He continued, “Together, the Ministry and Department of Tourism actively advanced efforts to educate and train persons within our community to be confident Caymankind ambassadors throughout 2015. Whether it was through the PRIDE programme, Hospitality School, developing a tourism-infused curriculum in primary schools, or granting of scholarships, we know that it is the Caymanian people who make our destination so special and create those lasting memories for our valued visitors.”
In addition to training and education programmes aimed at boosting human capital within the tourism industry, the long-awaited start of the expansion project at Owen Roberts International Airport (ORIA) began in March 2015.
The project—being implemented in a four tiered phase approach—is expected to take three years to complete and will significantly increase the capacity of ORIA. The first area of construction is the departure terminal.
“The improvements at the airport, along with other infrastructure projects currently in progress, will make our tourism marketplace even more appealing for our visitors as product enhancements, including numerous hotel developments, continue to come on line,” said Chief Officer for the Ministry of Tourism Stran Bodden.
“Ensuring that the Cayman Islands are able to provide the highest quality in both service and product will continue to be a top priority for all of us in tourism,” Mr Bodden said.
Also ongoing is the development of a national public transport strategy as tourism continues to grow. The Public Transportation Board is working to improve bus routes to address congestion issues on the road and furthermore to feed the demand for drivers at the airport thus ensuring visitors reach their destination quickly and without delay.
“The economic impact of the plan has seen further employment and entrepreneurship in the form of tour operators and taxi drivers, stimulating increased opportunity for Caymanians working in the tourism sector,” the DoT press release said.
Several hotel developments continued to progress throughout the year while new projects were announced, all of which will provide growth opportunities for the tourism industry and country in the short-, medium, and long-term.
Renovations began in fall 2015 for the Sister Islands property, Brac Reef Resort. The newly designed property will celebrate its official relaunch on 15 January under its new name Cayman Brac Beach Resort.
The Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa continued its scheduled construction throughout the year, remaining on track to meet its anticipated completion date for fall 2016. The resort will increase room stock in Grand Cayman by 266, along with an additional 62 residential suites.
Health City continued to progress its plans for an onsite hotel that will further enhance destination healthcare in the Cayman Islands.
Plans continue to progress for the five-star Dart hotel along the Seven Mile Beach corridor.
Luxury boutique L’Soleil d’Or, Cayman Brac, continued to welcome guests while moving forward with expansion of the site to include a gym, beach side spa and cabana, and more.
Announcement of a new 200-room luxury resort, St. James Point, to be built in Bodden Town, will further increase accommodations offerings for the destination and open up new tourist districts.
The sale of Treasure Island Resort and plans to develop the property into a Margaritaville brand resort were announced.
“The continued interest by developers to invest in the Cayman Islands is a good indication that we are a country destined to grow. Our successful partnerships with the private sector, along with the ongoing strategic marketing efforts of the department, will help us to move along the steady path for increased visitation in the years to come. This is an exciting time for the Cayman Islands,” said Rosa Harris, Director of the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism.