Cayman logs new record for stay-over guests

| 12/01/2018 | 88 Comments
Cayman News Service

Tourists visit George Town via cruise ship tender

(CNS): The number of people who visited the Cayman Islands in 2017 reached record highs, the tourism department confirmed Thursday as it released the complete arrival figures for 2017. For the first time in the islands’ tourism history the numbers broke through the 400,000 mark for people flying into the islands for a visit. Meanwhile, down at the dock the year ended with the best cruise passenger arrival numbers for twelve years. Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said those who played a role in attracting visitors to the destination should be “extraordinarily proud of their efforts”.

Last year 418,403 stay-over visitors came to Cayman, an 8.55% increase on 2016, and another 1,728,444 cruisers came to the islands on more than 570 ships. The statistics show that from June through until  the end of the year, air arrivals topped all past recorded statistics. In December more than 49,000 stay-over visitors arrived, well over 21% more than December 2016 and 20.8% higher than the previous record-holding December of 2014.

The growth in this year-end tourism was fuelled by numbers from key markets in North America. The US Northeast region alone delivered nearly 3,000 additional visitors year over year, making it the top performing region of 2017, and there was a near 38% increase on people coming from the Midwest region in December.

Kirkconnell said it was his ministry’s mandate to boost visitor growth but stressed that it was a collective effort that made the success. “I encourage all of us in the tourism industry and its auxiliary partners to use this accomplishment as a springboard for even greater success in 2018,” he added.

Throughout the year numbers increased from the United States by more than 13% and from Canada by 6% and there was incremental growth in burgeoning markets, such as Latin America, which saw a total increase of 22.61%.

Ministry officials credited the tourism department’s “diversified marketing plan” with the growth, resulting from the implementation of initiatives like the “Worry Free Hurricane Guarantee” and promotional events, such as the meal kit delivery service in the United States, which is inspired by some of the most talented Cayman Islands’ chefs, tempting culinary tourists.

Cayman Vows magazine, aimed at couples and wedding planners, featured Caymanian Grace Gealey and her husband, Trai Byers, on the cover. The celebrity couple later became the face of the Cayman Islands’ destination ad campaign launched in October.

“Through strategic marketing initiatives from the Department of Tourism and strong, cohesive
relationships with our tourism partners, together we have been able to achieve unprecedented growth in arrivals to the Cayman Islands in 2017,” said Director of Tourism Rosa Harris, noting that her global teams’ drive to be “fearless innovators” in marketing broke visitor volume records.

In 2018 the national flag carrier, Cayman Airways, will celebrate its 50th anniversary and the airline remains an important tool in pushing up stay-over tourism.

“Aviation is the catalyst to driving visitation. With increased seats available, travellers have more opportunities to select their preferred airline itinerary. The Cayman Islands will offer over 10 non-stop flight options; this is an excellent opening to 2018 for all stakeholders in the Cayman Islands tourism industry,” the DoT said.

While tourism officials were delighted with the air arrival numbers, they were largely silent on the 12-year high for cruise arrivals in 2017. Last year 1,728,444 cruise passengers docked in George Town compared with 2016 last year. More than 221,000 people visited by ship in December alone following of a record-breaking November.

While the weather impacted some months this year, pushing down visitor numbers, the year-end figure calls into question the government’s insistence that the cruise industry is collapsing over a lack of berthing facilities.

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Category: Business, Tourism

Comments (88)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Complexion for the protection.
    Only certain groups are awarded certain benefits of the doubt. Had it been a McField or Rankine it would be a different story – and perhaps even a British investigation.




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  2. PPM Distress Signal says:

    10:42am its is said that the truth maybe and offence but it aint no sin. But attributing this tourism windfall to the prowess of our so called Tourism Ministry and its leadership when its obscenely obvious to all who want see and learn that alot of this has to do with destruction and damage done to other Caribbean destinations in 2017. Yes and the mere fact i have yet to see one Cayman Islands advertising ad on any network other than some two bit shady Hollywood mention of some detective show. Yes but let this UNITY ppm “gowerment” enjoy their little time in the sun deluding themselves and keep importing this hoard who keep eroding and destroying our Cayman brand. We shall soon see the benefits of this little work permit fiasco they keep floating our economy with? Careful what you wish for Cayman multinational situations bring international problems!




