The news that U.S. arrivals in the Cayman Islands were up 13.44 percent in 2017—definitely a stand-out in the Caribbean region—made this reporter eager for more details. The result: this conversation with Rosa Harris, director of tourism at the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism.
Recommend: U.S. arrivals are soaring, but what about the Canadian market?
Rosa Harris (RH): That’s also a success story. Two years ago, Canada had me worried. The downturn had a lot to do with the Canadian currency and consumer confidence. But now, the Canadians are back. It also helps that Air Canada now flies here nonstop six times weekly.
Recommend: What about flights from the U.S.?
RH: The Cayman Islands has increased its flight capacity and expanded nonstop offerings from a variety of major U.S. travel hubs. In addition, Grand Cayman’s Owen Roberts International Airport Expansion project (US $67 million) is slated to be completed by December 2018, and that will double the size of the facility so it can accommodate close to 2.5 million passengers.
Recommend: The Cayman Islands also has sprouted new resorts, such as Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa and Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman, and existing resorts, such as the The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa, have undergone renovations. Is there anything else that contributes to the archipelago’s extraordinary success?
RH: We have explored all possible options to bring business to the Cayman Islands. We’re very focused on who is our customer and on our relationships with the travel trade and travel advisors, so we’ve undertaken some creative marketing initiatives:
- We launched a destination weddings magazine: caymanvows.com/magazine
- We offer a “Worry Free Hurricane Guarantee” campaign that’s not just for a few resorts, but for a broad cross-section of hotels and condos. Reassuring visitors this way is a better thing to do than just shy away from the conversation.
- A promotion with Chef’d offered people on the West Coast, who tend to be less familiar with the islands, five home-delivery meal kits with Caribbean ingredients and recipes by five Cayman Islands star chefs. This was a new way of speaking to audiences and the first-ever destination-inspired meal kits in the United States.
Recommend: Millennials are the Holy Grail of the travel industry now. Aside from the meal kits, how are you talking to them?
RH: Millennials want to meet the people, see the real culture. They want to see themselves doing something and connecting with the destination in a way that’s an extension of their lifestyle, so we’ve embraced digital media with imagery and engagement that tells the story. We have fantastic infrastructure, so you can easily drive around and get reliable WiFi. We also offer a three-island experience to attract millennials.
Recommend: If you meet someone who still needs convincing, what’s your elevator speech to sell the destination?
RH: We in The Cayman Islands make everything easy, and we focus on quality, because we know that our customers are sophisticated. Our people are an asset, a real melting pot of cultures that results in a warm, hospitable atmosphere. That’s Caymankind! We are here to make magic and to create memories.
For more information, visit caymanislands.ky.