Tourism Minister, Hon. Kenneth Bryan is wasting no time becoming acquainted with key tourism stakeholders.
Earlier this week, Minister Bryan hosted an introductory meeting with members of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association’s (CITA) Executive Committee, to address issues affecting Cayman’s tourism industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting also provided a forum for discussing the work that has been undertaken by the CITA membership in preparation for the safe reopening of the Cayman Islands borders.
With Deputy Premier, Hon. Christopher Saunders and Minister for Health and Wellness Hon. Sabrina Turner also in attendance, CITA President Marc Langevin provided a brief outline of the organisation and its membership, which represents various sectors within the tourism industry, including Hotels, Restaurants, Transportation, Watersports, Condominiums and Villas and Land-Based attractions.
Following a presentation defining CITA’s top priorities, which included full support for the Government’s National Vaccination Programme, Mr. Langevin confirmed CITA’s willingness to collaborate with the government regarding the establishment of safe reopening strategy. Discussions consequently focussed on the planning and logistical elements that would be required to support the Islands safe reopening goals.
“Tourism was the first industry to be affected by the pandemic and it will take time and a team effort to bring about its recovery” said Mr. Langevin. “CITA therefore looks forward to working with the Minister for Tourism and the PACT government in addressing the challenges and rebuilding our tourism industry in a strong and sustainable way.”
Minister Bryan welcomed CITA’s support and emphasised that any reopening plan would be contingent on having enough of the population vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. “With only 60% of the population having received their first dose of the vaccine and 52% having completed the two dose course, we are still below the target set by Public Health,” he said.
During discussions regarding the tourism labour force, Deputy Premier Saunders broadly outlined government’s position stating “This administration is keen to foster productive partnerships with tourism stakeholders and we are open to discussing mechanisms that will enable the tourism industry to become a more attractive career option for Caymanians. The ultimate goal is to see a substantially higher percentage of Caymanians included in the tourism workforce, where they are able to derive a far more direct and quantitative improvement to the quality of their lives.
Agreeing with that sentiment, Minister Bryan added “The COVID pandemic has presented us with a timely opportunity to correct the imbalance that has existed for too long within our tourism workforce. Integrating more Caymanians into the vacant roles is a win-win situation that will add more authenticity to our tourism product, while providing Caymanians with the ability to be gainfully employed and able to support themselves and their families.”
With the tourism industry being an important pillar industry and major contributor to the Islands economy, Minister Bryan noted that he greatly values and encourages collaboration with public and private sectors partners, and he looked forward to meeting with other tourism stakeholders in the future.