troubled economy and somewhat uncertain future of our people.

I write with respect to tourism, what many would consider not only an ailing one but one that is seemingly under threat by the inevitable opening of Cuba’s tourism (if I am correct). With some constructive criticism, I dare to say it is of my opinion that our successive governments may not have made every effort in the enhancement of our now mostly monotonous tourism product. It would seem that we are continuing a trend of being dependant on the existing elements of our very basic tourism product and that maybe there is not enough real thinking ‘outside the box’.

If one has to sit and truly consider what the Cayman Islands has to offer to our valuable tourist visitors compared to other tourist destinations, we could not come up with much more than the essentially boring beaches, Stingray City, Turtle Farm, swim with the dolphins, a not so ‘historic-looking’ Pedro St. James, diving/water sports, night life (not so great), Botanic Gardens/Mastic Trail and a list of other basic ‘Things to Do Cayman’. Oh and let’s not forget, a dwindling ‘Safety Factor and Perception’ considered by any potential tourist as well as our already minimal number of return visitors. In my opinion, our successive governments have seemingly not committed to creating a truly ‘touristy’ visual appearance of our islands and have certainly not paid attention to keeping a tourist-conscious and tourist-friendly hospitality. Conclusively, it is somewhat apparent that our successive governments have not been taking very seriously, our overall tourism product, its apparent failing and consequent threat to the economic future of our country.

In light of this tragedy in the making, I would like to offer a few suggestions of concepts which, in my opinion, could be feasible to implement and if done successfully, would no doubt be positive enhancements and great revenue generators. These suggestions are intended to add elements to our tourism sector/product to lend a hand in putting the Cayman Islands back a little higher on the list of choices of tourist destinations and with more popular type attractions. These suggestions are as follows.

Annual Music Festival: I have considered that the concept of an annual music festival such as Jamaica’s Reggae Sun Splash might be useful in attracting larger amounts of tourist who also have outdoor music festivals as their interest. The proposed music festival is intended to offer multi-genres of music by both live bands and DJs from a mix of both local and foreign artists. This annual music festival could be held during the summer months (the low season for tourism) and could be facilitated for a period as long as 8 weeks in giving a broader period of time for tourist to be able to schedule their vacations or trips and have the privilege of enjoying some of this event. This concept of an 8-week period would allow for a greater period of time for our tourism industry to take advantage of the revenues of stay-over tourism during the ‘low’ season potentially generated from this. Perhaps other existing business sectors that could participate in this type of tourism could also take advantage in the benefits. I also believe that new types of business as relates to the music industry or off-shoots of this industry could be introduced and they too could benefit from this potential extension of our tourism.

I do believe that this idea/concept, if received and implemented, could produce a significant chunk of revenue for our country. Take for example Ibiza (Ebeza), Spain. Ibiza is an Island off the coast of Spain in the Mediterranean Sea with its tourism now largely based on the music industry and popular for its night clubs playing various genres of music, primarily the electronic dance, ambient and chillout genres of music, of which the latter two are very relaxing genres that are well suited for an island setting such as ours, without a doubt. In my opinion, it would be a wasted opportunity not to research this as a prospective tourist attraction and extension of our tourism.

Water Theme Park: As we should all know, many other countries have theme parks of some or many kinds and there are a very large number of theme park enthusiasts from around the world who would make the Cayman Islands a choice of destination for that attraction alone if we had one. With theme parks no doubt being a good source of thrills and amusement – hence the large numbers of visitors they attract – I believe that the addition of a water-based theme park would be a great tourist attraction for Cayman and one that could be operated year-round. My idea would be a theme park similar to that of the Atlantis, Paradise Island in the Bahamas or others for that matter. Ours could be one with a very exotic theme, boasting a few totally unique features and rides to set us apart from the rest and intended to make ours a ‘must visit’.

