DoT footing bill for influencer’s pre-wedding parties

| 19/06/2024 | 111 Comments
TikTok influencer Mei Mei

(CNS): The Department of Tourism has declined to answer questions from Cayman News Service about how much it is spending on footing the bill for a TikTok influencer’s bachelorette party as well as the bachelor party for her husband-to-be in the Cayman Islands. Responding to questions from CNS about the decision to give the free trip to Mei Mei, her fiancé and all their invitees, officials said in a press statement that it hosts “journalists and influencers” to “showcase what makes the Cayman Islands unique” and penetrate social media channels.

On the social media pages of people in the Cayman Islands, there were questions as to whether this latest promotional effort by the DoT was the best use of its promotional resources. However, a DoT spokesperson said it had chosen to partner with Mei Mei for many reasons.

“She is located outside of Atlanta, which is a direct airlift market for us, and her demographics fit our visitor profile,” they said. “She has more than three million followers on TikTok and more than 250k followers on Instagram. 88% of her followers are located in the United States with 2% in Canada. Her top states for followers include California, Texas, Florida and New York, which are key markets for the destination. Her average engagement rate is 49% (the industry average is 2%), and she has a TikTok growth rate of 30%, meaning she is among 30% of the best-performing profiles.”

Over the weekend, Mei Mei posted a video about speaking to a “whole government” in the Cayman Islands and being offered the trip, which was picked up by local Instagram page @everythin345. However, it appears that she was referring to one of the DoT’s new US-based agencies, Praytell, which recently secured a contract worth more than $2.8 million with the department. It appears the agency decided to make the generous offer after seeing a previous post by the influencer.

The DoT has not responded to our request about the costs but said they were anticipating significant engagement from Mei Mei and her friends throughout their trip to Grand Cayman.

“We are providing luxury accommodations at Black Urchin in Bodden Town for the group, which allows us to highlight the accommodations offerings off Seven Mile Beach,” the DoT said. “The Cayman Islands is known as the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean, and we are showcasing our culinary bona fides via an authentic dining experience with a Caymanian chef and a mixology class highlighting our local rum. We will round out their on-island experience with a boat trip to Stingray City, highlighting one of our most popular attractions.”

The resort charges just over CI$2,000 per night during the summer with a minimum five-night stay, though the DoT has not said when the influencer and her party will arrive.

See Mei Mei’s TikTok video here.


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Category: Business, Tourism

Comments (111)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I think people are missing the most important part of the article: ‘The Department of Tourism has declined to answer questions from Cayman News Service about how much it is spending on footing the bill for a TikTok influencer’s bachelorette party’.

    Where’s the transparency?

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Makes no sense at all to have her come here and all paid for by the Government. This is all so ridiculous! They just love wasting money don’t they?

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Meantime she is on Tik Tok promoting Mexico lol.

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    • Anonymous says:

      These stupid “influencers” are laughing all the way to the bank.

      What we need to do is spend some of this money we are wasting (in this case on a demographic that is not likely to do much vacation travel out of the US) on building up our tourism product. That is, the development of our art and music in the range of genre. What a difference that would make to pour some of that money into our human capital. “If you built it they will come.”

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    • Anonymous says:

      She is not only promoting Mexico, there is a video of her and her boyfriend on a trip 4 days ago in Mexico. Guess, she is hitting up all the islands for free trips?
      Also, love the video of her taking a pregnancy test. Does everything have to be on social media these days?

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Well, not as bad an idea as sponsoring Portsmouth or a Canadian designer handbag company. Probably way more expensive though. maybe that’s what we need as an evaluation tool for DoT – not “value for money””, which presumes value but how much did you spend for no value 😉

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Cayman isn’t a luxury destination anymore. Customer service here is TERRIBLE and everything’s overpriced. People than can afford to come here can also afford Bahamas, Turks, Jamaica & Barbados. You get more value for your money in those countries.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    You can spray💩with Chanel N°5 L’EAU, it won’t change its substance.
    False advertisement. Cayman is not a luxury vacation destination, it is WalMart of the Caribbean.

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    • Anonymous says:

      its not walmart pricing for sure.

