take serious stock of its tourism product to remain competitive among other sun
destinations, both in the Caribbean, and beyond. As up-and-coming destinations
angle for a piece of the tourism pie, and consumers demand more from their
precious few weeks of vacation time, the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism
has turned up the volume on promotions and increased the level of support provided
to enhance aspects of product development, to keep visitors coming back for
Even before the tourism industry felt the
repercussions of 2009’s economic downturn, the Cayman Islands recognised the
need to grow its tourism offerings to not only maintain arrivals, but to
cultivate new business. From adding events to consistently inventing targeted
promotions and partnerships, the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism has
challenged itself to augment the destinations offerings in order to compete in the
ever changing tourism landscape.
Keeping the product top of mind with today’s
savvy traveller requires a constant temperature test and an unbiased review of
the ‘inventory’. As a result, the Cayman Islands tourism industry has undergone
a significant transformation in recent years, offering consumers new and
improved attractions, quality events and festivals, as well as more choice when
it comes to accommodations, restaurants and value for money.
area which the Department of Tourism is most able to affect within its mandate
is promotional activity and targeted efforts have become an essential tourism
tactic. Outside of the overall brand building efforts keeping the Cayman
Islands as a top-of-mind leisure destination of choice for potential target market
travellers, specific destination promotions were designed as a way to keep
Cayman on the vacation radar in shoulder seasons.
Consumers have come to
anticipate these promotional periods, which in turn has helped hand in hand
with private sector efforts to boost our tourism arrivals. In recent months,
tourism is back on the upswing one part in parcel to the hard work that is
being done to stimulate the sector, as well as to additional airlift that has
become available to the destination. Promotions like Summer Splash and Get Warm
have been successful in keeping Cayman visible and providing the kind of
value-added offers that can often be the deciding factor for travellers
considering more than one destination at time of booking.
Because the Cayman
Islands have a higher price point than some destinations, it’s vital we keep
highlighting value and as an industry delivering a quality vacation experience
every single time a visitor steps on our shores.
Promotions also play a part in keeping the
destination fresh and exciting. For example, a brand new dive promotion has
been added to the promotional calendar and will get underway in the fall. Timed
to the months of September and October, Dive Madness is the brainchild of the
Cayman dive industry and will provide a smorgasbord of offers for both avid
divers and novices wanting to get their feet wet for the first time. Partnering
with Cayman Airways, the Dive Madness promotion provides a unifying offer of
return airfare, five 2-tank dive trips, access to a ‘Treasure Hunt’ event and
more. The sinking of the U.S.S. Kittiwake at the beginning of the year
revitalised our dive industry and put us in the limelight once again as one of
the world’s top dive destinations. We anticipate Dive Madness to be a real draw
for curious divers wanting to experience the new site and re-acquaint
themselves with the Cayman Islands.
Get Warm is another example of a promotion
that was launched last year and which falls right in the middle of the winter
season. Targeted to the cold weather US states and Canada, the promotion used
an interactive social media contest to motivate consumers. While winter is
typically a strong season for the Cayman Islands there are slow periods within
that need help, and we know that travel agencies receive more than double the
amount of calls from winter-weary consumers following a big snowfall! The
promotion was a way to drive more bookings from consumers who had simply had
enough of ‘Old Man Winter’ and were ready to push the escape button and
therefore increase the incremental visitors to our islands.
The promotion asked
consumers to submit photos and stories about how cold it was in their hometown
and drew them to a website that offered incentives for visiting the Cayman
Islands, as well as compelling photos and video illustrating the warmth of the
destination. A new advertising campaign, Cayman Kind, will also create
promotional opportunities to further boost visitor arrivals and brand
In addition to targeted promotions, the
Cayman Islands Department of Tourism is also actively involved in sponsoring a
wide variety of events and festivals held throughout the destination which
serve to increase visitation. Sponsorships include the Pirates Week festival,
the Flowers Sea Swim, the Friends Invitational Golf Tournament and more. Where
beneficial, we’ve also become involved in opportunities like hosting the
successful CARIFTA Games held in Grand Cayman in 2010 and the Cayman Islands
Squash Open, both of which presented the destination with numerous press opportunities.
In 2011, we will again have a wide variety of offerings, including a Divemaster
Competition, Gimistory, Batabano, Cayfest, Million Dollar Run, the Cayman
Islands Marathon – and many others which appear annually on the Cayman
Some other ways in which we’ve worked to
consistently reinvent the product include extending the widely successful
Cayman Cookout into a full month of culinary events, now aptly dubbed ‘Cayman
Culinary Month’. Our industry partners have been central to making this happen.
Marketing Cayman Cookout and Taste of Cayman in the same month made perfect
sense and evolved quite organically.
Considering the amazing culinary
experiences Grand Cayman has to offer the visitor, this was an intelligent use
of our resources as a destination, particularly with the increased interest in
culinary tourism among consumers. In just three short years, the Cayman Cookout
event, coupled with other events, and our considerable restaurant choices, has
put Cayman on the map as a leading culinary destination in the Caribbean. As
other destinations work to establish this lucrative culinary market, Cayman is
already ahead of the pack and enjoying the benefits of forward thinking.
Refreshing the attractions inventory has
also been key to Cayman’s tourism success. The industry has provided the Cayman
Motor Museum, the redesigned Turtle Farm, Black Pearl Skate & Surf Park,
Cayman Karting and more, have all served to keep the product from feeling
stale, when it would have been easy for the destination to rely solely on its
‘tried and true’ attractions like Stingray City.
Camana Bay’s Town Centre is also a huge
draw for visitors and Caymanians alike. With its interactive fountains,
Observation Tower, events, state-of-the-art theatre, restaurants and more,
Camana Bay has weaved itself into the very fabric of our tourism product. The
design aesthetic and infrastructure at Camana Bay also aligns well with our
brand. Cayman’s positioning as a destination offering quality, memorable
vacations shares a synergy with Camana Bay. It has very quickly become a
popular tourist hub for gathering, dining and shopping.
The Sister Islands have also strived to
reinvent and refresh its tourism product. Following Hurricane Paloma, Cayman
Brac has staged a comeback with new, contemporary accommodations, improved
offerings for visitors and a renewed sense of pride in their tourism product.
An interactive and creative Sister Islands website is helping to drive
visitation and to capture the imagination of visitors who may not have
otherwise journeyed to the destination.
Cayman’s attractions – as well as our points of difference – is a key objective
for the Department of Tourism. Consequently, we continually monitor our tourism
product and its viability in the competitive marketplace and this knowledge
base strengthens our ability to manage the broader image of the destination and
grow visitor arrivals, which ultimately spreads the economic benefit of tourism
to the people of the Cayman Islands.