This, in my firmest opinion, would be one more attraction that could be added to draw visitors to the Cayman Islands, hence more tourism revenue and tourist satisfaction. I am all too sure that many local residents would love a theme park to enjoy as well. This theme park could be developed by perhaps a consortium of local business investors and/or foreign investors and could be a ‘win-win’ story for Cayman’s tourism, our tourists and the investors alike. Why not have a look at the feasibilities and make this a reality?

A Pier and Boardwalk (with small shops, restaurants and bars): Primarily with their tourism in mind, there are many countries with seaside tourist destinations which have invested in piers and boardwalks with small shops, restaurants, etc., to complete touristy settings – resulting in continued healthyrevenues almost year-round. If this is the case for many of those destinations, then why not Cayman?

The scene and setting of a pier somewhere in an appropriate area on Grand Cayman is yet another great element in the list of hopeful tourist attractions to come. A fairly long cement-based pier with a shaded area at theend as well as another along the pier, complete with guard railings and safety personnel. Needless to say, this could be one more attraction that would aid in the lure and attractiveness of the Cayman Islands as a destination of choice not only for the romantics at heart, but for many others alike. I am all too sure that many local residents would also like to have such a place to enjoy as well. Again, a consortium of local and/or foreign investors could take the prize and pride in developing such.

Nature Parks and More Outdoor Activities: Again, as there are millions of people/potential tourists and residents alike who have outdoor activities dear to heart, it is without a doubt that the development of more outdoor related attractions, such as nature trails for hiking, off-road biking and camping tours, perhaps even a nature park incorporating multiple activities and adventure such as a man-made lake offering various water activities such as kayaking, paddle boats. Perhaps bungee jumping and cable rides through wooded areas could be added. The park could include a section for full camping trips facilitating restrooms, water, electricity, barbeque pits, portable air conditioners for rental and overhead reservoir gravity-assisted showers for a more natural effect and much more. A section set on the outskirts for 4×4 ATV off-roading could also be added for those enthusiasts. Bird-watching tours could also be an additional option, and the list goes on. As a suggestion, this nature park could be adjoined to the existing Mastic Trail or Botanic Gardens or alternatively located in the East End interior lands.

Imagine … all these things could be enjoyed by thousands if not millions annually. We could make this happen if we really cared and tried!

Tourist Appreciation Months – Give something back! Last, but not overlooked is what I consider would be an absolutely unique and one-of-a-kind aspect of real hospitality – the development of a program whereby as the Cayman Islands collectively, for 2 or 3 months of the year, we could show our genuine appreciation to our valuable visitors by means of monthly periods of significantly discounted prices on products and services. Freebies could be offered up by our tourism related businesses and any others for that matter.

As a primary part of this program, perhaps the government and/or a number of tourism industry businesses alike could come together and finance/present one or more events annually for our tourists to enjoy free of charge – perhaps these events could be music concerts by local and other popular Caribbean and international artist. In putting on these events, perhaps this could also serve to invite more of our valued visitors, hence yet more revenue could be gained even at discounted rates/prices during any of these appreciation months. All this combined would portray a unique humbleness and genuine appreciation for our valued visitors who are the source of much of the bread we enjoy. Why not give back just a little?

Can anyone disagree that there are millions of people/tourist around the world (our past and potential visitors) who, when shown to them our appreciation, will only respond by returning and paying even more patronage to a rarely found humble nation who can openly and genuinely show their appreciation for their business? For me this would be highly noble of us.

All these things to ponder and work to make happen – as opportunities and time are two elements that can be unforgiving unless we take advantage and do what we must in continuing to forge and secure our future as a nation!

With all said above, I plead for those who can take these ideas and any others to make all effort to pave a brighter and perhaps more secure future for our forsaken Isles Cayman.

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Comments (33)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Suggestions for the Enhancement of Tourism:

    That’s a hard question…let me see…

    #1 Don’t dredge North Sound
    #2 Don’t build a oil refinery
    # 3 Train and Arm the police officers
    # 4 Stiffer penalties for Crime

    Okay UPD and PPM… over to you now. Afterall, we don’t know anything about politics and common sense so we’ll leave it up to you. I’ve got my own job to deal with…isn’t that how it goes?

