BTN speaks to Shomari Scott, Director of Tourism, Cayman Islands at Caribbean Marketplace 2010
BTN:What kind of year do you envisage 2010 to be for your island?
SS:The Cayman Islands ended the last two months of the year on a positive note, up by 5% from the same months in the previous year, in part due to the work of the private sector in bringing added value promotions to the marketplace. Consumer confidence is also returning, albeit slowly, and we are cautiously optimistic for 2010, expecting steady visitation to the Cayman Islands.
BTN:How important is the tourism sector to the overall economy of your island?
SS:Tourism is incredibly important to the overall economy of the Cayman Islands, with the industry being one of the two pillars of our economy. The tourism industry is also one of the biggest employers on island.
BTN: What is your approach to fostering public-private partnerships? And how has the role of public-private partnerships changed during the global downturn?
SS:The Cayman Islands Government has always worked very closely with the tourism private sector, holding regular meetings to look at the economy, review research and develop tactics and strategies to mitigate against the economic downturn.
BTN: What are you hoping to achieve at this year’s Caribbean Marketplace?
SS: CHA is a great forum to meet and cement relationships with wholesaler partners and airline travel arms, solidify co-op marketing, discuss results and projections, as well as changes in consumer behaviour.
BTN: What are your key markets?
SS:The Cayman Islands tourism efforts target three key countries/regions – the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, through advertising, marketing, and public relations efforts.
BTN: What in the way of plans, development or initiatives are currently underway on your island?
SS:The Cayman Islands Get Warm Winter Promotion and That’s so Cold Contest is a key initiative for this winter.When the holiday presents have been unwrapped and dreary weather remains, a Cayman Islands vacation provides the perfect fix for those winter blues. For travel from today through May 15, 2010, visitors can take advantage of upgrades, savings and free nights from multiple accommodations, dive operators and attractions on-island; including a free trip to the world-famous Stingray City.
Additionally, there are some exciting Scuba diving initiatives underway: Sinking of the USS Kittiwake: In addition to the more than 250 dive sites currently in Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac, the Cayman Islands has acquired retired US naval ship, the USS Kittiwake, which is slated to be sunk in Cayman’s waters this spring to serve as an exciting new dive attraction.
The Cayman Islands will soon create a new Scuba diving attraction with the sinking of a de-commissioned naval ship, the USS Kittiwake. To help protect its thriving marine life, this new dive site will provide a necessary relief for some of the most frequently visited dive sites. Dive 365 and the sinking of USS Kittiwake prove the Cayman Islands’ commitment to protecting its reefs from environmental overuse, ensuring that many further generations can experience and enjoy the magnificent marine life unique to this Caribbean destination.
Cayman Dive 365 is the newest Scuba diving initiative in the destination, designed to ultimately offer divers a different dive spot for every day of the year! Over the next few years, Grand Cayman will introduce 65 new sites, Cayman Brac 6, and Little Cayman 8 brand new spots to explore the breathtaking underwater world, and at the same time it will support an environmental initiative that will allow certain sites to be rested. Visitors are encouraged to get involved by sponsoring a new dive site!
BTN: How would you describe the travel experience of visiting your island? And what are its USPs?
The Cayman Islands is one of the Caribbean’s most family-friendly destination – a unique summer programme is currently in the works for launch very soon. Additionally, the five shades of Cayman blue water are found nowhere else, the diving is incredible and the destination is working to lead the region in sustainable initiatives and eco-friendly projects. Next week’s Cayman Cookout (www.caymanislands.ky/cookout) is just one of the country’s many world-class events, and highlights Cayman’s epicurean diversity and over 300 restaurants. Cayman is also renowned for its great service and world class amenities.
BTN: How would you like your island’s tourism industry to evolve?
SS: One of the more critical business issues is the need to differentiate the Cayman Islands from other sun, sand and sea destinations. While our beaches and underwater environment are undoubtedly world-class, Cayman also has a very compelling, very unique personality. Cayman is one of the most vibrant, contemporary, continually-evolving societies in the Caribbean with a worldly, welcoming and successful personality that, when combined with our natural beauty, creates a story that no other vacation destination can match. It is this compelling, unique personality that positions the Cayman Islands well to capitalize on the burgeoning family market. Research has shown that in the midst of the current economic environment there is even more interest in spending time with families; and family travel – be it the traditional mom, dad and two kids, or multi-generational – is expected to show significant growth over the next decade.