By Staff Writer
The Cayman Islands will underscore its place as a major influencer in Caribbean tourism when it hosts top-level business meetings of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) from September 12th to 15th.
Hon. Minister for Tourism Kenneth Bryan who will host the sessions, sees it as an opportunity for Cayman to highlight its resources and capabilities to be an integral part of the region’s post-Covid tourism recovery.
The 2022 CTO Business Meetings will be held here in-person for the time since the start of the pandemic, with the CTO Board of Directors and Council of Ministers conferences, and the Election of the Chairman of the Council of Ministers.
New strategies will be formulated for recapturing tourism business across the Caribbean with a strong emphasis on cooperation.
Appearing on the Caymanian Times show, Cayman Conversations, Mr. Bryan told host Ralph Lewis that he has already started exploring possibilities and opportunities that could benefit Cayman and the wider region.
He has been putting forward his concepts which have already been met with interest from some of his regional colleagues and top decision-makers in the industry.
Mr. Bryan recently met with the Jamaican Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett, to explore different strategies for tapping into the individual areas of strength in tourism of the CTO member countries as the region seeks to recapture its share in the economically vital global tourism market.
“There’s a lot of investigation that still has to be done because it’s a very multi-faceted theory that will take a lot of ministers and governments to agree. You have no border control matters, visa, travel concerns in respect to whether you have airlines to fly to different routes, whether it’s beneficial for one country compared to the other some countries are doing well in tourism,” he outlined.
“It is almost getting a whole region to agree on a much a lot of different issues together. So, this is just about the discussion of ‘could this work?’ Could everybody benefit from it? So, nothing concrete yet other than dialogue and understanding of what can be helpful for the region.”
One of the challenges CTO members have been grappling with is airlift, especially for inter-island travel and tourism.
Looking at the business opportunities possible, Mr. Bryan observed that Cayman is in a much better position than many of the other countries to devise a strategy to tap into that.
He explained that it forms part of a wider multi-destination concept currently being looked at and there could be role and business opportunities for Cayman Airways.
“This is where potential opportunities may come up for Cayman Airways,” he told Ralph Lewis hist of Cayman Conversation.
Pointing out that comparatively Cayman is in a better position than other countries in subsidising its own national airline, Mr Bryan said if a business model could be devised where Cayman Airways could tap into the regional market, which would be financially beneficial to the company.
“We have four 737s and they need to be in the air in order to get the best value. We don’t make any money from them while they’re on the ground. We’re losing money actually. They need to be in the air more often. So, it’s our job to find routes that can make a profit. The government subsidises Cayman Airways, but you want it to make its own money.”
The issue of airlift will be a key agenda item at the CTO meetings.
In a press statement, the regional tourism organisation noted that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) will host a Caribbean Aviation Day on 14 September bringing together the top management of the airline and tourism industry in the region, as well as government ministers, aeronautical authorities, the diplomatic corps, media, among others.
The CTO said the objective is to “discuss the challenges and opportunities of this sector and the recovery of the region, as well as the roadmap to enhance benefits of aviation in the Caribbean.”
Another issue that Mr Bryan is putting on the agenda for the CTO is developing a new concept for regional tourism marketing and international representation.
According to Cayman’s tourism minister, with individual countries and the wider region working to rebuild their tourism sectors following the slowdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s also an opportune time to review how the region markets itself as a preferred destination.
“We all just recently came out of Covid-19, and we are trying to revive our tourism product, but nobody is fully back to 100 per cent,” he noted.
One of the concerns Mr Bryan is how resources are deployed to best benefit the CTO and its member countries. He proposes a rethink to reduce unnecessary overlap mentioning instances where the CTO and member countries have offices in the same cities or countries and where more focus could be placed on targeting specific destinations rather than the CTO and individual member states targeting the same markets.
“We’ll have to have a lot of restructuring. We have to think outside the box,” he stated emphasising value for money.
“What’s the point of paying into an organisation to have an office where you have an office?” he questioned. “Maybe we should not have them advertising in places we already advertising. Let’s get them into different places like Australia and tap into that market,” he suggested also mentioning the South American and Asian markets.
The CTO meetings in Cayman will be attended by the Ministers of the organisaton’s member countries, Directors of Tourism, senior executives, international aviation experts, media, and regional students who participate in the Caribbean Youth Congress.