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  3. Anonymous says:

    In 2 more years we will not have cruise passengers go to 7 mile beach. Royal Palms is turning into Hotel property and Calico Jack will be knocked down for Kimpton and new condo beach. Public beach does not have a bar or restaurant. Everyday vendors cross over and steer Calico’s customers away to their side of the beach to rent chairs? We are in trouble unless Gov’t acquires public beach with facilities for Cruisers. They need to rent chairs, umbrellas, bar, restaurant and watersports. I suggest building a new Governors’ house behind somewhere like Canal point, Vista del Mar where there is security. The future is changing rapidly here, need to plan for the future. We were so preoccupied saving the swamp we forgot the 7 mile beach. If they incorporate twin pines and Governors’ house and build bar, restaurant like Calico then we can hang on for a couple more years. I’ve heard Barkers beach but the area is too shallow and has sea grass. Cruisers will want 7 mile.




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  4. Anonymous says:

    You really don’t have room for more cruise tourists.




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  5. Anonymous says:

    So everyone knows about the huge ministerial conflict of interest, we all know that the cruise berthing proposal is self serving to the highest extent
    and I GUARANTEE that some of the profit to be had from this proposal will end up in the hands of the PPM and will be used to fund campaigns and expenses in the coming years if it is approved




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    • Anonymous says:

      This is bullpoop…if you are related to or share a last name with a murderer, does that make you complicit in the murder..
      Grow up.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Yep I’m sure there are no conflicts of interest, because who wouldn’t want to funnel more money into a family business, right?




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        • Anonymous says:

          These childish remarks degrade the value of a public forum. The records have been printed in past newspapers documenting there is no conflict of interest. Just because a business is owned by a relative does not mean their business is your business. I agree with the previous comment—grow up!

          The news here is that Tourism is doing well, let’s all figure out how we maintain the momentum, and get more Caymanians Benefiting from the growth.




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      • Anonymous says:

        When does family ever look out for family right




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      • Anonymous says:

        Not a relevant analogy




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    • West bay Premier says:

      Anonymous 2:39pm , very good point you made. That’s why I think that Mr Kirkconnell don’t want to see and understand that overcrowding of the island by the penny spenders he wants to be arriving by cruise ship would destroy the Islands Tourism . I wonder if Mr Kirkconnell know how much that the stay over Tourist complain about how they can’t get into the stores and restaurants because of over crowding by the cruise ship visitors. I heard those complaints from the 1980’s . Do he understand that when you have the Island over populated and you have another time the population arriving daily that there’s going to be great problems with overcrowding on the Roads and water and everywhere .

      Which Tourist is more important to make sure that they leave the Island happy and will return to the Island ? Stay over Tourist or the cruise ship Visitors ? Wouldn’t it make sense to be working with the smaller amount of Tourists who are leaving the most money in the Economy to avoid the problems
      Mr Kirkconnell need to remember that the Island is still only 24×8 miles.




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      • West bay Premier says:

        I know that the kirkboths would go after my other comment I just posted , but it’s just what Mr Kirkconnell need to hear .




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      • Anonymous says:

        So, Cayman doesn’t want the cruise ships tourists and doesn’t want the “bottom feeder” tourists? Interesting. Maybe the tourists need to know.




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      • Anonymous says:

        I’m part of the tourism industry, and I can tell you DOT Is working with both. It is clear they understand the value that each brings to our island. It’s not just the amount of money a tourist spends, but also which Caymanian jobs those tourist dollars support. Taxis, tour operators, and the like are important jobs.




