DoT defends $12.3M PR and ad agency deals

| 21/06/2024 | 44 Comments
Cayman News Service
DoT’s ‘Dream in Cayman’ promotion, launched in 2019, was created by TRG, an agency based in Dallas

(CNS): The Department of Tourism has defended the decision to sign contracts, collectively worth $12.3 million, with a public relations firm and an advertising agency, a move that led to considerable public comment. The two deals cover a five-year period and will promote the destination in North America and around the world. The DoT noted that tourism generates $46.5 million annually in direct tax revenues from airport fees, hotel licensing fees, accommodation and timeshare tax.

“Tourism drives economic stimulation that benefits a diverse offering of local businesses including restaurants, retail, ground transport, sites and attractions, tour operators and event management companies,” the DoT argued in a release defending the deals with ad agency Grey and PR firm Praytell. The department said its mission was “to drive visitation that contributes to the government tax revenue streams and supports local businesses”.

The DoT said it has been using agencies for almost 30 years because representation in the countries where visitors come from is important, as is having agencies that understand the markets and can act as strategic advisors in communications, advertising and media outreach.

With its budget allocation remaining the same every year, the DoT said it continually seeks “ways to maximize our funds and modernize the way we do business. We were able to find cost efficiencies by taking expiring contracts with USA, UK and Canadian creative agencies and replacing them with one creative agency to achieve one global retainer fee instead of three.”

The DoT said the contracts went through “a robust procurement process” after the existing contracts expired.

“The new global creative agency will be tasked with creating one brand campaign that will resonate with visitors across all our source markets, including Latin America. In addition to creating the brand campaign, the agencies are also responsible for managing our presence over thousands of advertising placement channels and producing all advertising mechanicals needed to fulfil our advertising plan globally.”

The department said it “stands behind the agencies that were selected and looks forward to showing the public the results of the approved annual advertising investments”.

However, the DoT made no comment about the decision to invite a social media influencer, her fiancé and all their friends to have their bachelorette and bachelor parties here at the taxpayers’ expense, which has stirred up even more public controversy than the agency deals. The DoT has still not said exactly how much that trip will be costing the public purse.

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Category: Business, Tourism

Comments (44)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    No country should spend 26% of the possible return on marketing.
    460k per month, Not today Bobo.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The 12 million would have been better spent on helping small groups of caymanians open 5 nightclubs targeting different types of age groups, and at least 10 beach bars.

    At the very least if we want the young age group coming, then need somewhere to go. Al the fun casual beach bars are closed. There’s one single nightclub for the tourists.

    Have a hop on hop off bus to pick people up to bar hop. Bring back the mini golf. In other words have things for people to do.

    Or if diving is our main tourism offering, why aren’t the influencers divers? I don’t see where that was mentioned. Why aren’t we putting in more dive sites and cultivating interesting things for people to see? Why isn’t fishing restricted to Caymanians only to restrict the overfishing from uninformed work permit holders? Why isn’t there an expensive fishing permit for tourists who want to fish? Why aren’t the jugglers cleared from the public beach? Why are we cheapening our product yet want HNM and UHNW? If they wanted to see higglers they would go to a cheaper Caribbean island.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I have said this before and will say it again because no one seems to take this up. We spend millions to send our Cayman students overseas. How about as part of the scholarship package, each recipient receives an advertising pack from the DOT with flags, shirts, marketing material. Have each student advertise on their personal facebook, snapchat, IG, tiktok, whatever the trending thing is at the time to then tag DOT and whatever attractions the Cayman Islands has and the university the student attends, have designated hashtags and tag their friends. Then each student for one day each semester must have a table set up in the main area approved by the university to advertise for the Cayman Islands. We are already giving these students free money. Aside from them paying back the Cayman Islands by becoming a contributing member of society. They can assist with bringing the exact age bracket that the influencer was to bring in.

    You won’t spend 12 million extra and word of mouth is always better from a true local. Even if it is an expat turned local. Then give everyone who goes off to school a course on the Cayman Islands and a booklet prior to departing.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is what’ll happen: the students will get this material, pocket it and probably never use any of it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Then don’t renew their scholarship. Simple.

        Either the conditions of the scholarship is met or don’t meet them and have the scholarship rescinded. Simple.

        The important bit is to tag DOT and add all the trending hashtags.

    • Anonymous says:

      “How about as part of the scholarship package”…let me stop you there. Very few college-bound from Cayman get a free scholarship. Cayman should not be marketing to teen-scrollers. They are not the household decision makers.

      • Anonymous says:

        Better plan than what govt has in play! Ever heard of spring breakers?!

        Besides the ones that go wild. Cayman’s drinking age is 18. Ideal for Americans. Cayman has the benefit of safety and free beaches.

      • Anonymous says:

        Cayman scholarship recipients would not target teens. Universities have employees, alumni, community wide interactions. Not all university students are teens. Did you complete your masters and PHD in your teens? Carefully crafted hashtags market niches which may or may not include teens. Sounds like you may be one of the decision makers who thought giving overseas marketing agencies 12 million to market Cayman is a brilliant idea. Can these agencies even say Grand CayMAN or are they calling us the Caymens?

        You also sound ageist, fossilized with your mindset and behind with technological advances as many younger people earn money online (YouTube, IG, TikTok, Amazon) and are not only the breadwinners of the family but have significant spending capacity that value visiting a safe country.

  4. CIG: Get a clue ! says:

    To CIG: Seeing as a whopping 98% of readers who voted have a negative view of this expenditure, it’s high time to accept that people are telling you: CIG, STOP WASTING OUR MONEY !!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Does that picture seriously show a woman sitting on a giant iguana? LMAO

    So they trying to make the equivalent of Never-ending story awa?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, you know how many tourists we have had to tell that there are no iguana rides available and can’t actually do this since these ads? A lot!

