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Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands aim to enhance tourist experience

Aug 19, 2010

Following the news that cruise ship calls to Grand Cayman will be cut by twenty five percent next year the department of tourism has announced plans for an enhanced experience at the port.

The DoT says the plan has been devised based on responses from a survey conducted among visiting passengers earlier this year. The announcement also comes when questions are being asked about the long term partnership with government and Dart to develop cruise birthing facilities. A three month MOU signed between the parties on 15 April has now expired and no further official announcements have been made. The chair of the port authority has said however, the project is still on track and he hopes to be able to reveal details of the plans shortly.

In the meantime, tourism officials are implementing a plan to improve service delivery as well as the port’s physical environment. Jointly, forged by the Department of Tourism, the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands and the Cayman Cruise Industry Partners, the six-month improvement project will be carried out over the rest of this year.

Following the assessment of the experience at the port, by visitors were asked to rate their experiences at certain touch point areas and the focus groups held with cruise partners, the team created an action plan to implement certain physical improvements to the downtown port area and to train cruise operators and employees at the terminals, the DoT explained.

“The recent assessment of visitor experiences at the port has provided us with valuable information that has enabled us to take the right steps to making the Cayman Islands an even more desirable destination for cruise visitors,” said Oneisha Richards, Project Manager and DoT’s Deputy Director, Tourism Product Development

Although the DoT has not revealed the results of the surveys or the focus groups it was clear there were concerns and the department said the plan aims to address both the concerns of local cruise tourism stakeholders and visitors.

With the reduction of calls to Cayman next year by cruise lines there were concerns that problems with visitor experience had been instrumental in the cruise lines’ decision to drop Grand Cayman. CNS has contacted both Royal Caribbean and Carnival to ask them why they are reducing calls to the Cayman Islands and is still awaiting a response.

Most local business owners involved in the cruise tourism industry have expressed concerns about the conditions at the George Town port and the Spotts terminals as well as a number of other issues there concern and have suggested some interim improvements are needed. However, their main concern is the pressing need to begin work on the cruise berthing facilities.

Stefan Baraud, recently told CNS that the talks between government and Dart regarding the cruise berthing project were still on track and although there are now some significant changes to the original model, DECCO (Dart’s construction company) is still very much on board with the project which will be a private finance initiative.

With no news however, on when the project will actually break ground and an ultimate completion date, the DoT is pressing on with programmes for taxi and tour operators and information providers at the port with the hope of improving the visitor experience at the terminals as they are now.
The department said Janet Holness, a member of DoT’s PRIDE team, will be focusing on operations at the terminals and will deliver training to cruise operators working there. Cruise Officer, Melisa Ebanks will also provide operators with the information and skills to encourage visitors to return to the island.

“The Cayman Islands has been known for its warmth and its welcoming hospitality services and the PRIDE programme is aimed at taking this to a higher level by implementing service standards and ensuring everyone knows, shares and show PRIDE to continue our success in the tourism industry,” Richards added.

At the beginning of the new fiscal year, the PRIDE programme focused on assisting operators at the ports to improve their service delivery, officials from DoT said. The first phase of the initiative was to apply the enhancement process to the cruise ports, with the second phase directed at the airports. At the start of this programme, all public transport drivers operating at seaports and airports received customer service training. To date, over 400 drivers have received PRIDE training and additional training is being developed to fully immerse these operators in service enhancement.

Cayman Islands aim to enhance tourist experience
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