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  6. Anonymous says:

    Tourism Minister and DoT are always over-eager to attribute circumstantial or accidental success to their recurring spendthrift marketing capers – disregarding the underlying and obvious (to everyone else) realities. There were a series of hurricanes this year that clobbered all but a handful of Caribbean destinations. Period. We were just lucky to be among the last ones standing. It has nothing to do with “meal deliveries” or doing the “quadrille in Times Square”, handing out ice cream or putting on Sponge Bob costumes. 2017 was a gimme…next year we will struggle to match those numbers without more sophisticated marketing and professional audit of our visitor experience. Professionalism has been neglected for a long time. DoT should have leaving guest surveys and suggestion boxes to wake up to how inadequate and misguided their inputs have been. Thank you to all of the friendly residents and everyone else in the industry that has had to personally apologize, accommodate, spit shine, smooth the bumps, and patch the holes in our product offering, to ensure our visitors leave happy. Those are the real heroes here. One day, hopefully, there will be more awareness of DoT responsibilities.




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  7. Anonymous says:

    For all those against the cruise berthing facilities, just “Wake Up and Smell the Coffee”. because if you want to remain as the only port in the entire Caribbean without berths and you wish to continue tendering you obviously and naively wish NOT to be in cruise tourism, because as the older smaller cruise ship end their economic operation life, they will be sent to scrap in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh to be broken up and recycled, however the cruise industry will not be building anymore small cruise ships to suit the Cayman cruise market. Instead we will have 4000 – 4500 people unemployed and NO passenger head tax earnings for Government and the tenders and taxis will also be out of business from a total lack of business. PLEASE look at the whole picture and not just part of the picture of the future of cruise tourism.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Did you not see the 5000 plus passenger cruise ships tendering.




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    • Sleepless in South Sound says:

      It is the DESTINATION which lures the traveler, not the DOCK. Cayman is popular for a myriad of reasons, but the main ingredients are our renowned beaches with crystal waters and inviting people. The new cruise piers will wreak havoc on the coastline with silt, dead coral, loss of marine habitat (guaranteed) and who knows how mother nature will redistribute the sand along 7 mile beach to compensate for the gaping wound we create in central GT? Lets consider the loss of Eden Rock (paradise lost), Atlantis Submarine diving ventures along the southwest of the island….All to accommodate the Wal-Mart type cruisers whom buy a tee-shirt or 3, and 1% chance of selling another rolex….

      Please “wake up and smell what you’re shoveling”




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    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you 9:33! Thank God you have common sense




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  8. Anonymous says:

    It is good to hear how Miss Rosa and all of the tourism group are making business increase.
    It keeps getting better every year.Tips and traffic are up at the hotel I work at. I am glad that I decided to go into the tourism industry. I hope more young Caymanians will too.




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  9. Anonymous says:

    How many more do you need to turn this rock into a place to avoid?




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  10. Anonymous says:

    Business is good at our restaurant. Government doing a good job with keeping the tourists coming.




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    • West bay Premier says:

      Anonymous 7:45am , do you realize that your good food and service and prices could be the contributing factors to your success , and not the Government contributions . But I agree that the Government need to work harder on the stay over Tourist . So don’t give Government all the credit for your success.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you for noticing that our good service is part of what makes us successful, but I have been here a long time with many governments, and I have seen how much better it is with this one! It takes both sides, if they don’t help get the tourist here then our service doesn’t matter.




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        • West bay Premier says:

          Anonymous 1:34pm . Thank you, but you must have good service to make your business successful and nothing else contributed to your success but this Government.




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        • West bay Premier says:

          I have been in the Tourism Industry for many years in the Cayman and never depended on Government for my success and was busy in the off season too . You just have to know to bring your customers back to you and capitalize on your market .




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      • Anonymous says:

        Who are you to lecture him about his business?




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      • Anonymous says:

        WBP, good prices in Cayman? Seriously? Quality is first class without a doubt, but price? Restaurant owners drive Porsche’s




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  11. Anonymous says:

    Just another day in paradise where no one wants to leave.




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  12. nauticalone says:

    And when are we going to pave that terrible piece of road between Rum Point and Kaibo? The same piece where multi-million dollar homes are and where many of our wealthy stay over visitors frequent. Not to mention where many residents also frequent.
    When? There really is no excuse that piece of road is in such terrible condition for so very many years!




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    • Anonymous says:

      We need to pave Mcfield shortcut by GT primary. There are 100 vehicles going through there every 15 mins.




