Cayman among countries most impacted, report says
The emergence of Cuba as a rival for tourists and investment dollars will change the travel landscape in the Caribbean forever, industry leaders have warned.
“The likelihood that cruise lines will drop some existing ports to accommodate Cuba port visits is real and the proximity of Cuba to the U.S. mainland can allow for Cuba to be easily added to a schedule that can impact itineraries to near markets such as the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, and Jamaica,” the report says.
Caribbean tourism officials are pushing for a new partnership with the U.S. amid growing concern that the thawing of relations with Cuba will have drastic consequences for neighboring islands.
“The biggest and most disruptive pebble to be dropped into the Caribbean pool in fifty years will arrive with the opening of travel to Cuba for United States citizens,” the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association warns in a position paper.
The association says islands closest to Cuba, including the Cayman Islands, are likely to suffer the “greatest ripple effects.”
The association is looking to create a Caribbean Basin Tourism Initiative to help boost investment and travel across the region with help from the U.S. The initiative calls for technical and policy support from the U.S. to ensure the stability of tourism-based economies in the region if U.S. tourists are, as expected, allowed to visit Cuba after a 50-year embargo.
“While U.S. tour, airline and cruise executives are eyeing the tourism potential of the long-forbidden paradise 90 miles south of Key West, Florida, conflicted stakeholders throughout the wider Caribbean have legitimate concerns [over] whether there will be a level playing field and whether the rest of the region will grow tourism arrivals or lose tourism investments and arrivals as they divert to Cuba,” said Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association President Emil Lee. More
If the Cayman Islands builds a new cruise dock, destroying many dive sites in the vicinity of George Town in the process, and the islands then see some cruise lines deserting the Cayman Islands for Cuban ports where will we be then? Should these islands be developing stay-over tourism and extending the existing runway to direct accomodate long-haul flights from Europe, the Midle East and East Asia?