  2. Shepherd says:

    David, I love your suggestions and positive thinking! Here is hoping someone will take notice.

    The boardwalk/pier idea is appealing if the right businesses get involved. Not just for tourists, but locals too. It would be nice to have somewhere to go in the evening that doesn’t involve drinking at a bar. Same for the water theme park, a place for locals too.

    That is what they need to turn Boatswain Beach into, a water theme park. That place is a disgraceful waste of money.

    The idea of tourism give back deals in the slow months is super too. Better a hotel have 100 percent occupancy at half the cost than 25 percent occupancy at full cost. That means more tourists here, buying stuff, eating out, going to attractions! Now if the hotels and Cayman Airways could arrange something! C’mon DOT, start giving everyone a boot up the bum!

    • David says:

      Thank you Shepherd. I could have elaborated much more, but the letter may have become to long for some to spare the time to read in full.

      There are more concerns and Ideas such as our Government doing more island beautification works, but small aesthetic projects and decor that would give our islands much MORE of an Islandy appearance. Aesthetic work could also be incorporated into our planning and building standards moving forward. Many existing properties I’m all to sure, would take the trend and do likewise.

      There is a lot more we could do with our country to make it more attractive not only for our tourist, but for our Caymanian people as well. Currently there is next to NO aesthetically pleasing scenery that would naturally aid in the destressing of our hard-working, stressed out and FORSAKEN local people. Think about it… we don’t even have a decent recreational park to do all the may things we could do.

      I could go on.

      Thanks again for your comments and feedback.


  3. Frequent Flyer says:

    Promote GREEN. Switch to Solar. Build sidewalks and cycle trails instead of walls around your yards. Quit littering your land and your sea. (yes, cigarette butts ARE litter!)
    Take care of the resources that you have!!!!

    If you lose the sandbar to the Mega-yacht dredging, you ARE SCREWED. Once it’s done, you can’t undo it!!!! You have already started with the loss of Mangroves.

    And those of you complaining about the cost?
    Stop. I just went to NYC and it is cheaper here!

  4. JTB says:

    A few of the issues facing the Cayman tourist industry:

    – the industry is heavily focused on cruise passengers whose individual visits are very short. The benefit of the cruise passengers therefore accrues to a few owners of Georgetown retailers and the major attractions like the turtle farm and stingray city.

    – to really leverage the tourist industry you need to concentrate on people who stay here for at least a couple of days, and will spread their money around a bit more

    – by far the biggest deterrent to medium- and long-term tourists is cost. Our hotels, restaurants and bars are outrageously expensive, and simply cannot compete with other Caribbean destinations that deliver the same sunshine and sea for much lower cost

    – if you want to reducecosts of staying and eating and drinking in Cayman you have to look at the cost of regulation, and the impact of immigration policies.

    – the perceived increase in crime is also highly detrimental to tourism, particuarly with older visitors who put a premium on safety

    There is no quick fix, it needs a careful approach that takes in all of these factors. A lot of the writer’s suggestions are sound but they will not achieve much unless you address the fundamentals.

  5. Libertarian says:

    David, I understand that Dart has his own 40-odd buses to transport tourist to Turtle Farm, And at the end of the day, the little taxi man loses his passengers and makes little money. Something has to be done about that! That is just wrong and proves again how government continues to interfere with the tourism market. Dart and another tour bus company is being subsudise by government to transport the passengers! What ever happened to fair competition! Government’s involvement in the tourist market is what is hurting the local people who are trying so hard to make a living.


    • Anonymous says:

      “the little taxi man loses his passengers and makes little money”
      Hahahaha! That’s funny. Taxi drivers cheat every way they can. I’m sure the taxi’s are doing just fine.
      Maybe if they had a better attitude they would even get more tips.
      At the moment, all they do is gripe and complain.
      Sorry, but that’s is how I see it from experience.

