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SUSTAINED TOURISM SUCCESS POST-COVID

Local News 10 Apr, 2023 Follow News

SUSTAINED TOURISM SUCCESS POST-COVID

By Staff Writer

Cayman’s tourism industry is enjoying a sustained recovery with projections for the future even more encouraging.

According to Marc Langevin, General Manager of the upscale Ritz Carlton, the success being experienced is leading to a rethink of how peak visitor periods are planned.

Interviewed on the Caymanian Times programme Cayman Conversations with Ralph Lewis, Mr Langevin said demand is impacting how peak periods are scheduled with the local industry now seeing an almost year-round high-demand operation with only a short downtime period.

This he explained is evident from the experience at the Ritz Carlton and other hotels since the post-Covid reopening.

“Our job is obviously trying to maintain the occupancy of our hotel at maximum to maintain sort of 80% margin. You’re averaging over pretty much 10 months through August,” he outlined.

Already, booking interest has been running high, the Ritz Carlton manager disclosed, with a noticeable shift being seen with corporate bookings taking up the traditional ‘low seasons’ after the normal family Christmas, New Year and Springbreak peaks.

Loyalty is also a key factor as Cayman’s tourism industry builds back against the background of the 2019 pre-COVID period, one of the most successful tourism periods in Cayman’s history.

“We had to send a very strong message…a global push from the industry and everybody in the government to go out and send the message. The result is that our Q4(fourth quarter) was a miracle but at the same time it showed the loyalty of our customers,” he enthused.

Mr Langevin also pointed out that another benefit for Cayman results from increased rates set by tourism establishments in other destinations which had re-opened before Cayman. 

“While we were closed, places like Puerto Rico and other destinations were open before us. They took advantage of that time and they had such a demand that they were charging more money. So when we came back we didn’t have to stretch it too but we just applied that rate and the customers came back to us.”

But one factor that remains at the forefront of the Cayman tourism industry has taken on a new dimension and urgency with booking demand so high.

With unemployment currently at record low rates, Mr Langevin said finding people to fill jobs in the sector is even more of a challenge now, resulting in a reliance on overseas workers. He referred to the ongoing construction of new hotels which would create around another 1,000 jobs.

“We are asking for a lot of employees which we have learned over time that we don’t have enough, and with many tourists on the island, we have to import more employees. So there is always a portion of Caymanian employees that are here, but the pool of employees dedicated to the hotel industry is not growing fast enough compared to the hotels that have been developed. So, there is still not, in my view, enough thought about the future.”

Mr Langevin said he wants to see more effort put into hospitality education in order to meet the skills demand across various levels of the industry.

“Right now we are unfortunately counting on the same pool of employees. They keep on shifting and moving around but the other set, they have not grown that much. So we are attracting new employees every year but at the same time, some people are also changing careers, so as we fill up from the top, it goes somewhere else also.”

One of the concerns is the low interest being shown in certain jobs, especially at a time of high employment which is forcing tourism establishments to recruit from abroad.


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