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      • Anonymous says:

        true. but it doesn’t change the fact that Cayman in NOT a luxury destination.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Cayman used to be paradise. This Johnny-come-lately washed up as driftwood in 1973 and Cayman was bloody lovely.
          Not to mention the good people who made us feel so welcome on their previous islands.
          There was nothing not to like except a few mosquitoes.
          Then the locusts arrived with the locust narrative.
          How much is a loaf of bread?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Tell us you haven’t visited many places in the Caribbean without telling us you haven’t visited many places in the Caribbean.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Apparently this is the kind of things that tickle Kenneth’s fancy!. Small things amuses small minds”
      Such juvenile behavior from an elected minister.!

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Marketing and media lesson #1 DoT: Know your market. Plainly, you haven’t a clue.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Why does Mr. Peacock think this is something he should spend our sparse dollars on? The rest of the world is laughing!

      14
  8. Anonymous says:

    How will the DoT know, without question, without hesitation, that this Me Me campaign made the golden pots in tourism overflow?

    What is the magic formula that will confirm, without a shadow of doubt, that the experiment worked and they didn’t lose money AND credibility within the higher net worth Caribbean diaspora?

    This is lame and uncouth advertising. Looks cheap and solidifies the “cruise shipper” non-spender demographic even further.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    The world of travel has changed over the years. You have people who are interested in different things and will travel for specifics needs with expectations. Not everyone is here to visit for sun sand and sea. Do some more research on the travel market and note that there are a number of young individuals who are able to afford visiting Cayman and more than likely heard it from friends/family or social media. Either way word of mouth marketing is still strong. So tel the world to visit Mei Mei and we will welcome everyone to our shores

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  10. Anonymous says:

    OMG Like Totally rad!!

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Unless they can star in a reality show like FBoy Island.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Great. Let’s spend our tourism budget on the “Look at Me! Look at Me!” generation that would only come here if it’s free. This is just another reason why social media is a scourge.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    can we petition the silent governor??? or maybe the uk directly???

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    • Big Bobo In West Bay says:

      1:13, Lot of good that will do. You think the Governor or London is going to get involved on how we spent our tourism promotion dollars? Can you imagine the Caymanian political uproar if they did that?

      Get real. We are basically masters in our own house. We need to pull up our big boy political pants.

      By the way, perhaps you don’t know that Sir Alden and his cronies effectively diluted nearly all the power of the Governor’s office when they were in power.

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      • Anonymous says:

        How so?

        The powers of the Governor are established and protected by our constitution… To say that they’ve ‘effectively diluted’ it is a massive overstatement.

        If anything, this absolves the people responsible of any accountability.

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        • Big Bobo In West Bay says:

          12:17, No it is not an overstatement. Today the Governor only has power in four areas:

          1- foreign policy

          2-defense

          3-internal security

          4-the police

          That is it. We are not living in 1970 anymore in terms of the Governors power. The Governor is now basically a figurehead. Regrettably, she cannot get legally involved in how our tourism people spend their allocated funds.

          Caymanians on this site need to stop asking the Governor to do things that she cannot possibly do legally. Of course, there is always the option of direct rule if matters become very bad, but suspect that is highly unlikely in today’s Cayman Islands.

      • Anonymous says:

        Big Bobo, agree. Not only the new Constitution but also created the single member constituencies. We are governed by the people we choose, but in some cases chosen for us by a handful of people in small constituency.

  14. Anonymous says:

    CIG must really want Cayman to be Jamaica in every sense of the word.

    Plot. Lost.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Rosa Harris can’t be fired for some reason that eludes all of us. Wonder what it is. How many hundreds of millions has she wasted of ours over the years?

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  16. Anonymous says:

    This is a very common method of marketing and advertising nowadays and in plenty of cases is highly effective.

    Get over it. This is not news.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Please provide evidence that this total waste of money – sorry ‘marketing’ of an expensive jurisdiction like Cayman has any efficacy whatsoever……. crickets

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      • Anonymous says:

        Influencers told them it works.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Please provide evidence that this marketing is a ‘total waste of money’…… crickets

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        • Sarasota Steve says:

          10:40, Simple. Spend sometime in the Seven Mile Beach Corridor and one will find very few 30 and under tourists also known as GEN Z.