    • anonymous1 says:

      lol… I like how you exagerrated the 40-odd buses. Dart is gradually taking over this island. Nothing is being said about making the market more competitive.

    • Turtle's Head says:

      I vote for anything that is against the racket that is Cayman’s taxi fleet.  No meters then no respect.  It is lucky our crime figures don’t include the number of robberies on West Bay Road every day when tourists are fleeced by greedy taxi drivers.


      • Libertarian says:

        ***** Understood, but tell me, can you find a country or society that doesn’t run on greed? Of course, everyone will say they are not greedy – and some will say not Dart, not those making it big. But this it… the great accomplishments in the world are achieved by individuals pursuing their “self-interest.” The taxi driver is like everybody else doing what they can do best in order to make a living. That is how the market works. Free enterprise, the pursuit of one’s self-interest has always contributed to the productivity and prosperity of a nation. Show me a nation that greed or wanting more is not fueling buying and selling, and I will show you a nation that is either socialist or communist, an economic-political system that doesn’t work. *****

        • Turtle's Head says:

          Cayman is hardly an example of a free market given the massive protectionism and barriers to entry which prevents any meaningful competition and results in overpriced services and stores which trade at oligopolistic profit margins.

          • Libertarian says:

            *****Cayman needs to remove such protective barriers, high fees, permits, and duties, and restrictive laws; or else, Cayman will always be void of a fair and free market*****

  6. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Ebanks,

    As a tourist who comes to your island, I love your ideas. A music festival in summer would be something that I would definently fly in to attend. I am unable to attend jazz fest as it is in October (I believe?) and I only have time off in the summer months. Music is definently a draw and I am not talking techno that I have been hearing on my last few visits in the bars on 7MB. Local bands and a few great reggae artists in the summer would be an excellent draw!!

    A boardwalk would be wonderful! A place to walk in the evenings with shops, restaurants, bars, people would be very welcome. I know that Bermuda does "Harbour Nites" once a week and it brings out tourists and locals and it is a great event…something like that in Cayman would be very nice.

    A water theme park is not something I would personally be into, but I could see how families would like to visit.

    I enjoyed reading your ideas. I love your island and hopefully someone will take some of your suggestions and put them to use. Lower the airfares would also help get us down there more often.

    Thank you.


    • David says:

      Thank you… Thank you for your comments and contribution to this subject, but most of all, thank you for your contribution as one of our valued visitors and for that matter, I say a genuine ‘Thank You’ to every visitor who has contributed as well as those who may contribute to our economy as a tourist in the future.

      Certainly Reggae and other Caribbean flavors would be a prime genres of the suggested festival. As mentioned, this festival would have a real variety of genres from both local and international artists. A little something for mostly everyone perhaps.

      Without a doubt, lower airfares would certainly be one aspect in relation to our tourism that requires improvement. FYI- As I have been made to understand, our national airline, Cayman Airways dictates the airfares to and from the Cayman Islands. Unfortunately this is the case since the cost of operation and maintenance of our national airline is being done at varying degrees of losses (and subsidized by Govt.) stemming from a few factors – some of the routes we fly are not entirely profitable year-round, perhaps the size of our fleet relative to the overall number of passengers/revenues are not being adequate to sustain the naturally high costs in operation/maintenance and fuel OR whether losses by the mismanagement/interference by politics as has been in the past. Cayman Airways as I believe, may be in a ‘healing phase’ now, but with the rising cost of fuel yet again, regrettably is not so much a hopeful sign for better fares in the near future.

      Once again, on behalf of Cayman we thank you for your patronage and hope to have some improvement to offer you and all our return/potential visitors in the future.



