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Meeting with Stakeholders

Newly-appointed Tourism Minister the Hon. McKeeva Bush addressing tourism industry stakeholders on Thursday.

Leader of Government Business (Premier Designate) the Hon. McKeeva Bush, OBE, JP, met with tourism industry stakeholders yesterday (Thursday, 28 May), to review the facts and hear immediate concerns with a view to addressing them in the short-term.

Mr Bush shared the head table with ministerial colleagues the Hon. Mike Adam, OBE, and the Hon. Mark Scotland, as well as government backbench MLA and Deputy Speaker Mr Cline Glidden Jr, new Tourism Chief Officer Mr Carson Ebanks, MBE, JP and Acting Director of Tourism Shomari Scott.

Concerns were primarily voiced by representatives of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA), Association for the Advancement of Cruise Tourism (ACT) and the Sister Islands Tourism Association (SITA).

Acknowledging the negative impact on local tourism of the global economic crisis, Mr Bush, who is also the new Minister of Tourism, Financial Services and Development, told some 35 stakeholders at the Westin meeting that government would move quickly to help make a positive difference. He also confirmed that while the first meeting had a short-term focus, regular industry meetings will follow to address all issues.

Mr Bush explained that immediate initiatives would involve Cayman Airways, the cruise industry and particularly, the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA). He said that as of today (Friday), government will receive regular briefings about the national airline. Next week, meetings are planned with the FCCA in Miami, followed by discussions with airlines servicing Cayman.

"I need to be brought up to speed on the internal budgets," he said. "Then we will look to prioritise our funds for marketing, promotions and product development, especially customer service and human capital development, to make our three islands the preferred destination in the Caribbean."

Noting that local tourism has weathered trying times in the past, notably 9/11 and Hurricane Ivan, Minister Bush felt that the inbuilt resiliency of a well-organised and inherently talented industry would once again prevail. "I am confident that by working hand-in-hand and sticking together despite our differences and special interests, we can achieve a full recovery in the years ahead," he said.

"Let's get to work to make the tourism industry and product better. I don't pretend to have all the answers but I am here to lead." He further stressed that solutions were likely to be complex, given the global economy.

Initiatives in the broader spectrum would involve the airport and port development, Mr Bush also noted. He voiced his concern that the continuing post Ivan closure of the Hyatt Regency Hotel is something that needs to be addressed and he has plans to contact the owner in this regard. Mr Bush also emphasised the need to maintain a balance between cruise and stay-over tourism since Cayman, and particularly the industry's local businesses, need both to thrive.

For further information contact: Bina Mani