Tourism road show seeks public opinion

| 20/10/2009

(CNS): The Department of Tourism is going out into the community to find out what people think the Cayman Islands tourism product will look like in 2012. A decline in visitor numbers due to the global recession, fierce competition and a lack of consensus within the community about what the tourism product should stand for has put the Cayman Islands tourism business under pressure, the DoT said. As a result, a new set of tourism business development strategies are needed to address these issues and the DoT hopes members of the community will contribute their views to that process.

“The first step in creating a shared vision for tourism is to understand what stakeholders want the Cayman Islands tourism product and business to look like in the medium and long term,” said Acting Director of Tourism Shomari Scott. “We will be asking participants of the sessions to help us define this so we can develop clear, compelling tourism business strategies that key members of the government and tourism communities have bought into and which allow the Cayman Islands to speak with one voice.”

Anyone with a vested interest in creating a brighter future for tourism in the Cayman Islands is asked to attend on of the series of town hall meetings, which will be held this week in each district on Grand Cayman.

The DoT aims to increase visitor volume as well as the lifetime value of each customer or visitor and gain more in-destination spending from each visitor. It seeks to lower the marketing/sale acquisition costs for acquiring each visitor but generate higher profits for individual tourism businesses. The future strategy will also be seeking more effective decision-making about tourism related investments and an increase in civic pride as community members share a belief of “who we intend to be”.

Scott said he hopes people would come to the meetings and talk about their opinions.  “We encourage participants to aim high, be open and share ideas as we start the process of creating ‘Tourism 2012’,” he added.

The meetings begin in West Bay this evening, Tuesday 20 October, at the John A Cumber Hall at 6:30pm, moving to Bodden Town tomorrow, Wednesday 21 October, at the Civic Centre at 5:30 pm, and at the North Side Civic Centre at 8pm. On Thursday, 22 October, the roadshow moves to George Town Mary Miller Hall where the meeting will start at 6pm. For more information, interested parties should contact Carol Britton at the Department of Tourism on 949-0623.

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  1. Twyla Vargas says:

    I ATTENDED THE BODDEN TOWN, Meeting, and I am still trying to find out why we are again paying someone large sums of money to so called consultants who do not know squat about Bodden Town.  We have Tourist ambassadors like Mr Robert Bodden and a few others who had to give out all evidence of what requirements were needed in this Town.  So why is it that we need to be paying consultant whois trying to learn.

    That is Caymanians bigest problem, we do not give our own people a chance.  All we want to hear is a foreign voice and we turn fool.  In the end these people are raping your business in their way.   Another thing this is a repeat of the Same old Same old story since the past 6 years.  I dont see anything new comming to the table in the way of solid initatives for this district.   As far as I am concerned, there is only one place in Bodden Town is worth the money and that the Tourism department should assist.  That is the NUrse Josie Centre.  The group of women there are ambassadors to Bodden Town and Tourism, and should be recognized for the hard work that is put in there.  I name a few.  Ms. Mary, Ms Flo, Ms Agness, Ms Betty, Josie and too many more to name.

    The Mission house is next door.  A wast of money.  When there is a social event there.  Local people are not given an invitation.

    The Pedro castle, That should close down.  Go check out these places for your self and you will see.   All other private Inns and guest houses does not even associate with the locals much less give them a job.   I live here in this Town so I can tell you exactly what is taking place.  If anyone know about anything happening contrary to my comments, please tell me about them.  Remember the Go-East Inititative, began 5 years ago.  Where is it now.  No where.

  2. Anonymous says:

    To get tourists to come this is what you need:

    -No Violent Crime

    -Beautiful beaches/scenery

    -Good, inexpensive flights

    -Fresh water

    -Good food

    -Good shopping/groceries

    -Good weather

    -Good activities

    -Friendly people


  3. Anonymous says:

    What a brilliant move by the DOT. Why spend any effort or any of that huge marketing budget on the overseas markets – lets go out on our own streets and conduct yet another study of what residents want. Lets waste more time and money asking the same old questions and getting the same answers and while we are at it ignore the Tourism Management Plan (which has of course never been implemented). Forget the expert reports that have followed in recent years (I believe DOT re-examined this document and strategy in 2008) no doubt at vast expense. Its ok LOGB says we can borrow more so don’t worry same old modus operandi – spend lots of money – accomplish nothing – account tono-one. How very sad.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t think going out and talking to the residents makes it a waste of money.  Them not going to follow up on what they have to say is, like you mentioned with the reports etc.

