Following the hurricanes of 2017 that devastated some of Cayman’s neighbours, the region’s leaders in the field of tourism were optimistic about the future, though words of caution were spoken to ensure that the region actually has a tourism product to offer visitors in the years to come.
Reflecting on how certain parts of the Caribbean sprang back to life in 2018, Patricia Affonso-Dass, President, Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association said that the past year reminded everyone of how resilient Caribbean people and the industry as a whole were, as a number of the region's destinations and hotels bounced back from unparalleled destruction in 2017, “rebuilding smarter, better and sometimes bigger,” she confirmed.
“We got a peek into the future as over 5,000 new hotels rooms came online regionally in 2018 with over 25,000 more in the construction and planning stages,” Ms Affonso-Dass stated. “Existing hotels continue to invest in refurbishments and introducing new services and amenities. We witnessed an unprecedented surge in new airlift into the region, presenting more opportunities to entice travelers to our shores. Investor and government confidence in Caribbean tourism's future was further buoyed as hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on upgraded and expanded airport facilities.”
Recently sworn in as the territory’s new governor, Albert Bryan, Jr., Governor of the US Virgin Islands, was also positive and upbeat about the territory’s resurgence in recent months, saying that the years in which he would serve would be used well.
“I am hopeful that as we lead the charge in setting course for a brighter Virgin Islands these next four years, we do so united as one people, one government and one territory,” he confirmed.
Following its own troubles from flooding last year, Trinidad’s recovery was also being positively viewed, with Patrice Roberts, a Trinidad and Tobago soca artist quoted in Loop News as stating:
"Trinidad has so many beautiful things, beaches and even the unity displayed during the flooding last year showed our beauty as a people. We take the negative situations and turn them into positive ones. We are happy people.”
Cayman’s own Health City was the focus of this island’s progress when it came to destination healthcare, when its founder and chairman, Dr Devi Shetty recently spoke about new developments.
"We built Health City with the idea of transforming health care in the Western Hemisphere. The core of our vision is to make high-level health care more accessible and affordable for more people, who may previously have not had this access. The expansion of our Intensive Care Unit at Health City is another step in the ongoing development of our services to benefit the people of the Cayman Islands, the surrounding region, and international patients from further afield,” he said.
But with all the comments on development and progress came an important message from environmentalists.
Karolin Troubetzkoy, Envoy with Caribbean Challenge Initiative (CCI), said that creating a more resilient marine environment was a critical component to reduce the region’s vulnerabilities to climate change.
“These regional challenges are best tackled through inter-stakeholder collaboration. I look forward to building awareness of the CCI, its goals and the opportunities presented by this initiative. Investing my time and efforts in this volunteer leadership role is built on my desire to give back to a region which I have called home for many decades,” she confirmed.