      • Anonymous says:

        A few other ideas that I would love to see GC offer would be more “boat cruises” day and night. Party boats, dinner cruises, anything out on the water (not just snorkel/stingray city) would be such a treat! I would also think a ferry type system from Georgetown to the public beach would be great for tourists and would also reduce some of the traffic on WB Rd.
        Another idea would be a trolley car that makes several stops on a revolving circle so all us tourists do not feel the need to rent a car….Georgetown, Stingers/Marriott, Royal palms, Public Beach, Tiki Bar, Cemetary Beach, turn around, Eats, Coconut Joes, Georgetown or something of the sort.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Before your suggested projects can come into being, you must tackle the incompetance and corruption that is associated with development projects in Cayman.

    Remember Boswain’s Beach?

    • David says:

      Absolutely correct. I am EVERY BIT aware of that. Those two things and Politics go hand in hand completely. I do my part on those two subjects every day when I preach about those to people I talk to every day. On the other side of coin, those two atrocities occur in many other countries too, however there has still been enough competence and achievements to do well.

      And yes, I remember ALL that has been done with corruption and incompetence. Every bit that was made public.

      Thanks though.

  8. Real World says:

    Suggestions for the enhancement of tourism: stop the crime, period.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Something that we should look at is daylight saving.. one of the main thngs people come to the Caribbbean for is SUNSHINE…. if we moved the clocks forward like other countries we would be giving our tourists an extra hour of sunshine. Businesses would benefit from the extra hour as most tourists go out for a bite to eat and cocktail for sunset…  and residents too… Myself, I often go to places like Macabuca, Tiki Beach around 5pm and stay till the sun goes down.. usually having food and a few drinks. It’s something to think about and doesn’t cost anything anything to implement.

    • David says:

      Sorry, we can’t move the SUNSHINE forward though, can we? For the world to know, Sunshine in the Cayman Islands is FREE – all day long!!! As soon as the sun rises you are free to go sit on the beach and get your buns well tanned all day long till the sun sets, which varies by season by the way.

      Now welcome to the Cayman Islands.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree – its not an extra hour of sunshine per se but people tend to get up around the same time each day – so it makes the day / daylight longer – thumbs up for this idea

  10. Anonymous says:

    we have not got a chance with the current mentality that tells tourists that you cannot drink or dance after 11.45pm on a sat night….or that you cannot shop in a grocery store on a sunday!

    • Atheist says:

      Or that you can’t go to the bookstore because it might upset the Baby Jesus.

  11. Puff the Magic Iguana says:

    Legalise drugs.

  12. Anonymous says:


  13. Anonymous says:

    I’d check out the financial track record of the Atlantis Paradise Island before recommending it as an example.

    Last time I was in that part of the world they had just laid off 800 staff and were on the verge of closing.

    The answer, as has been posted elsewhere, is to open up the Cayman Islands to the European all-inclusive holiday market – that’s the only way you have any chance of surviving when Cuba opens up.

    • Anonymous says:

      european all inclusive market??…i like the idea but the high cost of labour/materials means cayman could never comptete against other carribean destinations….

  14. Anonymous says:

    Mr Ebanks – for taking the time to write so thoughtfully you deserve huge credit. However, your piece lacks real articulation as to the true problems here in Cayman – they are volume/price/tradition.

    re:Volume – there simply are not enough residents (total expats/locals/etc) to make any real major investment sustainable…Atlantis waterpark is funded by 3,000+ hotel rooms on property and 5 Million tourists and 300,000 population… build it here would be to make the Turtle Farm developer look like a genius.

    re:Price – the nonsensical air-fares are killing the tourism industry….the rice fixing and collusion that are systemic in the Cayman-USA routes have been so detrimental…..Cayman Airways should be run like SOuthwest or JetBlue or RyanAir (UK)…they should be basically offering flights for the price of the tax only, and doing deals with all the hotels/resorts and get kick-backs that way…..but it’ll never happen.

