October 25, 2020

New flights to Calgary, Dallas and Brazil


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Cayman Airways may soon be flying direct to Calgary, Dallas and even Brazil as part of a new drive to boost tourism.

Premier McKeeva Bush made the announcement at Wednesday’s Tourism Awareness Meeting.

Mr Bush said that although the industry was thriving, there was still much work “left to be done”.

He said work has started on setting up new direct flights to west Canada, the US and South America.

Tourism authorities will launch Cayman Airways flights to Calgary, Dallas and Brazil in coming months as part of renewed campaigns to boost visitors, while seeking a 5% increase in European arrivals.

Speaking at a Wednesday gathering at the Cayman Turtle Farm, Premier and Minister of Tourism McKeeva Bush told an audience of at least 100 that while the industry was ”thriving”, much work “is left to be done”.

Reeling off a list of statistics and industry initiatives, Mr Bush said air links were among the most important efforts to boost visitor numbers.

“We are looking at the next, best generation of airlift”, he said,  “We are looking at Dallas as a gateway. We are hoping for service from Calgary in the west. That, in the 1960s, was where our tourism really started, with flights from Vancouver. They stopped in Nevada and then came directly here.

“And we are not missing out on exploration of South America, on travel to and from those strong economies such as Brazil. Work has started on that,” he said.

Cayman Airways (CAL) previusly served Houston, but dropped the route under former CEO Patrick Strasburger, who also cancelled flights to Ft Lauderdale and Boston, replacing the latter with non-stop service, now five times per week, to New York City and once per week to Washington, D.C.

The Calgary suggestion comes after years of discussion about Denver, an effort to tap affluent residents in the North American Midwest.

Mr Bush said Delta Airlines now flies non-stop from New York City while Canada’s discount carrier WestJet, after sparking a 43% surge in local arrivals from Toronto, has scheduled weekly Cayman flights as part of its 71 North American and Caribbean destinations.

While 2010 air arrivals had improved 6% from 2009, reaching almost 289,000, the Department of Tourism (DoT) hoped for 302,000 in 2011, with a 5% improvement in European visitors and a 15% boost in Canadian arrivals, building on this year’s 35.8% improvement.

Sadly, cruise tourism had steadily declined at an annual 10.1% rate.

“This is not surprising,” Mr Bush said. “We have been talking about it for three or four years, and it is understood that if we do not get our act together and welcome larger ships, we will suffer drastically.”

Without naming the China Harbour Engineering Company or the passenger-dock contract due this month — or the affiliated visitor’s pier at the Turtle Farm — he told the group: “With 2012 declines in cruise arrivals projected, we are working hard to secure the best possible deal for the islands.

“There are challenges for sure,” he warned dissenters, “and there are more and more roadblocks in the way that people are putting up.

“We must accommodate larger ships or be left behind in a serious state,” he said, naming the Bahamas, Jamaica, Turks & Caicos and St Martin’s for heavy investments in cruise facilities. “They have all moved ahead and we are falling behind because the projects have been voted down.”

Among the “bold and imaginative initiatives” by the DoT, he said, were wide-ranging sports tourism plans, a hospitality school at the Treasure Island resort in conjunction with UCCI and the new “CaymanKind” advertising campaign, described as at length by Acting  Director of Tourism Shomari Scott.

Quoting the campaign tagline “random acts of kindness”, Mr Scott  said “it describes Cayman as a place of beauty, with feelings of joy, honour and respect.

“After the recession, we wanted to get away from [references to] money. We want to get back to 30 years ago when everyone felt like a family.”

He pointed to the new “www.getwarm.ky” website, a series of promotions and contests, awarding an expenses-paid trip to Cayman, You Tube videos — of Miss Vivene’s East End restaurant, Sunset House and Mission House — and wide network TV coverage of Cayman Culinary Month and the Ritz-Carlton’s “Blue” chef Eric Ripert

Mr Shomari’s presentation culminated with a video of the recording of the “CaymanKind” song, featuring local musicians Notch, Jah Mitch, Jamesette Anglin and KK Alyse, followed by the full promotional TV spot. Everyone,” he said, “has a role to play.”

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