    • Young.KY.female says:

      Actually it’s a start – how is holding meetings at the civic centers and asking the public spending loads of money?  Why would we go to the other Caribbean islands faring their own economic crises for advice especially when it’s fair to say Cayman’s (economic) model is hardly similar. And I’m not sure what you mean about "the same old questions" as it’s refreshing to hear a government department actually asking the people what they think instead of shoving another time and money consuming idea down our throats.  Now, that doesn’t mean the people will come out or make the best or right suggestions but I think this gesture is far from the knee jerk reactions of Mac.

      That being said, I think we need to both embrace what other Caribbean islands are doing to attract some tourists from other islands and to embrace the resounding fact that we are a metropolitan community – the Caribbean has never been a hot-spot destination because of it’s culture and Cayman is far from unique in how it came to be and we need to give it up.  Leave it to the craft market, local support and Pirate’s week – this should not be an overall image to attract a consumer. It will always define us and should be encouraged locally, but this is not what’s going to help tourism.  I cannot make these meetings either so will offer some ideas.

      We need more all-inclusives; houses or condo’s for rent by the week (5-10 day)/month (similar to what’s in Rum point) with person’s assigned to each house.  For example, a chef who can make meals at the request of guest and who’s willing and available to take the guests to the agricultural market, fish market or search out local fruit..etc if desired and stock up guests rentals before they arrive with food and beverage of their choice.  This is a good way to push our local product whether it be mangoes or Caybrew and boost sales.  Someone should pick them up from the airport and either be assigned to be on call to drive them wherever they need to go during their trip or to take them to their rent-a-car location.  With these drivers, they can increase sales in areas not really available to tourists unless they have a local conceirge.  There could then be a local who has the expertise and equipment to set up water activities – whether it be a private dive or take them on a personal trip to stingray city, a snorkel site, to dive their own conch/lobster (depending on the season, obviously) or go on fishing trips.  We have good sport fishing here which is only participated in by locals and is a sector satisfied by Florida and it’s something that could really be tapped into. and so on and so on.  This will clearly increase employment and will be mainly geared toward locals.

      I also think that more recognition to the countries that really make up these islands be recognized.  Perhaps there can be a week where each night, or a night each month, a country is celebrated.  Attract not only those on island but those overseas by giving them discounts that night around the island if they have proof of residency/citizenship of that country.  Get restaurants involved by having cooking contests..etc.  Raise money by getting offices to participate in dress down days..etc to maybe help out some sort of community project going on in that country at the time.  This way expats and locals alike learn about the it’s own residents and make the change of attitude necessary to change our image.  This may be a very simple-minded idea but if implemented correctly, while this may not necessarily be a direct impact to tourism by boosting the number of visitors, I think this can change the perceptions of many which are a huge barrier to our tourism industry.

    • MacDinejad says:

      "You Shut Up!"


    • Anonymous says:

      I would like to say that this is a great idea. I attended the small but powerful meeting last night in the North Side Civic center and the discussions were great. There were a lot of good ideas shared with positive attitudes. I would really encourage the DOT to continue this and to continue sharing the positive mind set that they have. We know it is possible to get our act together but as discussed in the meeting, we must all be on board and share a common goal. I would like to offer a big commendation to Mr. Scott. Well done and keep it up.

      To 23:22, we must share the passion that is present at the DOT, not discourage it. Please attend a meeting for yourself and you will be surprised at how you can also play your part in the building of our industry.


      Thank you.

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually I am very passionate about the Caymanian tourism product and am deeply saddened by what seems to me to be a gradual change in focus over the years from quality to quantity.