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  13. Anonymous says:

    Great news to hear. More planes coming in and enough lodging to house the visitors.Thank God for his blessings.




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  14. Anonymous says:

    I am just waiting for the news conference from our PM and his sidekick jeweller abandoning the plans for the jewellers much loved cruise pier due to the fact all the megaships can dock and use tenders
    So how about a nice new port, upgrade the infrastructure and the one or two attractions this island has to offer tourists and put out to tender (excuse the pun) for a company to provide fast sleek 21st century boats to rapidly tender our cruise ship tourists.
    Ps you might even save a few hundred million.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Turning the capital into somewhere worth visiting with a green shaded park (no statues or grand statements), malls, cafes, clothes stores, a supermarket fixing much needed road infrastructure, education, incomplete projects, make all beaches island-wide beautiful again, I could go on. For all those stayover tourists pumping money into the local economy as well as for all of us. There are so many other things we need more than piers and cruise ship passengers




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    • Anonymous says:

      I suggested that too. Just get faster tender boats instead of this stupid cruise dock.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Don’t need them since the dock will, by their own consultants, not actually speed up debarkation and embarkation significantly.




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    • Yeap says:

      You tender owners and employee really should upgrade your fleet instead of having tourist ride in those dilapidated boats you call tenders. Just update your fleet and stop proposing new fleet. Even with the dock the other 4 ships are still going to have to tender. The dock is only intended for the mega ships with 6000 passengers and above. Please note 4500 passengers cruiselines is still not really considered Mega.
      Please spend some of that $4.50cent per passenger you are making. Last year alone you made more than six million.
      Cns can you enquire why there is no competition in the tender business? Competition in business always leads to innovation which leads to cost reduction and effeciency except with gas stations.




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  15. Anonymous says:

    The case for stayover (luxury) tourism is strong, as is the injection into the local economy from annual spend. Mysteriously absent from Mr Kirkconnel’s speech however, were the (bargain basement) cruise visitors annual spend which I suspect fades in comparison. Fact is stayovers spend big money in Cayman, whereas cruise passengers are mostly on all inclusive cruises, meaning they eat, drink, shop, etc. on the ship and spend pocket money in Cayman. The stayovers buy the diamonds and come back to buy property. At the very best only a handful of cruise ship passengers spend big money on land. Most blew their budget getting on the boat in the first place.




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  16. Anonymous says:

    Build our dock!




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    • ROFLOL says:

      Kirkbots don’t like the stats that prove no need for cruise berthiing. ROFLOL




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      • Anonymous says:

        I have nothing to do with Kirk or jewelery retard. It’s common sense, oh we don’t want a dock 10 years later number of ships declines simply because they are upsizing I wish you would take your finger out. My children will not suffer because of you ignorant people. So yes we need a dam dock..




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        • Daniel Foster says:

          @7:02: .. Don’t be calling people “retard”. There’s a saying, “It takes one to know one”, which in your case is very apt. You also mentioned common sense…… Well, I’m sorry, but you seem to be sadly lacking there also. And where do you get that “We” stuff…… are you a member of some group of weirdos? We, and here I’m speaking for the majority of Caymanians…… DON’T want that stupid, expensive and unnecessary dock. If the government wants to spend a few million more dollars, do something other than talk about the dump!




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  17. Anonymous says:

    I’m just going to say great! Good news. Happy and prosperous new year. Those of you who wish to find the downside may now proceed.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman has doubled/tripled the prices since the recent devastation of the other islands. I can no longer justify the price. Yes, I was a budget traveler to your island staying at the “ lower end” hotels, but once on island, I ate, drank, shopped , hit the nightlife and rented a car. I also visited 2-3, sometimes 4 times a year for the past 20 years. I am now searching for another destination to holiday. You may have record numbers this year, but what happens when the other islands recover? Was raising the prices worth it? Maybe it was and loosing a loyal guest to your islands is no loss.




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      • Fake News says:

        You gave yourself away in the last sentence.




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        • Anonymous says:

          Gave myself away? As a tourist or a US tourist? Not quite understanding your point?