    • Anonymous says:

      The GOT and underwater nightmare visions were creepy million dollar misadventures from Rosa Harris. 2010’s SpongeBobSquarepants debacle should have been her termination moment and she’s wasted millions upon millions now.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Government just wasting money as usual on things which are not needed. But have no money to spend on things that is needed to make the lives of the Caymanian people better. They should all be ashamed of themselves.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I guess you couldn’t spend 10 seconds Googling it then!

    • Anonymous says:

      The Grand Paris campaign is designed to inform inhabitants of Paris all that Paris has to offer. It is NOT intended to attract visitors to the city.
      Googling can be helpful. Reading what you have googled is even better.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Do we need overseas agencies in the regions where tourists come from because they understand the local market and can act as strategic advisors? Or do we need global agencies because of the cost efficiencies? Which is it?

    • Anonymous says:

      Both, plus the low-bar mental acuity to really rip off our resident decision maker Rosa Harris, and have her agree to sign off on DoT’s next boondoggle.

  9. Anonymous says:

    It’s been widely reported that TikTok, as an ongoing media platform, faces big curbs in North America, it might not even exist in 6 months. So seeking to make impressions on 3.5mln teenscrollers, might be closer to zero.

  10. Say it like it is says:

    This new agency (which no doubt wrote the D.O.T’s press release for them), are doing the Cayman taxpayer a disservice by not pointing out to the D.O.T. that money spent on Latin America will never entice Latin Americans to visit Cayman. They all want to visit Florida which has far more attractions, much cheaper hotels and airfares and above all hordes of shopping malls.If they go elsewhere it will be Europe.

    • Anonymous says:

      The DOT doesn’t understand our domestic economy and who they should serve and why. They just want more, without a plan or set of targeting criteria. There are UHNW within the business centers of Latin America and they have their own planes.

  11. Anonymous says:

    What percentage of arriving moneyed overnight guests (ex-Cruise) even have the TikTok app installed on their phones? Is it over 5%?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Given the owners of the hotels and all the restaurants and bars are effectively the same, could we ask how much they are contributing to advertise the jurisdiction (given they are effectively the only ones receiving the profits – or is the deal that the Caymanian people pay to advertise their products for them)?

  13. Anonymous says:

    For the body of evidence, and millions in wasted opportunity capital, Cayman needs to fire Rosa Harris, but can’t do it for some reason.

  14. Anonymous says:

    “The new global creative agency will be tasked with creating one brand campaign that will resonate with visitors across all our source markets…” Oh my, I really hope this freeloaders aren’t the one brand campaign! 😂

  15. Anonymous says:

    Marketing 101: KNOW your market, identifying sources of high revenue and steady revenue. Other than an obviously poor briefing from DoT and dodgy statistics, how TF do some fancy marketing company in Dallas have any real appreciation of Cayman’s unique attributes and selling points. Whilst there may be the odd HNW or UHNW kid on the block who can afford to come here, they don’t tend to follow freeloaders and opportunists on social media. Wrong market segment completely.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Who did they pay to write their defence of the act of paying others to do their job?





    Do Tell…..

  17. Influencer made her do it says:

    I thought that was the job of DOT to market the Cayman Islands and not to be a Middle woman. So DoT 30 million budget is just to pay influencer and Marketing companies. Why do we need 90 staff for that? one member is enough if they are not going to do the work themselves.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Tourism may generate $46.5 million annually in direct revenue to government, but it costs much more in environmental, social and cultural harm. As currently operating it overstretches our infrastructure and diminishes the quality of life of many in this country. It no longer employs Caymanians, Caymanians no longer own the businesses that service it, and the industries’ employment practices are sometimes nothing short of scandalous. It is directly creating social issues and divisions where none previously existed. It could and should be so good, contributing to the lives and livelihood of large numbers of traditional Caymanians, but that is not how it is playing out, is it? Hell, it is hard to even spot a Caymanian on any of the construction sites building the next round of ugly concrete monoliths, built with little or no regard of the culture and environment they now seek to dominate.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Disgraceful. That kind of money could have been used to build a one bedroom temporary workman’s accommodation on the Bluff.

  20. Anonymous says:

    This is 2024 not 1984.
    we all know better so ..
    nothing ever change$$ in the Caymans

    • J says:

      More like 1984 in 2024. The only Ministry of Nefarious Ludicrosity we don’t have to contend with currently is the The Ministry of Funny Walks, but hey, give them time. White vehicles with MOFW, are probably a few months out.

  21. Deftoned says:


  22. TheBigCon says:

    Shameful! How will they track the so-called “visitation” that will be a direct result of paying for someone’s wedding party???

  23. Anonymous says:

    Has DoT ever published any figures on the tourist foot fall generated from previous scandalous ad campaigns? For instance:

    How did work out?

  24. Anonymous says:

    Ever wondered why good doctors, good practitioners of any kind, good destinations, good hotels etc. don’t spend money on advertisements? Word of mouth is the best advertisement.
    If a destination spends 12M on its promotion, something isn’t right.

    • Anonymous says:

      122 mill on promotion, X amount of mill in DoT salaries, pensions, health insurance, operating costs, deduct from tourism revenue…. is there anything left?

    • Anonymous says:

      and how do you think visitors come to any destination? if you think it is all word of mouth then you will believe anything

      • Anonymous says:

        Paris is the world’s leading destination. I do not think I have ever seen it advertised.


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