Tourism development boom highlighted


As published by the Cayman Compass

Citing seven new multimillion-dollar hotel and tourism projects in the works, Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell told legislators “investor confidence” is returning to the Cayman Islands.

Mr. Kirkconnell, in his budget address, indicated that developers, buoyed by record arrival figures, will pump significant money into new hotels over the next decade.

Mr. Kirkconnell highlighted a coming construction boom in the tourism industry, which he said would help address a shortage of beds.

He outlined a list of pending projects at various stages in the development process, including:

The US$70 million transformation of Treasure Island Resort, expected to begin early next year

The redevelopment of the Old Hyatt hotel, currently going through the planning process

Dart’s Kimpton hotel on Seven Mile Beach, which is under construction

A second Dart hotel, also planned for Seven Mile Beach as part of the Camana Bay expansion, scheduled to begin construction in 2018

The Health City hotel, slated for construction to begin this year

A proposed hotel for Beach Bay in Bodden Town, currently in the discussion phase.

The proposed Ironwood golf resort in the eastern districts, still in the discussion phase.

The minister also highlighted the rebranding of the Reef Resort as a Wyndham property, bringing a new global brand to the islands.

“Investments on this scale are encouraging news and should be construed as a realistic indication of the level of confidence investors have in our jurisdiction,” he said.

Outside of the Kimpton, the Treasure Island reconstruction, the Health City hotel and the old Hyatt development were highlighted as the most imminent of the planned developments.

The minister again cautioned that the rise in tourist arrivals would start to plateau over the next two years, until new hotels and condos could be built. He forecast growth of 3 percent to 4 percent in 2015.

“While this is not the double-digit increase we have aimed for and achieved in previous years, it is still a respectable target, and there is a very good reason for it. We have reached the saturation point and are experiencing the first signs of limitations in capacity,” he added.

He said new properties would significantly contribute to adding to the 5,200 rooms currently available across the islands.

“They will also add a healthy mix of three-, four- and five-star brands to attract a wider cross-section of visitors. But it will take two years for these to start coming on stream and before we begin to see any significant measurable benefits.”

In the interim, the minister said focus is on improving marketing in secondary destinations, opening up access from the West Coast of the U.S. and improving slow season numbers through weddings and sports events.