June 13, 2021

Cayman Islands coming up big

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By Brian Major From Travel Pulse

Large catamaran sailing in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands (photo via fallbrook/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Tourism’s sun is shining brightly over the Cayman Islands, where visitor growth reached record levels in 2017. The Caribbean destination recorded 410,984 overnight, land-based visitors in the first 11 months of 2018, an 11.26 percent increase over the same period in 2017.

The increasingly popular hotspot is benefiting from new nonstop flights from JetBlue and other carriers, a resort base that is again expanding after several torpid years, and cuisine- and entertainment-focused events that are attracting an expanding range of travelers.

We spoke recently with Rosa Harris, director of the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism (CIDOT) to uncover the strategies behind the destination’s growing tourism success.

Rosa Harris, Cayman Islands, Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, CIDOT, Grand Cayman.
Rosa Harris, Cayman Islands director of tourism.

TP: When did the new flights from JetBlue launch and is this a seasonal or regular service?

RH: The new flights from JetBlue Airways launched from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to Owen Roberts International Airport on October 25, 2018. The new regular, daily nonstop service [boosts] the convenience of the destination, as it is already directly accessible from a variety of major U.S. travel hubs by way of Cayman Airways, American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue and Southwest Airlines.

TP: What local tourism and hospitality developments do you believe encouraged Jet Blue to expand service?

RH: Grand Cayman’s Owen Roberts International Airport is celebrating the completion of a $67 million expansion project in the first quarter of 2019. [The project] triples the size of the airport facilities, which will now accommodate 2.5 million passengers per year, creating an even smoother travel experience.

Located on the most expansive portion of Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach, The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa recently celebrated the completion of a two-phase, $50 million renovation. Luxury Cayman Villas’ Point of View Villa has been newly renovated to reflect untouched natural beauty.

In early 2018, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group announced it will manage a luxury resort and residencies in the Cayman Islands in 2021. The Mandarin Oriental, Grand Cayman will offer a private luxury retreat [within] the 100-room beachfront resort, with 89 residencies, all overlooking the white-sand beaches of St. James Point.

Hyatt announced a partnership with Pageant Beach Hotel Ltd [that] in early 2018 will launch a 351-room Grand Hyatt Grand Cayman Hotel & Residencies on a 7.1-acre site on Seven Mile Beach.

TP: What challenges will Cayman Islands tourism face in the 2019 season?

Aerial view of Grand Cayman overlooking George Town and Seven Mile Beach to the north.
PHOTO: Aerial view of Grand Cayman overlooking George Town and Seven Mile Beach to the north. (photo courtesy of Don McDougall/Cayman Islands Department of Tourism)

RH: As with our regional neighbors, we continue to pray for a peaceful hurricane season to avoid any disruptions in travel to the Caribbean. For the last two years, the Cayman Islands has seen record-breaking years of growth, a goal that we are diligently working towards maintaining for 2019.

We continue to monitor economic conditions from our major source markets as shifts in their markets could potentially create a negative impact for the destination and for the region in general. We continue to diversify into other emerging markets to create positive growth opportunities year after year.

TP: How is CIDOT positioning the Cayman Islands in the marketplace for 2019?

RH: The Cayman Islands has many exciting developments and initiatives on the horizon which will continue to elevate the destination.

With the introduction of new routes such as Denver, Colorado via our national flag carrier, Cayman Airways, and others via direct routes on major carriers, we continue to be a destination of choice for the discerning traveler.

Established events such as Cayman CookoutCayman Carnival Batabano,Flowers Sea SwimPirates Week and Cayman Islands Intertrust Marathon will once again attract increased visitation. We are excited that the destination will be hosting the very first KAABOO Cayman festival.

We also continue to support trade through the well-established Cayman Islands Specialist Program which provides [travel agents with] excellent incentives such as familiarization opportunities to the destination.

For more on this story go to: https://www.travelpulse.com/news/destinations/cayman-islands-coming-up-big.html

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