Minister avoids cruise issue at tourism showcase

| 18/10/2018 | 34 Comments
Cayman News Service

Public Beach on Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman

(CNS): Speaking to an audience of industry stakeholders who sell the Cayman Islands tourism brand around the world on Tuesday, Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell promoted the destination’s pristine underwater experience, but avoided mentioning the planned destruction of it with the proposed cruise project. Kirkconnell only referred to the controversial cruise port and cargo project in passing at the 2018 Tourism Conference and instead focused on the success of overnight tourism, noting the importance of diving and the marine environment for attracting those guests.

Kirkconnell said that Cayman’s “incredible underwater experience” was one of the best in the world, as he spoke about the unique “reefs, wrecks and plunging coral walls” that allow visitors a different dive attraction every day of their stay.

But the tourism minister made no mention of the significant loss and damage to the reefs that the cruise berthing project will have on George Town Harbour if it goes ahead. The minister did not discuss the damage it will bring to several of the wrecks he spoke about or some of the Cayman Islands’ other unique dive sites.

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The comments made it clear, however, that the minister does recognise the significance of the marine habitat to the overnight tourism product that the event was showcasing.

The minister was also keen to promote the development taking place in the accommodation sector that will help expand the existing room stock, which already stands at more than 6,520.

The minister said that Cayman’s room stock is expected to grow some 20% over the next two years. But that figure is dependent on the completion of projects that may never actually come to fruition, such as the long promised but never started Beach Bay resort and the more recent Pageant Beach hotel in George Town, the start date for which appears to have been delayed again.

Other projects such as the NCB boutique hotel in George Town and Dart’s renovation of the Beach Suites on seven Mile Beach are now underway.

But Kirkconnell also noted the increase in B&B accommodation, which is where Cayman appears to be experiencing significant growth. The partnership with Airbnb and the increase in the popularity of other online accommodation platforms has seen a lot more local people renting out rooms to guests, providing another way of increasing room stock that offers not only a more authentic experience but a direct benefit to Caymanians.

The stakeholders at the event also heard that 2018 is proving to be another great year for overnight visitors to Cayman, up on last year’s record-breaking 12 months. By the end of August overnight guest numbers were up more than 13% on 2017, setting 2018 on track to exceed the 418,000 people last year, which was the first time the islands had ever seen more than 400,000 guests visit in one year.

Tourism Director Rosa Harris gave an overview of the marketing strategies that have driven the increase in visitor numbers. But she also revealed how much overnight guests contribute to government coffers when she revealed that so far this budget year, her department has already collected more than $4 million over budget expectations in accommodation licences and fees.

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Category: Business, Tourism

Comments (34)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    He also avoids talking about the Dump!
    Her Majesty, the Dump, is within 3 miles radius from “luxury” resorts, hotels and “pristine” water.
    This constitutes false advertisement for it intentionally ommits material facts that would influence decision of an average person to visit Grand Cayman. Those, selling Grand Cayman as an upscale, luxury destination could be held liable had anyone tried to challenge them.
    You have to be blind, deaf and dumb not to see that everything, from sea to air, flora and fauna is contaminated with toxic elements and substances. Tourism industry professionals KNOW that ( or at least must know),yet continue selling Grand Cayman to unsuspecting visitors as a pristine destination.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Does the Hon Minister actually scuba dive? Based on his comments I somehow doubt it because if he did he’d be aware of the steady deterioration in the condition of many popular dive sites. I first visited these islands in 1992 and now, with experience of diving all over the world, really find it a struggle to regard the diving off Grand Cayman as anything like ‘incredible’.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The sad truth is that tourism and the tourism product is not a real priority of this or previous governments. They are far more concerned with “growth” than with preserving the reason people come to visit Cayman. But they have to keep smoke in mirrors, because the industry was once a pillar of the economy. In terms of tourism, Cayman had the beaches, diving, tranquility and safety as it’s main attractions. Look at what they have done and are doing in each area and tell me what they are doing to preserve each of these areas. The opposite is closer to the truth. Then take a look at the ESO statistics and see where the bulk of income, employment, etc. are in the country and you can see that Tourism is not their priority. The sad truth is that group with the biggest $$ speaks loudest to them and that is where they focus their energy. Everything else is smoke in mirror to give voters the illusion that they are doing something about their concerns. Think about it.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    I attend the conference and left truly amazed and blessed to live in the cayman islands. CNS you sadly missed the comments from the famous and respected economist who said that Cayman has the best run government in the Caribbean.