          They cannot afford our crazy high prices.

          You need to get out more.

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        • Anonymous says:

          In the same category as the charter flights to Barbados! Wasting our money category. We really need to start taking it back from his bloated salary. They are too silly to realise how disgraceful this is. Who is going to show up in Cayman because this Mei Mei says to. The Minister and his handlers need their brain examined.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    over to you auditor general…
    any comment mrs governor??

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Generation brain damaged. Give them a shovel or a mop if they can’t do anything else. Enabling them to a parasitic lifestyle is disgusting.

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    • Big Bobo In West Bay says:

      10:36, Can’t blame them if they can get an all expense paid vacation from the CIG. Bet your generation would have taken the same offer if it was given to you.

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      • Anonymous says:

        My generation bakes bread, fixes roads, builds homes, restores electricity and water after disasters, teaches children, delivers mail, grows wheat and vegetables, working 12 hrs shifts in hospital to save people, drives long hours to transports goods, materials etc.

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        • Anonymous says:

          2:50, So you are saying that your generation would not have taken an all expenses paid trip to Southern Florida if it was offered to you and your friends?

          If you would say no to such an offer I would say your generation was not too bright.

        • Anonymous says:

          I was a seafarers for 22 years traveling all over. Europe, far East, North & South America etc. I always gathered leaflets /small books etc.promoting Cayman Islands and left them in Airports and Hotels lobbys .

  19. Anonymous says:

    A freeloading ‘influencer’ on our island – an ideal occasion to protest the waste of our money with a large unofficial public ‘beach in’ and camping occasion on the beach directly in front of the Black Urchin at the time this bunch of clowns is there. Perhaps that would be a Tik Tok Instagram occasion that the idiots at the DoT would understand – if not it still could be a lot of fun – maybe some of that free food and champagne as well!

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  20. Anonymous says:

    How much more mismanagement will the Cayman Islands have to endure at the hand of Rosa and Kenny?

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    • Anonymous says:

      At least 10 months until the next election – hopefully no more

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      • Anonymous says:

        You seen the size of his majority? No doubt he will get reelected, and you know he has no political loyalties – his support for any party will be predicated on a ministerial seat so….

  21. Anonymous says:

    someone correct me if I’m wrong but Jamaica competes for the same tourist as us, from what i can find our advertising budget is more than 5x yet I’ve seen more Jamaica commercials on TV, than Cayman and they get more tourists than us, make it make sense.

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    • Anonymous says:

      For some unknown reason the word ‘kickbacks’ springs to mind

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    • Anonymous says:

      We have to pay a premium for the bad idea machine that is Rosa Harris and Moses Kirkconnell, now puppet Kenny Bryan. A quarter of all GDP derived from tourism is spent on misprommotion via DoT, loser attraction subsidies, and MP family junkets. Oh look, it’s time to rebuild the airport again…

      26
    • Anonymous says:

      Jamaica is cheaper. Jamaica has AI properties. Jamaica has more day activities ( tours) & land more nightlife( clubs, live music).

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  22. Anonymous says:

    A million here, a million there, millions everywhere!

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  23. Anonymous says:

    A Value for Money audit is definitely required for this outrage – Auditor General what do you and your staff think?

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  24. Anonymous says:

    Why is everyone complaining – Kenny gets invited for the free food and drinks – well its our money but for him it is free

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  25. Anonymous says:

    Who are the personnel in the DOT who do the research? Come on, this is a waste of marketing funds. A business I am involved in has up until now being paying a Stewardess on American Airlines for promotion. No real change so finito!

    42
  26. Anonymous says:

    A few strippers would have been a lot cheaper, and probably have the same amount of influence.

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  27. Frustrated Caymanian says:

    Watch this backfire horribly on Social Media….

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  28. Anonymous says:

    FFS!!!

