Grand Cayman tourism woes?

A recent letter to the Cayman Island News by a concerned local

“Dear Sir,

Constructing a massive, imposing Ritz monstrosity right in the middle of once-tranquil Seven Mile Beach was the straw that broke the back of Cayman’s dwindling visitor market. Not only do all of the decades of loyal visitors loath the imposing structure but more so what it symbolises.

The Ritz denotes the end of an era of innocence, culture and tranquility; the end of the days where no building was higher than a palm tree.

The island that “time forgot” has become the island that reminds us of any other big city with a beach. Miami Beach is no less congested than Seven Mile Beach. The 800+ employees of the Ritz, along with their hundreds of guests, have created a traffic atrocity well beyond the capacity of the small bypass road.

The only traffic decline they have caused is the death of the Links golf course and all their loyal customers. But of course, the Ritz cannot have their precious guests mingling with common locals or other visitors. They need to own the island’s only championship course and keep everyone else away.

Hundreds of cruise ship passengers being bused back and forth in droves exasperate an already loathsome Seven Mile Beach experience. Visitors are not going to pay the highest prices in the Caribbean to experience the same traffic and culture they have to live with every day. They used to be able to at least escape to East End or Rum Point but now the cruise ship passengers are being bused there too.

A visitor paying the highest prices in the Caribbean should not have to play a game of cat and mouse to calculate when and where the most cruise passengers are on any given day and plan their itinerary around them. Cayman now receives up to ten ships a day with a landing rate exceeding the total population of the island. And someone actually thought that would be a good idea?

As demonstrated by declining Cayman air arrival statistics for the past several years since the birth of Ritz, visitors are going elsewhere. Many would have chosen Little Cayman, had Cayman Airways not put Island Air out of business without first considering their ability to absorb their customer load.

As a result, day trips to the sister islands are all but extinct and weekly visitors are asked to endure a full day or overnight layover on both legs, effectively costing them two full days of their vacation. Few visitors will pay exorbitant prices to spend 20-30% of their vacation wasting away in crowded airports.
Grand Cayman’s reefs are dying of suffocation from the excessive anchorage and transport conducted by the hordes of cruise vessels and their tenders. What remains is being destroyed by irresponsible stewardship on the behalf of the large dive and snorkel companies, taking ridiculous numbers of people to a tiny dive site or sandbar.

With so many people to watch, the operators have a full time job just keeping their guests alive; let alone monitoring their behaviour to ensure protection of the undersea environment.

Hasn’t anyone there wondered why so few visitors are coming?

Maybe a visitor’s perspective will help those caught up in the middle to see what is obvious to everyone else.

Potter Family”

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