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More of a trickle than a rush

Opinions & Editorial 23 Nov, 2021 Follow News

Cayman welcomes visitors again

While many people were bracing themselves for/looking forward to (depending on perspective) the border opening last Saturday, it is more likely that the numbers of visitors to the Cayman Islands who will now not have to quarantine upon arrival will likely be very low initially. Cayman’s tourism industry – currently on its knees due to the closure of the borders last year – has been desperate to welcome back both long-standing, loyal visitors to the island as well as new tourists. However, it is unlikely visitors will be arriving in the numbers needed to sustain anything like a healthy season this year or early next.

This is because of a combination of issues. The continuing ban on unvaccinated children of vaccinated travelers is slowing bookings. Very little airlift from US carriers and a dearth of hospitality workers on-island or even planning to head to the island anytime soon, is also hampering any real returns the industry might hope to glean from the border opening, at least in the near term.

That said, this very gentle phased approach does mean Cayman has some time to get things absolutely right when it comes to the treatment of visitors to these shores. This is something that no other country in the world has achieved, with damaging and deadly rises in community spread following border opening seen in countries around the region and across the globe.

The Deputy Governor Franz Manderson has led the civil service on a detailed exercise in the management of the broad range of risks involved with the opening as far as they impact government. At the same time, the private sector, led by the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce, has been gearing up for the role it will play in helping to protect visitors and residents from the spread of Covid-19 once we start to welcome visitors back. Public and private sectors have also been working collaboratively to ensure that the opening can be as risk-free as is humanly possible, given the speed of infection of the Delta strain.

However, no matter how many visitors eventually disembark onto the Owen Roberts International airport tarmac over the coming weeks and months, there is no doubt they will be warmly welcomed by Cayman’s tourism industry, grateful for the chance to get back to some kind of normal once again.

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