    There is simply no bad news here.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I attended as well but I didn’t go with my head up Moses’s ass. He talks a good talk but sadly is out of touch.

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    • Ron Ebanks says:

      8 :55 pm , and that isn’t saying much for the other governments , if Caymans is the best . But off course what else would you have expected him to say . A fisherman never say his bait is stink , and Moses know that . To me they all sounded like used car salesmen trying to sell a good old car .

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    • Anonymous says:

      I actually 100% agree that our government is probably the best run in the Caribbean. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have major problems. Look at the issues some other Caribbean countries are having. Why should that be the standard we judge ourselves by?

      Still, it is nice to have some perspective. For everything wrong with this country, we definitely have it better than many!

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      • Anonymous says:

        10:26 All that comment means is that you’ve never lived or worked in any other Caribbean country. I’ll tell you one place that is better run that the Cayman Islands – Cuba. Despite the fact it’s still technically a dictatorship they’ve embraced both free enterprise capitalism and attracted real outside investment in a way that puts these islands to shame.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Then why are their people washing up on our shores so often. Obviously they are not benefiting from the free enterprise.

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      • Anonymous says:

        We could and should be better but I tell you what, when I read other Caribbean news I am still happy that I live on this 2×4 rock.

    • Anonymous says:

      And you must be deaf, dumb, and blind, Mr. 8:55.

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    • Anonymous says:

      If you had to go to the conference even though you live here to hear that Cayman has the best run government in the Caribbean then you haven’t been paying attention. However please bear in mind that “apparently the bar is set way too low”

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    • Anonymous says:

      we do not need to be comparing ‘bad’ and ‘worse’
      We have always been ahead of the Eastern Caribbean, lets keep it that way, please.

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  4. Ron Ebanks says:

    This article sounds just like how a politician would talk at campaign rally , but I believe that how the event went . Just talks about the pro’s , but not a word about the con’s .

    I think that this event would have been a good time for him Moses to had got a third opinion about this pier project if he had mentioned it . But that shows that he has it set in stone in his head . People be aware .

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  5. Anonymous says:

    400,000 overnight guests. If they spent an average room cost of $370 a night (#1) say $50 a day on food minimum and say $100 on excursions minimum and $100 on souvenirs minimum. VS 1.5mln cruise passengers spending $135 each.

    400,000 x $620 = $248,000,000 MINIMUM

    1,500,000 x $135 = $202,500,000

    Yes I am pulling numbers out of the hat for the most part and I am sure those prices are much more than that but the point it 400,000 give us more retail income than the cruise ship passengers. More reason to promote stay over guests than increasing cruise passenger numbers and promote more over crowding of our beaches and attractions. George Town cannot handle more cruise tourists walking the street as it is.

    #1 – https://www.caymancompass.com/2017/12/07/cayman-has-caribbeans-highest-hotel-prices-study-finds/

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    • Stay over says:

      Majority of Caymanians do not benefit from stay over tourism. Stay over tourism business have the highest Work permit ratio out of all categories. Dispute that. By the way i only support one pier because i believe the cost for the country would be too much for two.

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      • Anonymous says:

        @SO Nope I won’t dispute that the high WP ratio is there but my question would be why is that? Do they not hire Caymanians and again I would ask why is that. Are there not Caymanians trained to do the jobs? with no way to get any vocational training getting that job is impossible but the CIG doesn’t really care about education or is it Caymanians see these jobs as below them? Personally I do not support the pier BUT I would also prefer one instead of two for the same reason and to minimize the environmental damage.