    Tradition – unfortunately, mass-tourism is viewed upon in Cayman as being about as welcome as flatulence in a church hall…..its a hugely mis-informed position that the majority of Cayman has held for so long and its allowed every single regional competitor to leap ahead of us…..all we have are a couple of large hotels……we should have 5 Comfort Inns, or BEst westerns, all around the airport and have people be able to fly here very cheaply, stay cheaply and spend the rest of their funds in all our local businesses and wonderful offerings……but oh no, just like cruise passengers are seen as the poor-relation and unwelcome, so we too view cattle-tourism with disdain because we are a ‘high-price-high-standard’ destination….yeah, sure we are….for the 50 people who come here…….but ask any businessman, volume works every time over price……..

    Your Annual Music Festival is a great idea – but nobody will be able to afford to fly here, and they’ll have nowhere to stay

    until we have a Director of Tourism with the guts to tackle the perceived wisdom and push for the future, we’re going to continue to go towards the past……

    • David says:

      Thank you for you input. Your points/views well taken, however just so you (and everyone) knows – this letter was a letter that I have submitted to the DoT and CITA to perhaps give them a kick-start on ‘Thinking Outside the Box’ as it is obvious that the powers that be have NOT been creative or taking any action in terms of improving on our tourism product/hospitality as I have merely indicated in my letter above. When writing this letter with the intent of emailing this to the head of the DoT and CITA officials, I had to consider that I could not express all my SO critical views as I was all too sure they would be more offended and may never take my suggestions.

      As for the "real articulation" as you mention, with all the NUMEROUS failures and areas of major concern just in the area of tourism alone, the first being CRIME which will have the greatest impact on our whole country, not to mention EVERY other case of piss-poor governance we have gotten from our successive governments and those otherwise in authority – all these things to be criticized… ALL those things I am all TOO AWARE of. I am sure I would have to write VOLUMES to try to ‘keep the floor’ alone. It is JUST TOTALLY FLABBERGASTING to see/know the sheer LACK of God-Given BRAINS and desire to have done what it takes to have an efficient and sensibly ran country. *** There goes any chance of my suggestions being considered now!

      The "true problems" as you put it, (1) being volume: the volume is intended to come (more from TOURIST & not residents/locals as you indicate)… from an increase over the annual 2 million(i believe) tourist visitors the DoT claims – by implementing some of these attractions. (2)Price: Haven’t you noticed the development that has taken place in Cayman even in a downward trend of the economy? Don’t you think that if the powers that be, started to do even more of what they were supposed to do in the first place, that PRICE would not be much of a problem? Are these suggestions impossible?

      As for the Atlantis idea, nowhere in my letter did i suggest we build a theme park the size/capacity which would not be proportional to the expected and more realistic volumes of patrons and also one that would not be proportionate to our economy. 

      That’s why professional consultants who are experienced with these large-scale developments are used to do the research on the FEASIBILITY of such undertakings and will give a thumbs up or thumbs down before such investments are done. I played my part in making the suggestions, quite simply. Those in authority should take the ball and run with it. The investors will make all the right decisions.

      Now if I have to say ALL that I would like to preach about (as I usually do), I would be sitting at my computer for FAR too long and never accomplish those things which I need to do.

      However people, could we have more intelligent and less wise-ass comments made such as "legalizing drugs"?

      Thanks again.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I’ve got a few more:

    Price controls to stop greedy taxi drivers and shop owners from fleecing the tourists.

    Shopping. Not coffee mugs and crappy plastic turtles, I mean a shopping mall with recognised global brands and realistic prices. Just designate an area where shops are exempt from the 60% Caymanian requirement and duty.

    Training for those people who interact with the tourists, including landlords of holiday rentals.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Have a celebrity pirate captain for pirates week.

    • Anonymous says:

      Note that we have the annual music festival called the jazz fess. Arguement could be that we need to modify it but why create the wheel.

      Also we have a theme park in the Turtle Farm. It needs modifications and a lot of things but it is there.

      Also why are you so negative about some of Cayman attractions. You made a comment about Pedro Castle and frankly I was impressed by my latest tour. Overall our attractions needs added work in all cases but they are there. No need to recreate the wheel.