        My point is that when one participates repeatedly, and vasts amount of time and energy go into producing plans such as the National Tourism Management Plan, Vision 2008 etc which just seem to languish on a shelf somewhere and are never implemented, it is difficult to get excitied about reinventing the wheel yet again. 

        The residents of North Side and East End have not been shy about speaking their mind as to what they want and don’t want but have they actually been listened to? I recall Mr Bo Miller being very vocal on the subject of a proposed development that would affect his district. This develpment has not transpired yet, but not through lack of Government encouragement.

        Similarly Mr Conolly (of the East End Committee) at a Tourism Conference a few years ago speaking out against proposed large developments in his district one of which has in fact gone ahead.

        The reality is that actions of past governments have shown that what DOT spends money on (and what they may advocate) rarely traslates to the actual tourism product that is delivered.

        In addition, all the local consulting that is done (and has been done) from a tourism point of view is of little value if there is no cohesive Development Plan. For example, the North Siders may say they don’t want a hotel but if an invester comes in and buys property that is zoned ‘hotel/tourism’ then he is within his legal right to put up a hotel. The tourism plight cannot be looked at in isolation.

        I would encourage you and the other writers on this subject to take a look at the National Tourism Management Plan (available for download on the DOT website) and see if the vision and ideas have changed very much.


  4. Anonymous says:

    Cayman is a great place to visit. However, the economy is bad in the U.S. and it doesn’t help matters when the businesses here in the U.S. are nickel and diming everyone, only to deliver bad service.

    I come from the west coast. If I can’t get a flight with Continental Airlines that would make it a 6 hour flight one-way, the other airlines turn it into a 12 hour flight one-way. Example, So. California to San Francisco (No. Calif), San Francisco to Chicago or Philadelphia, Chicago or Philadelphia to Miami, Miami to Cayman. ***Often, Miami has a layover for about 2-4 hours. 

    If I pay cash for my airline ticket, I am harassed by airport security in the U.S. due to the Patriot Act. If I use my credit card, the credit card companies want to triple the interest rate (regardless if I pay it off before/after getting the bill), or the credit card company will deny the purchase and say I went over the limit (They are lowering the limits without any advanced warning. You find out if you try to make certain purchases).

    The airlines are charging every fee known to man. I feel like, not only are they squeezing me for every penny, but, like they are literally picking me up under the armpits, lifting me off the floor, and shaking me in order to see if I tried to stash money that will fall out.

    Personally, I feel each business need to meet with each other to discuss how each other are affecting their businesses, not how they can make a profit by taking people to the cleaners. Until then, I will enjoy my "staycations."

  5. Anonymous says:

    Cayman will end up with divers (not big spenders), Americans on all inclusive super hotels and crusie shopers buy tat in an increasingly tacky GT.  How many more pathetic low quality jewellers do we need?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Cannot make it so here are some suggestions:

    Zero tolerence on all crime

    Have Caymanians do more than make the beds

    Have local influenced food in restaurants

    Landscape Town – and if it is by a road and looks scruffy – plant bougainvilla etc…

    No-more dancehall with abusive lyrics at the sand bar

    Can people with tourism/customer service skills please deal with security issues (espescially at airport)

    Separate customs lines for true tourist  visitors staying in hotels

    Stick a uniform on the Governor with a great big feather on his hat – Bermuda makes theirs do it – then we could have some benefit.

    Have police in ceremonial uniform provide security AND good old fashioned Q&A for tourists in down-town area.

    No more jet ski’s close to shore – and none on SMB.

    Any offence against a tourist – 10 year minimum.

    Wireless internet – everywhere.

    Control development – if it is not sympathetic to social, cultural, and natural environment, do not allow it.

    Ban Carnival cruise lines but encourage the others.

    4 ships per day maximum. 

    No cattle boats.

    Keep it higher end and exclusive.

    Provide value for money but do not make it cheap.

    Get rid of unauthorised signage/clutter etc.