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      • Ron Ebanks says:

        Stay Over , you could’ve added the first sentence of your comment to the pier part of the comment . Or better said Caymanians won’t get any business from that one pier you’re suggesting .

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      • Anonymous says:

        That is why AirBnB needs to become more established here. The money goes directly to locals and tourists get a more authentic experience. It is win win

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    • Anonymous says:

      What is sad about stay over tourism they really don’t spend that kind of money to restaurants outside of their hotels. They don’t spend $100 a day on Excursions, nor $100 a day on souvernir. The value of hotel stay goes out of the country. The Caymanian side of that money is no more then CI$ 40-48 per day for the room maid. So out of that $370-48=$322 is really going back to the share holders. That is why very rich companies or indivduals pay 100’s of millions of dollars for a hotel. When you put down the real figures we really not impacting the populace. How many times can they see Stingray city? So you mean 40 Dive companies, that average 6-8 divers paying discounted dive packages US$480-640 per day $3840 per week and less then that, probably less then that during their off season? Plus most families rent a van.No-no not really that much money is spent with the locals at all.

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      • Anonymous says:

        @6:42 This is true but the same can also be cruise passengers to a degree. They are wisked out of the cruise terminal for their tours for either the entire day before dropping them back only to have a little time to shop or they are carted around the island to specific stops so only a select set of people benefit so out of the supposed $135 that is spent by the cruise passengers, Close to $100 of that is spent on excursions and taxi/tour busses.

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      • Fred the Piemaker says:

        There are a number of problems with your assessment. First, the number of overnight tourists – the 400K figure is the headcount, not the number of days and nights they stay. As of 2 years ago the average stay was 6 nights. So the daily spend to compare with cruisers is 2.4 million days, not 400K. You are no doubt right that they don’t spend every single day on excursions or on souvenirs, nad maybe as little as once during their stay, but they spend everyday on food, on entertainment, on a hotel room. And whilst I suspect they don’t all eat in the hotel every day as you suggest, and a lot of them are probably condo stayers who shop for groceries rather than eating out every single day, they still eat every day. A lot of them will hire cars from local vendors or use taxis – how else do they get around. That food is bought from local stores. The electricity and water they use is provided by local companies. Every single thing they consume comes from a local vendor, and has local taxes attached to it. Those staying in hotels pay 13% tourist accommodation tax. Your suggestion that every dollar they are charged by a hotel other than paying the chamber maid goes out the country is simply rubbish. They spend a huge amount of money that stays in the country, including a significant amount that goes to pay government taxes that pay for our schools, our infrastructure, our civil servants wages, social support programs and even our politicians. The cruise ship tourists spend on average $115 a day.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    “Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell promoted the destination’s pristine underwater experience, but avoided mentioning the planned destruction of it with the proposed cruise project” Really CNS ? Destruction of the total underwater experience? Because that is the impression you give with your very biased reporting..

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    • Anonymous says:

      They “forgot” to mention lots of things. The Dump and incinerators for example.
      ““Burning municipal waste, especially in the absence of pollution filters, is often viewed as risky for a community because these emissions can contain many different toxins, such as heavy metals, pesticides, or plastics,” said Mr. Peltier, who is an atmospheric chemist and researches human exposure to air pollutants. “This can lead to sickness and even death in a community because these pollutants can travel great distances from an incinerator.” ( Compass, October 8, 2018)

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  7. Anonymous says:

    2.36pm Since you are against Government providing a little Christmas cheer for a large number of unemployed Caymanians with the NICE programme, why don’t you be nice and take over the programme this Christmas. That way you can’t accuse the government of vote buying and if you are lucky you might just inherit that title.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    The CI Port collects $2.46/cruise passenger. Last year’s all time record of 1.5mln passengers added $3mln to CIG Revenue. That’s it. They will fart away most of cruise tourism’s collections via their predictable upcoming annual pre-Christmas vote buying work projects…

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