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  29. Anonymous says:

    No nightclubs, no casinos, no striup clubs, no legal drugs, no raves, no nude beaches, no 24/7 shopping, restaurants and bars. Seems to me we targetted the wrong demographic. These people do not want to snooze in a hammock on the beach and listen to the waves lapping, they want a lap dance!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Women still get shooed out of the bank or gov’t offices if their shoulders are showing, or wearing shorts. Don’t worry, it’s only 110’F outside.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Unless they can star in a reality show like FBoy Island.

  30. Anonymous says:

    I travel to GC 2x a year and have done so every year ( minus when the island was shut down due to COVID). I talk up Cayman to everyone I meet. I love the island and the people. Mei Mei will get a free trip, a couple fake videos, but never return. She is out to get free items whether a free mascara, massage or a hotel stay. Cayman needs to realize who to really appreciate. The repeat guests who truly love and respect the beauty of the island.

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    • Dela Marte says:

      Thank you.
      An ancestral Caymanian.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The whole point is that her media has the attention of a demographic that the DoT wants to reach. It’s not about her.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Its the old farts that are outraged by this. Keep up or get left behind. If the demographics of her followers are true, its a small price to pay imo.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Only young twerps with social media muddled minds think this is a good idea. Read a book for a change.

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      • Anonymous says:

        It actually doesn’t.

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      • Anonymous says:

        yes but the majority of her viewers are either not old enough to travel here, cant afford to, or are simply just that, tiktok viewers.
        All for advertising cayman but they need to find better demographics for that to work, other wise its just free stuff for a video or two lol

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  31. Anonymous says:

    I am so sick of these “influencers” and their mostly sophomoric opinions on everything. Nobody older than 30 takes them seriously. What are we doing catering to these people?

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  32. Elvis says:

    What a mess

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    • Anonymous says:

      We are providing luxury accommodations at Black Urchin in Bodden Town for the group, which allows us to highlight the accommodations offerings off Seven Mile Beach,” the DoT said. “The Cayman Islands is known as the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean, and we are showcasing our culinary bona fides via an authentic dining experience with a Caymanian chef and a mixology class highlighting our local rum. We will round out their on-island experience with a boat trip to Stingray City, highlighting one of our most popular attractions.”

      How does the DOT choose who grifts off this??

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      • Al Catraz says:

        Now THAT is a good question.

        The money doesn’t evaporate. It goes somewhere hand-picked by the DoT. I don’t think these folks are going to be getting jerk chicken from the grill in Red Bay.

        15
      • Anonymous says:

        Not sure that it is DoT that chooses but whatever – for some random reason the following word keeps coming into my head Kickbacks…..Kickbacks…..Kickbacks…..

      • Anonymous says:

        If Mei Mei does return to the island or her friends ( or her 30 year old influencing crowd), do you think they will be staying at the Black Urchin on their return?

        10
  33. Anonymous says:

    What are the guaranteed returns? Blatant waste of Public funds should be criminal!

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    • Anonymous says:

      CNS should do a weekly or monthly summary of how many millions were spent on things like this rubbish and consultants! Likely be astonishing!

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  34. Anonymous says:

    Hope she has a great time!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Mucho dosh is relying on it.

      No way it’s going to happen.

      Social media is parasitic, at best. Opportunistic by and large.

      One misconstrued comment and it will all blow to smithereens.

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  35. Anonymous says:

    CNS, in the last paragraph, you mean DoT right?

    CNS: Yes. Thanks for flagging it.

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  36. Anonymous says:

    Priorities completely messed up.

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  37. Miami Dave says:

    What the Department of Tourism has not learned yet is that GEN Z, Mei Mei’s social media market,does not come to the Cayman Islands because the costs here are far too high for that age group here.

    Of course, if you can get an all expenses paid trip from America for all your friends then go for it and have fun at CIG’s expense.

    There are cheaper places to go in the Caribbean where GEN Z can get far more bang for their buck.

    The marketing people who made this decision in CIG should all be fired for their stupidity. Obviously they have never taken any Caribbean tourism marketing courses.

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    • Anonymous says:

      There are plenty of young people who can afford to come to the Cayman Islands. Before they have children may even be the best time to travel here, as costs go up considerably when you’re looking at doing this with a family of four. They also aren’t necessarily coming here for 7-14 days, which is when expenses can absolutely go through the roof.