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          • Anonymous says:

            loosing was the clue




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            • Anonymous says:

              My apologies for the terrible grammar/ spell check error, but I am actually one of your loyal US tourists who has been coming to your island since 1998. My last trip down was August and I would have been down for NY eve, but prices were too high.




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              • Anonymous says:

                Not going to argue- price it out. Talk to managers of hotels. Prices are way up- bottom line. If you don’t want to believe I was a loyal visitor- what can I do? Show you my passport stamps? Lol. I can’t justify the increase. My 2 cents.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Cayman isn’t for everyone. We’re not interested in a race to the bottom feeder market. Best of luck and safe travels.




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        • Anonymous says:

          That’s what Bermuda said when they wanted only the rich and famous to visit their shores and raised their prices. For years their hotels have had empty rooms. Is that what you want Cayman? Think before you get rid of the loyal “ bottom feeder market “. The rich want exotic destinations in a new spot each year- villas and homes, not the Ritz and Kimpton.




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  18. Anonymous says:

    How will gowermint justify the dock project after these record results?
    Moses and Alden will need to get creative with the plan now since the ships keep bringing passengers in record numbers after all their cayman needs a dock nonsense!!




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    • Anonymous says:

      According to Moses’ speech, they will have it by 2023!




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    • Anonymous says:

      i think this article did not factor in the re-routing of ships after the hurricane damage to other countries. it would be interesting to see the figures in breakdown by quarters.




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      • Anonymous says:

        It is said cruise ships up 1% and that the variance due to the hurricanes was “slight”. Source: compass.




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      • Tut alors!. says:

        3.46pm Good point but the hurricane damage also has to be factored in on the stayover numbers. Note that last year’s severe storm damage did not receive the slightest mention in the glowing reports from our goverment offcials claiming all the accolades for the increased numbers. Maybe they should give us some figures on our tourist arrivals after Ivan so they can figure how many of our visitors diverted to other Caribbean destinations.




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  19. Anonymous says:

    That’s the last straw hat. We need that dock NOW!




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  20. John Q. Public says:

    Dear PPM Government

    Cayman does not need an expensive cruise berthing facility. The evidence is in the record number of cruise passengers that continue to visit Cayman just look at the data provided by the Ministry of Tourism.

    Please do not spend money on an unnecessary project just to satisfy some retail merchants and place the country in massive debt when there are so many other priorities and now you have proof that the cruise lines love to visit and will continue to call into the Cayman Islands because it is the best stop on the cruise intinery.




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    • Dunz says:

      Strange that Jamaica is also singing the same tune of breaking records. The choice of islands is picked by the companies. The people go for the best deals. By saying that they pick Cayman because…. means that it is on par with Jamaica and the other islands visited. As for stop overs jamaica has a higher turn over.




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  21. Anon says:

    We really need to work a lot harder at making the tourist feel welcome and enjoy their vacation so that they will have a positive memorable experience and want to return each year. Our tourist attractions need a big boosting up with more written information and other historic facts for our visitors. Sadly some of the sites that the tourist stop at are in need of a face lift, such as Hell and the Wreck of the Ten Sails site. This latter site is a very dangerous site to walk around with the uneven and rocky surface causing numerous tourist to fall and injure themselves. The unsightly chunks of concrete that is supposed to represent the 6 sailors who died are, lets say a little disgraceful to look at. The trees and foliage is over grown. Water settles at the entrance and chickens are roosting out front creating a “fowl” odour. The sea coast on the North East part of island is no longer visible as the old birch trees have now grown in some cases out in the side of the road and up to the electrical wires. This coastline used to be a favourite sightseeing tour but with the coast now overgrown it is a rather boring tedious drive. It seems like I am full of complaints, but I see too much complacency in the administration.




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    • Dunz says:

      Too true and the usual ex-pat bashing is being fed back causing people to go elsewhere. Nonetheless, Cayman remains a paradise although Dart will soon monopolize majority of island.




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  22. Anonymous says:

    Looks like the usual commenters could not care less.




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  23. Anonymous says:

    In order to encourage continued growth in the stay over sector, we should build a cruise berthing facility




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  24. Anonymous says:

    Caymanians, please take note.
    There is tremendous opportunity to partake in this pie of stay-over tourism.

