Minister hints at imminent return of cruise ships
(CNS): Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan said the COVID-19 testing regime presented major barriers to returning visitors, and the “significant policy change” removing the requirement for vaccinated travelers to make Repeated testing will boost ongoing efforts to increase stay tourism.
During Thursday’s COVID press briefing, the minister also hinted at the return of cruise tourism in the near future and urged operators to recall their staff and prepare their businesses. Bryan gave no details but said there would be cruise tourism news next week.
The easing of testing requirements, an increase in the maximum number of people allowed to congregate and the return to regular hours for bars and nightclubs should help tourism businesses hosting overnight guests, especially groups and agreements.
However, the return of all cruise ships was still considered weeks or even months. But Bryan said that, given the number of jobs and businesses dependent on cruise tourism, discussions were underway with cruise lines.
following the recent visit by members of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, local health officials here had followed up this week with Zoom meetings to discuss safety protocols the government wants to put in place before ships can return to Grand Cayman and passengers disembark.
“We have acquired a lot of knowledge and received information that is important enough to allow the government to take very important decisions,” the minister said. He noted that the management of these health and safety protocols was still under review and did not specify the decisions made by the government.
Nonetheless, Bryan called on businesses to prepare for the return of cruise ships. “In the meantime, for those in the cruise industry, it’s time for you to start preparing. If you need to bring staff back to work, start contacting them now, and if you need to hire new staff, please focus on hiring Caymanians first.
The minister added, “I expect to make some exciting announcements next week,” and he urged people to stay tuned to social media and government news channels as the announcements will be good for cruises and tourism in general.
With the “amazing announcement for tourism” on Thursday, as well as increased air travel as more airlines return from more destinations, Bryan said customer numbers are expected to increase significantly. However, he believes the numbers are already going better than expected, including the arrival of around 1,200 people on Saturday alone.
There are still challenges ahead, however, and Bryan noted the problem of people testing positive when they leave. He also highlighted the need to persuade tourism employers to hire local people, as there are still issues with some stakeholders.
See the full press briefing below: