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CITA: Progressive Path needed for Reopening

Front Pages 09 Dec, 2020 Follow News

CITA: Progressive Path needed for Reopening



The new board of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) has announced its main goals for Tourism in 2021.

The organisation has set an ambitious outlook which includes tourism sector recovery targets of a 25% return to stayover visitation by Easter as compared to 2019, 50% by the middle of summer and a 75% return by Thanksgiving.

Outlining its vision for 2021, the CITA Board said it reviewed the best practices from other Caribbean destinations and learned from the well-tested protocols that Cayman could use in safely reopening the borders.

The territory’s tourism industry has suffered a severe setback caused by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which has put a strain on many tourism businesses despite government efforts to provide interim financial support.

“If we want to have a chance at a reasonable level of business by the end of 2021, the vision of a progressive path and hope for the achievement of key milestones of success needs to be created,” said President of the CITA, Marc Langevin.

He added that “With the introduction of the vaccine, combined with additional layered protocols for testing, tracing and monitoring measures, risks can be mitigated for the general public and stay over visitations resume without compromising our enviable quality of life.”

Vice President of the CITA, Dr Michael Tibbetts MD, said that the Board does not want to throw open the doors and let everyone across the border.

“We have a duty to first and foremost protect our community and employees from the spread of COVID-19. However, we know that the virus will not be eradicated from the planet in the foreseeable future, so we need to develop a data-driven approach that balances risk reduction with a logistically feasible strategy that allows visitors to return to Cayman.”

Tourism employees and the related businesses have been the hardest hit over the last nine months since the closure of ports in Cayman.

According to CITA, while some people have not felt the economic strain from the absence of tourism, for others, the effect has been devastating.

It points to the example of Mikol Watler, Facility and Project Manager at Cayman Crystal Caves, as one of many out of work tourism employees struggling to care for his young family.

“Obviously, I’m not making any income and I have a wife and a child that I need to support. I’m going deeper and deeper into a hole and it’s been really hard. I want to know what we can do to reopen tourism,” Mr Watler explained.

The CITA says it is representing not only the affected tourism businesses but is also voicing the concerns of thousands of Caymanians whose livelihoods have been impacted by the closure.

In a press release outlining its vision for 2021, the organisation says, “through open and transparent communication with the community and the Government, it is looking forward to working with officials to collaboratively develop and implement protocols for testing, health monitoring, operating, tracing, isolation and vaccination so the borders can safely reopen in 2021”.

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