Tourism businesses: 'We are casualties, not villains' - Cayman Compass

Tourism business owners are contemplating whether to shut their doors in the face of continued uncertainty over the future of the industry.

“Why should we stay open now? Why should we bother?” Steve Broadbelt, owner of Ocean Frontiers questioned during an emergency meeting of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association Friday morning.

“How long can we suck it up and carry on? Should we just close up until there is a date and a plan?”

CITA leaders spelled out the reality facing the industry, projecting low occupancy through the end of 2022 — even if Cayman opens in January.

Association president Marc Langevin said it would be up to each business to do their projections and see if they could hang on. He said CITA would push for a firm reopening date, so that visitors could book vacations for next year with confidence.

“We know Christmas is gone. Say goodbye to Christmas,” he told a crowd of around 100 business owners at the Marriott, with more watching on Zoom. “But we can rebuild from that if we have a date.”

Langevin emphasised that a firm, non-negotiable reopening date — accompanied by a plan to manage the logistics of COVID outbreaks — was the number one wish for the industry.

Several tourism leaders suggested Cayman now faces a long, slow road to win back the trust of airline partners, booking agents and repeat guests. CITA estimates that it will take at least five years to build back the island’s customer base.

Theresa Leacock-Broderick, immediate past president of the...

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