    Make the prisoners keep it clean (at 4.00 am)

    Allow Caymanians to benefit from the economy so they can start smiling again – give them backa role in their country so they can have ownership and a sense of pride.

     First class reliable public transport.

    Remove all the silly swim area ropes and buoys all over the place. They destroy the appearance of the natural environment. If people use boats inappropriately – prosecute them.

    Peace, Tranquility, Harmony, Safety.




    • Anonymous says:

      Ditto, ditto, ditto!

    • Anonymous says:

       "Have local influenced food in restaurants"

      The amount of times I’ve ordered ‘West Indian’ or ‘Cayman style’ curry to find out it was Indian or some other Asian curry.

    • Anon says:

      Wow man, whoever you are, you need to publish your name, u deserve a cookie or a medal for those ideas..  Publish your name.. CNS can you please forward these ideas to the LoGB?? please!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Cayman just needs to get back to the basics. You can’t sell the culture because, well, let’s just say when it comes to Caribbean culture tourism no one has Jamaica or Cuba beat. Not even close, maybe Haiti would qualify but they are out of the game for the foreseeable future. So Cayman what do you got? 7-mile beach, an overpriced and "no outside drinks" Rum Point and a botanical garden. The hotels are why people come to Cayman.  Americans love the all inclusive environment where you simply don’t have to worry about anything. The dolphin attractions probably are Cayman’s most notable experience outside of the beach. There is hardly any local fair available unlike other Caribbean destinations so you can’t tout local cuisine. The turtle farm is a sham and besides holding a turtle who soon be a bowl of soup, offers no real memorable experience. Not one worth 40 bucks or whatever they charge to get in there.

    All that being said…My suggestion would be to make Cayman look and feel more like the Caribbean and less like a suburb of Miami. Fix up quaint homes and pedestrianize downtown. Downtown GT should be an interesting place. Rather its full of banks and the courthouse and cruiser crap. When will it be realized that Downtown has a lot to offer in terms of potential. Its just a waste though. Adding more live music to the downtown scene and block parties would also be nice. Cayman is just kind of blah right now. There’s nothing wrong with being a sleepy Caribbean island, its just that Grand Cayman isn’t so sleepy now and for a foreigner, there is little to explore in Cayman that is truly Caymanian. All I see are a bunch of bars packed with ex-pats, restaurants that I could find anywhere in America for the most part and a beach that is great but again full of foreigners and lacking any Caribbean culture. Anyways I would just culture it up some, even if there’s not much more to go around.


    • Anonymous Ex Pat says:

      I applaud your comments and concur with your sentiments.  This place has been waaaaaay too Americanised and for the most part has lost what could have been a rich culture – now only clinging onto the threads of that culture.  We should nurture and cherish all things Caymanian that remain and try our best to bring back what has been lost.  When I first came here I was very saddened to note the heavy drinking/bars culture here and how the place not only seems to care too much for tourists and too little for its own people, but also seems to be attempting to become a "Little America".  In most of the bars along SMB all you see is Ex Pats and all you hear is Rock Music.  If you dare to ask to hear something more akin to the environment – a bit of conscious reggae or soca/calypso – the bar staff look at you like you are some kind of alien.  But we are in the Caribbean.  Our tourists are visiting the Caribbean – and that’s what the Cayman experience should be all about – not America. 

      The town centre is a ghost town – I’ve never seen anything like it.  Not only would it benefit from your suggestion but personally, I feel it would greatly benefit from being a town centre per se, as in clothes, food, shoe, local craft/artwork, coffee and other shops that everyone can benefit from (not just tourists).  GT has all the potential to become a thriving town centre if this was done, with locals, ex pats and tourists alike benefitting from being able to do all their shopping in one central location rather than being forced to travel to districts all over the island just to get their basic grocery and clothing items. 

      Its very sad indeed that so little thought is given to developing the capital of the country in a positive way to generate the economy, it completely defeats logic.  In contrast, so much effort seems to go into the SMB and Caymana Bay areas its sickening… or perhaps they intend to move the capital of their country get again – from Bodden Town, to George Town and now to Caymana Bay town!