By Staff Writer
Cayman’s tourism industry maintains an optimistic outlook for the upcoming peak winter tourist season.
In the latest forecast, President of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) Marc Langevin, reports that since the announcement in August that all travel restrictions were lifted, there has been a surge in interest and bookings for Cayman holidays.
“The moment when that was announced was perfect timing because it’s something we haven’t seen in a while. I must tell you that in July and August I was concerned as the pace was not picking up at the level where we want it to be. It was there but he was kind of hesitant. And suddenly, the week following we started to see already back to some positive trend compared year over year to 2019 which was a record year.”
Mr Langevin was speaking with Ralph Lewis host of the Cayman Conversations series of programmes presented by Caymanian Times newspaper.
Remarking on the resurgence in inquiries and bookings for vacations in the Cayman Islands, he said: “Now we can see the impact that the decision that made a huge impact on our ability to book our fourth quarter of 2022 and first quarter of 2023. So excellent news!”
Commenting on what this coud mean especially for the small businesses which provide a range of services to the tourism industry, host Ralph Lewis, raised the issue of SMEs now preparing to capitalise don the opportunities which are once again coming their way.
“So the message I’m taking away is that we have some time now to fine-tune our services and products; get our gear in order; get our taxis tuned-up, and also improve our efficiency and our customer service. I think that we should be motivated enough after coming from a tough time on the lockdown. We should be happy to be getting back to work and to make that extra effort.”
That point was wholeheartedly agreed with by CITA president Langevin.
“It’s the mindshift, you know. We have not experienced a high level of occupancy for the last two years and we’ve become accustomed to 40, 50 and 60 per cent occupancy, and that is one mindset.”
He said that CITA is committed to providing the support to small businesses as they prepare for the expected rise in business.
“We’re gonna have to care for our business partners. What we intend to do all next AGM is to ensure we can see what is happening in the near future so they are ready for it.”
He also said there has to be an accompanying aggressive marketing and communications campaign to promote the destination to booth visitors and prospective businesses.
“We also have to communicate to the rest of the world…It’s not just to send a press release, it takes, a lot of handshakes, face-to-face with travel agents, meeting planners and wholesalers. We need to call, talk, so that everybody knows we are back in the game.”
With the expected recovery of the tourism sector comes job opportunities, a point noted by host of Cayman Conversations Ralph Lewis.
CITA’s Marc Langevin said some workers had obtained jobs in other sectors such as construction and retail and would now be looking at their long-term job security.
He said businesses in the tourism industry, considering the seasonal nature of the sector, should take the risk and embark on wooing back their former employees as the sector returns to full capacity.
“There are going to be some shifts happening in the next three or four months and that’s going to potentially create some issues in other sectors for some people from jobs in construction, retail and other places. That was good for the time being but now they might want them back to their original bases. So that’s what we are hoping for.”
“We’re going to need to re-instil throughout the entire tourism, industry- retail, restaurants and so on, to potentially take a bit of risk and get back to the full staffing. If not, the opposite is going to be a problem which could be a lack of certainty.”
Mr Langevin is concerned that a lack of adequate staffing could have a negative effect on Cayman’s tourism product and he is encouraging more Caymanians to take up roles in the industry.
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