The Mandarin Oriental at Barefoot Beach is scheduled to open in 2009.
Sustainable tourism at forefront in Caymans
By Melanie Reffes
Increases in air arrivals, new
laws aimed at protecting the
environment and the promotion of new tourist attractions is keeping the Cayman
Air arrivals through April totaled
113,822, an 8.3% increase over last year, according to statistics compiled by the Caribbean Tourism Organization.
To meet the challenges of increased arrivals and emerging environmental concerns, the National Tourism Policy is being
updated and new marine conservation laws
are in place to protect coral reefs.
“Our existing environmental legislation
dates back to the 1970s, and in some instances, these laws do not address present
challenges,” said Charles Clifford, the Cayman Islands’ minister of tourism, environment, investment and commerce.
Clifford was addressing delegates at the
Sustainable Tourism Conference held in
Grand Cayman last month.
Created after Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the
National Tourism Policy is under review by
the public and private sectors with a final
report to be issued in September.
“Sustainable tourism development will
be the bedrock of the policy to address concerns, such as how we present a distinctive
Caymanian experience,” Clifford said.
One of those distinctive experiences can
be found at Boatswain’s Beach, a marine
park that is an expansion of the Cayman
Also new is the Mission House in Bod-den Town, which tells the story of Caymanian religious and social history. The Mission House is also an example of traditional
Cayman Islands architecture.
Opening next year in Grand Cayman’s
Lower Valley is the Agri-Tourism Project,
which will serve as an education center for
the preservation, promotion and development of agriculture as well as the craft and
culinary heritage of the Cayman Islands.
Other Grand Cayman developments in
the works include Camana Bay in West Bay,
which will open this fall with office space,
cinemas, shops, restaurants and apartments
overlooking the water.
Resorts on the drawing board include
the 114-room Mandarin Oriental on Barefoot Beach, scheduled to open in 2009, and
the Caribbean Club on Seven Mile Beach,
which will reopen later this year after extensive renovations.
Also on Seven Mile Beach but still not
fully operational, the Hyatt Regency Grand
Cayman remains stuck in legal red tape following Hurricane Ivan damage from 2004.
T W PHO TO B Y GAY NAGLE M YERS
Meanwhile, the resort’s Beach Suites
complex has been open for some time.
“I am a bit frustrated by the situation,
but there is very little the government can
do because it is an insurance matter,” Clifford said.
Elite Island Resorts formed a marketing
partnership with the 130-room Sunshine
Suites, across from the Westin Casuarina
Resort & Spa on Seven Mile Beach.
Cruise arrivals through April stood at
853,600, which represented 70% of all
visitors to the Cayman Islands and was 3%
above the numbers for the same period in
To ease congestion in George Town
when several cruise ships are at anchor at
the same time, the government enacted the
Go East project.
The project is described as a cruise management tool that steers visitors to attractions such as Pedro Castle and the Queen
Elizabeth Botanical Park on the less-popu-lated east side of the island.
Cayman Airways began nonstop service
from New York’s Kennedy Airport on June
24 and may add flights for the winter season, according to Clifford.
Hyatt’s Beach Suites complex in Grand Cayman is open, but the Hyatt
Regency Grand Cayman remains closed. The resort has been shuttered
since Hurricane Ivan struck in 2004.
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