|Cayman Net News, Grand Cayman, Cayman
IslandsMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
April 28, 2009 - The Cayman Islands is among five Caribbean nations experiencing double-digit tourism declines according to a new study released by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO). The Barbados-based organisation is encouraging all tourism officials to "adapt" and make the necessary changes to better promote the region in the wake of the global economic slowdown.
Tourism rates are cited as the worst since those which followed the terrorism attacks in the US on 11 September 2001, says CTO Acting Director of Research Winfield Griffith.
"The point at which it will hit bottom is not clear," said Mr Griffith during a press interview.
According to CTO statistics, Anguilla is noted for being most impacted with a decline of 18.8 percent. Antigua fell by 14.3 percent, St Lucia by 13.7 percent and Montserrat by 11.6 percent. The Cayman Islands was ranked fifth among those experiencing declines, with a drop of 11.3 percent.
Mr Griffith attributes part of the decline to airlines eliminating flights into the region.
Twelve nations participated in the study, and all indicated declines with the exception of Cuba, Jamaica and Cancun.
The CTO indicated that the reporting period varied with each nation, but data was generated by comparing tourism rates in early 2009 with the same time period in 2008.
The study also reflected significant drops in terms of cruise ship passengers: Jamaica (down 28.7 percent), Puerto Rico (down 25.8 percent) and Cayman Islands (down 19.6 percent).
In responding to the declines, former CTO Chairman Harold Lovell urged Caribbean tourism leaders to adapt to economic changes with a new sense of vision and regional cooperation.
"We will be able to meet these times with resilience as we continue to engage in meaningful dialogue and chart a common vision of growth and above all, a willingness to adapt and change to meet these new challenges... ," said Mr Lovell in a news interview.
Mr Lovell, who currently serves as the Minister of Finance for Barbados, said partnerships among the public and private sector will prove critical to increasing both the region's visibility, but also its viability. He is encouraging greater regional cooperation in terms of developing strategies for growth.
"As a region we should continue to seek answers as to how we can add value to our products and attractions," reported Mr Lovell. "We must continue to exploit new markets and find new ways to distinguish and enhance our brand as we meet the challenges of the future."
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