By Staff Writer
Cayman will continue to play an essential role at the forefront of regional tourism to the mutual benefit of the jurisdiction and the rest of the Caribbean.
That commitment has come from Hon. Minister of Tourism Kenneth Bryan, who is the current chairman of the regional tourism organisation, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO).
It is supported by the Director of Tourism Rosa Harris who presently chairs the board of the CTO and is welcomed by the new Secretary-General and Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of the CTO, Dona Regis-Prosper of St Lucia.
The new CEO/Secretary-General was invited to Cayman to be introduced to the region and the world during a globally live-streamed press conference hosted by Mr Bryan.
In response to a question posed by Caymanian Times publisher Ralph Lewis on how Cayman benefits from and supports the CTO, Cayman’s Tourism Minister and CTO chairman Bryan framed his response this way: “No man is an island and it’s obvious that collectively we learn together from information-sharing and best practices. We don’t compete against each other, we work together and we believe there is enough market share for us not to compete. Because we are the most attractive tourism region globally there’s room for growth, so whenever one member grows all of us grow together,” he affirmed.
Mr Bryan, who has been flying the marketing flag for Cayman and regional tourism since he took over the CTO chairmanship exactly a year ago this week added: “With respect to the Cayman Islands, what benefits do we get? One obviously, is the collective package of marketing that is normal and all the other best practices, even though I think that we’re doing quite well on the top end of being ahead of the game due to the many experiences and talent we have here in the Cayman Islands.”
He also cited the example of looking into electric buses for Cayman by tapping into the experiences of Barbados, another CTO member country.
“For example, recently we were thinking about going into electric buses, and that led to the transportation of tourism, and I went to Barbados to speak with their transport ministry, and we learned a lot about that and now we’re taking some of that information and set up processes under consideration here in the Cayman Islands. It’s just a small example.”
Addressing his dual roles as Cayman’s Tourism Minister and chairing CTO, the region’s umbrella tourism body, Mr Bryan stated that the benefits were mutual.
“In respect to the chairmanship, it gives an opportunity to show the Cayman Islands as a leader within the region as we have always done in respect to other industries like financial services, recovery assistance - during COVID we gave away hundreds of thousands of dollars in vaccines to other Caribbean islands. That leadership is something we’re known for. We embrace it because Cayman is all about ‘Caymankind’ showing that we are ready to be there for our brothers and sisters. And that’s one of the main reasons when asked to take up the chairmanship I was happy to do so even recognising it would take that away from the Cayman focus, but to balance both of the interests of Cayman as well as the region, I knew that it came out as we’ll get the benefit.”
Mr Bryan also spearheaded a new air link between Cayman and Barbados for the national carrier, Cayman Airways as part of several recent route expansions for the airline.
Director of Tourism Risa Harris, who also currently holds a role in the CTO as chair of the Board of Governors, concurs and draws on her own professional experiences of nine years executing Cayman’s tourism strategies.
“When I don’t know where to look for information, I pick up the phone or I send an email to CTO and I ask ‘Is there another country that’s doing this and do they mind sharing information?’ I can’t tell you how many times over the last nine years that I’ve had to do that.”
She said specific instances included collaborating on matters including marketing, legislation, research, insurance, airlift, training, and sharing experiences on issues such as the use of technology in processing immigration (e-immigration).
New CTO Secretary-General and CEO, Dona Regis-Prosper who brings a vast wealth of tourism-related experience to the role underlines the benefits of regional cooperation in tourism.
“We share one Caribbean Sea and because of that factor, there’s so much that unites when you compare it to what divides us. We could achieve so much when we work together and collaborate together.”
Mrs Regis-Prosper, who hails from St. Lucia, has lived and worked in multiple Caribbean destinations. Her previous roles included CEO of Tortola Pier Park in the British Virgin Islands, Director of Business Development for Margaritaville Caribbean Group in Jamaica, Director of Marketing and Product Development of the St. Lucia Air and Seaports Authority, and General Manager of Antigua Cruise Port.