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The Government has abandoned the cruise sector

Government 15 May, 2024 Follow News

The Government has abandoned the cruise sector

Video Statement Link: https://youtu.be/tAJdqBUOw3I?si=_4fN4aCKwPVsytxZ

Despite the Government’s positive talk about tourist arrivals, the fact is we haven’t even recovered to 2019 numbers. Meanwhile, our competitors have recovered and are surpassing us - attracting thousands of tourists away from Cayman. This loss means missed opportunities and millions of dollars in tourism spending that could have supported Caymanian families and small businesses.

The slow recovery in stay-over tourism mirrors the Government’s catastrophic failure in the cruise sector.

The Government has abandoned the cruise sector and the Caymanians who work there. Their inaction is a failure and a dire situation that demands immediate attention and action.

Last year, cruise visitor numbers in Cayman were the lowest since 2002 — lower than after the financial crash and lower than in 2004, when Hurricane Ivan decimated our cruise business.

The Government’s most recent data show that cruise visitor numbers slumped even further in the first three months of this year and were 14% lower than the same period last year.

This is taking place against a backdrop of solid performance by our competitors.

 Across the Caribbean, cruise numbers have set a new record for the region.

But the ships carrying those record numbers of visitors are passing Cayman by.

Amazingly the recent Government press release on Tourism was utterly silent about the slump that beset the cruise sector. Pretending that it is not happening.

The PACT/UPM Government just does not know what it wants to do about the cruise sector. Cruise numbers continue to dwindle in that vacuum, and Caymanian businesses and livelihoods are threatened. No wonder Caymanians in Tourism feel worse off under this Government.

The Government has adopted an ‘abandon ships’ strategy, doing nothing for cruise tourism while the cruise companies decide the future of Cayman’s cruise business by increasingly removing us from their itineraries.

Cayman’s elected Government should set the pace, not passively watch while the market and the ships leave us behind.

For three years, the Progressives Opposition has argued that Cayman’s tourism sector needs a rethink. The Government and industry must come together to plan for the future of cruise tourism.

If the cruise sector is going to be reshaped with fewer passenger numbers, then the Government needs to manage the transition, helping businesses and workers adjust, not just abandoning the sector to the whims of the market. 

The urgency of this work is such that it cannot wait another year for a new government after the election. It needs action now. The Progressives are willing to use the experience and the networks we built up through eight years in Government to help this Government find a better path for tourism. 

I hope the Government will put selfish electoral interests aside and work with us. Cayman deserves better, and we all need to come together to find the best strategy for the future of our tourism industry.


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