      Flights from most cities in the US (our largest source market) are under US$500 per person and decent rates are available for a lot of accommodations, especially May through November if you’re booking last minute (as low as US$200/night including taxes and fees). A young couple or 2-4 friends who are a few years out of out university with well paying jobs can easily afford 3-4 nights sharing one hotel room or a one bedroom condo. If they’re staying on SMB they don’t need to rent a car and airport taxis are actually pretty affordable. If they aren’t staying on SMB the amount they save on accommodation easily pays for a rental car and gas.

      I know this is anecdotal, but I have a one bedroom condo on SMB that I rent short term. I get a lot of young couples and groups of 3-4 young women from all over the US who come for short stays. I give them recommendations for affordables dining within walking distance and the best happy hours. The airport taxi is only US$30 with tip so a rental car is an unnecessary expense for the vacation they want to have. They generally bring in duty free liquor and buy groceries for most of their meals, spending most of their time on the beach and maybe heading to Stingray City with a local tour operator. They eat out at a restaurant at least once a day but are not buying Rolexes or diamond jewelry. Per person, the trip probably ends up costing less than US$2,000. That’s a lot of money, but it’s not unattainable for a many young Americans. Who love to travel and want to go to as many different places as they can.

      While DOT has a massive budget and sometimes I wonder if the money spent definitely generates a net return to government coffers in particular (this is something I don’t think we can ever definitively prove), they really do seem to put in the work to research and understand the market and spend the money where it’s expected to have the biggest impact. Young people are absolutely influenced by what they see on social media, especially Instagram and TikTok. And plenty of them will have money to check out Grand Cayman if they learn about it and see cool, unique things. And our gorgeous beaches, of course.

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      • Johnny Canuck says:

        5:14, As someone who has run for 10 years a couple of AirBnb’s here I can assure you that very few people under the age of 30 come here unless they have parents, aunts or uncles who own places here. There are so many other places that are cheaper to go to dive, play golf or go for a day out on a boat than here.

        The under 30 tourist crowd that visit here generally already have personal contacts here before arriving. Who can blame them. They can get far more bang for their buck in Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Cuba, St. Lucia, etc. We are simply TOO EXPENSIVE for young people.

        We should be focusing on the high end professional and people 50 and over who have extensive disposable income in America, Canada and the UK. Furthermore, as my 22 year old son tells me, Grand Cayman is a very boring, boring place for nightlife and when one does go out it is expensive as hell.

        Included with these facts are that taxi’s are incredibly expensive and unreliable, plus car rental costs are exceptionally high compared to other Caribbean locales.

        I can assure you that DOT has not done their research on the tourism market here and are clueless about their marketing strategy in U.S. and Canada here. The idea to have Mei Mei and her friends visit here on the CIG tab is beyond ridiculous.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Short sighted IMO.
          Loads of wealthy 30ish and then the older crowd wants to remain young and hip and follow as well.

          20
          • Anonymous says:

            Right – Oh look another cow just jumped over the moon –

            Please point to ANY evidence that this total waste of money will see a payback of even 1% of what is being wasted?

            12
        • Anonymous says:

          What will be more ridiculous is listening to the Minister and Rosa trying to explain why it is the best thing since an ice cream cone! Blah blah blah.

      • Anonymous says:

        Not sure where your people are flying in from, but airfare has not been below $600. in my area for quite sometime and as much as $1200. & I look to get a good deal.
        Cayman is an expensive destination!

        11
        • Anonymous says:

          Same for UK. Can be in Barbados in 9 hours for a third of the cost of an economy ticket to GCM. No brainer.

    • Anonymous says:

      I work with a whole bunch of GenZ’s and the big hot spots for them are Nashville, Ft. Lauderdale the Carolinas and Mexico. The Caribbean is too expensive for them.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Cayman is too expensive for them, that’s why Jamaica is full of ya Mon druggie spring breakers..

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  38. Anonymous says:

    You can’t be serious?

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  39. Anonymous says:

    Ugh!

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