The Road Back to 500K air arrivals – plan for revival of tourism
The Cayman Islands tourism industry has faced disruption in various forms throughout its history, from natural disasters, global economic recessions, to global crises; and has proven resiliency which has led recovery and future successes.
Now, with the official launch of the Ministry and Department of Tourism’s comprehensive strategic tourism reinvention plan named The Road Back to 500K (RB5), a blueprint has been laid for the phased return of tourism as the country moves to a new normal in a post-pandemic world of travel.
The Honourable Deputy Premier and Minister for Tourism, Mr. Moses Kirkconnell, launched the RB5, the plan that aims to be a strategic pivot from the main tenets of the National Tourism Plan (NTP) 2019 – 2023. The NTP was adopted in February of this year, just prior to the onset of pandemic response in the Cayman Islands which effectively ceased tourism operations in March. However, both the RB5 and the NTP were designed with the same principal goal: to lead tourism effectively, safely, responsibly, and sustainably, now and into the future.
The RB5, developed through extensive collaboration with private sector stakeholders, government partners and in-depth market research, identifies four priority areas that will guide the tourism sector to its return as a major pillar of the Cayman Islands economy. This tourism recovery strategy addresses methods to stabilise businesses; create new opportunities for displaced tourism employees; and creates a plan for the next two to three years, focusing on four priorities:
Reinvent for Readiness: identify current stakeholder challenges and develop the best methodologies to reactivate the tourism sector in an effective and efficient return to be a top pillar of the economy.
Stimulate the Domestic Economy: identify strategies to positively impact the country through domestic tourism as the Cayman Islands transitions through the phases of the COVID-19 crisis to recovery.
Regain Global Market Confidence and Market Share: extensive global marketing and promotions of the best practices and methodologies put in place to ensure the Cayman Islands tourism products and services are operating with the highest safety and sanitation standards for accommodations, events, dive, tours and attractions, transportation, and culinary experiences.
Bolster Future Tourism Sector Employment: this adaptation strategy will develop new definitions of roles within the industry, including the necessary retraining of tourism professionals to adapt to a new way of operating in the tourism market.
“The business of tourism is an undeniably strong sector, encompassing a plethora of industries that are directly tourism-based as well as those that feed into the industry through a variety of services,” said The Hon. Minister Kirkconnell. “I am confident that the RB5 plan provides the best way forward for a purposefully paced economic recovery that will see the country gradually return to the milestone years of record-breaking stayover and cruise visitation. This will be accomplished in a phased approach that includes creating more opportunities for Caymanians to be part of our tourism industry, embracing the opportunity to rebalance the workforce from majority work permit holders to having more well trained and highly qualified Caymanian faces delivering the Caymankind customer service we are known for as a Caribbean destination. We have seen the hardship caused for the more than 1,500 Caymanians who have dedicated their lives and livelihoods to this industry, many of whom were faced with unbelievable economic hardships once the difficult decision was made to close our borders. It is our responsibility now to drive efforts such as the RB5 and the NTP to deliver the benefits of this exceptionally well managed and sustainable tourism development plan are a pathway for long term success.”
While led by the Ministry and Department of Tourism, all stages in the development of RB5 included consultation and collaboration throughout government and private sector to ensure the plan has the broadest and most comprehensive impact for the people of the Cayman Islands and the tourism community. This included:
- Sector surveys for domestic economy stakeholder feedback
- Meetings with the accommodation, dive, and attractions sectors
- Meetings with the Cayman Islands Tourism Association and Chamber of Commerce
- Collaborations with the Public Transportation Board and Hotel Licensing Board on recommendations to support the tourism industry
- Developing sanitation guidelines for the tourism sector to safely welcome visitors back
Focusing on the way forward to methodically reopen the industry as the borders reopen, RB5 provides a controlled, phased approach, outlining best practices, new protocols and procedures, and critical policy considerations that will guide the Ministry and Department of Tourism, government entities, and all tourism stakeholders to success.
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