In a cost-cutting measure, the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism closed offices in Chicago, Houston and Miami. Twelve staff were let go as a result of the closures.

The main office in New York will continue to direct and coordinate the U.S. operations. Five home-based marketing representatives will cover assigned territories within the U.S.

"The restructuring is expected to generate more than $1.02 million in annual savings for the government of the Cayman Islands," said Shomari Scott, acting director of tourism.

The restructuring decision followed a review of the department’s effectiveness and ability to deliver on its mandate to increase visitors to the islands, according to Scott.

"The world has changed significantly, yet the organizational structure in the U.S. has remained static for almost a decade," Scott said.

"The department needs a more flexible and robust structure that allows for the best return on investment. This is particularly important in the current environment where Internet, mobile and social media are key drivers for information-sharing and decision-making."

He cited "fierce competition" from other Caribbean destinations, singling out Jamaica, Aruba and the Bahamas for their restructuring of U.S.-based sales and marketing forces a few years ago.

"To maintain and grow our market share, we too must have he ability to dynamically respond to ever changing market forces," Scott said.

First-quarter stayover visitors to the Cayman Islands increased 8.3%, with the U.S. market posting a 9.5% jump over the same period in 2009, according to figures released by the Caribbean Tourism Organization. Cruise traffic was up 1.3%.

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