With all-inclusive resorts often seen as undermining the benefits that tourism offers the wider community and economy, news that the Margaritaville resort on Seven Mile Beach is adding an all-inclusive option to their product offering is raising some concerns of a slippery slope. CNS spoke to a number of people in the tourism sector, who warn that Cayman should avoid moving toward this model as it will eat into the pie that those who depend on visitors for their livelihoods currently share.
However, their concerns may not be shared by either government or other members of the private sector.
CNS reached out to the Department of Tourism about the negative impact all-inclusive resorts can have on the wider tourism product, with more of the tourism dollar going directly to hotel owners and a limited number of importers rather than being spread more widely. But they have offered no comment about where the department stands on the expansion of such all- inclusive options.
Meanwhile, the president of the private sector organisation representing the tourism industry, the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, does not see any cause for alarm. Theresa Leacock-Broderick welcomed the move by Margaritaville to expand what it can offer visitors to Cayman.
“The Cayman Islands prides itself on the diversity of its tourism product, from the five-star luxury resorts and villas to modest local home-sharing options available,” she said. “An all-inclusive resort package is not new to Cayman and this type of vacation offering to our market will appeal to certain visitors while growing and diversifying our destination.”
She said there are hundreds of fabulous restaurants where visitors can enjoy diverse culinary experiences, ranging from fine-dining to casual and beachside eateries.
“With a growing number of personal chefs and remarkable grocery stores combined with well-equipped condos and villas, our visitors also enjoy dining-in and self-catering options,” she added. “Whatever the price point, as the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean, we know our standards and our visitors’ expectations are high. We applaud the management of the Margaritaville Resort for taking on this venture and contributing another offering to the Cayman Islands tourism product.”
However, some bar and restaurant owners are concerned that all-inclusive packages often see visitors limit the amount of time they spend outside the hotel or resort, if they venture out at all. Having already paid for their food, drinks and even entertainment and trip packages up front with the price of their vacation, they miss out on the full Cayman experience and local business owners miss out on the tourist dollar.
While Margaritaville’s all-inclusive package is still one of only a few such offerings, what worries some in the business is that such a high-profile resort may trigger more of the same.
Source: Cayman News Service