    An extra $3,000.00 every month is easily attainable.

    Speaking from personal experience, it is not very difficult to upgrade or convert a family-owned property to the CIG / DOT required standard to list on AirBnb, TripAdvisor, Expedia, etc.
    Also, bookings are easily managed via smartphone apps so you can do everything from the comfort of your everyday life.

    Visitors are actively searching for these types of properties over traditional hotels and condos.
    It is a new day in global travel, and although the above is barely mentioned in our official circles, for obvious reasons, many of us are sitting on “silver mines” without realising.

    Key amenities to bear in mind;
    Air conditioning
    WiFi availability
    Parking space
    Functional kitchen (a simple supply of bread, juice, milk, coffee and tea goes a long way!)
    Television
    Sofa bed
    Hammocks
    Outside leisure areas, e.g. set of tables and chairs under the tree (tourists WANT to be in the warm sunshine, as opposed to us wanting to be in A/C comfort)
    Crib, children’s equipment
    Snorkeling equipment
    Paddleboard (big plus nowadays)

    Contact DOT and enquire about how to get your property registered.

    *Siblings, rather than squabbling over dearly departed mom’s home – combine resources, upgrade, and convert into a profitable and appreciating asset – use that income to fund (all) your kids’ university expenses.
    Grannie will smile down on you from heaven.

    DO NOT SELL YOUR CAYMAN PROPERTY! Turn it into an investment instead.

    Good luck,

    – Whodatis




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    • Anonymous says:

      …forgot the eggs!

      – Who
      😉




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    • Anonymous says:

      Who, that is the best comment you have possibly ever written, positive, upbeat and sound advice. Wish you could do more like that!




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    • West bay Premier says:

      Whodatis I agree with your comment and the good advice you’re giving people . However the last sentence of the comment. There’s great problems with achieving that , just looking at all the bureucratic BS the Government has put on everyone that prevents one from getting ahead so easy today . One instance of this Government BS , if you owned a house outright and wanted to start a business with that house , how much money the Government require you to have to just start that business today ? And how do you get around it if you can ?

      I would say that everyone should have a stern talk with ALL of your Representatives about this bureucratic BS that Government has inplace today .




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      • Anonymous says:

        Very valid point(s) WBP.

        Everything you say is true. In fact, I even referenced these issues in the original draft of my post but decided to omit in order to maintain a positive energy.

        Hopefully our institutions get their act together soon.

        Appreciate the feedback.

        – Who




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  25. West bay Premier says:

    He really wants that cruise ship pier with tunnels leading to the jewelry stores so bad .
    Tell Mr Kirkconnell to focus on the stay over Tourist they are the ones that leaves money for everyone and in the Economy and forget about the cruise ship pier .




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    • Dunz says:

      Unless the cruise ships demand it don’t bother with it that is what contributes towards Cayman being different to other countries and islands. Do you hear the passengers complaining about it.




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  26. nauticalone says:

    Congrats yes! But we must keep in mind that Cayman is very small and so can handle only a finite quantity before quality suffers. Infrastructure needs such as new Airport expansion are very good. But especially garbage collection / disposal must be addressed urgently because if left as is currently will leave a very negative impression and will undo all progress made.
    And I do not think increasing cruise visitors by building proposed port will help Cayman as a whole. Too many cruise visitors will require ever increasing infrastructure costs. And the popular tourist sites such as seven mile beach and stingray city / sandbar are already over capacity on a full cruise day. This does not give a good impression to stay over visitors especially who spend far more per visit than cruise visitors.




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    • Dunz says:

      Wait until the rubbish and dump begins to be noticed by the tourist, a few tweets will cause more problems than the lack of a port.




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    • Anonymous says:

      The point of the cruise docks is not to increase tourist arrivals. (Their reports are all based on a 1% annual increase, which we achieved this year.) The argument is that somehow without giant docks the cruise ships will go away. (The new mega-ships don’t want to tender. The cruise companies don’t want to go where they don’t control the infrastructure or where tourists spend a lot of time away from the ship.) – The issue is more complicated than docks = more tourists.




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