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(CNS Business): A delegation of government and private sector officials led by the Cayman Islands premier was flown to Panama last week, courtesy of the public purse, on the inaugural Cayman Airways direct service. Although costs and numbers have not been revealed, the tourism department invited media representatives and travel agents in Panama to a ‘Cayman Night’ to promote the jurisdiction as a new leisure destination. Acting Director of Tourism Shomari Scott said travel agents are vitally important for the dissemination of information and influencing vacation sales. “The Cayman experience therefore functioned as a valuable marketing tool to educate them about the destination,” he said.
In order to solidify the government’s investment in the new CAL route, he said, the Department of Tourism has developed a media plan as well as sales promotion activities to ensure potential travellers in the Panama market keep the Cayman Islands brand in mind when choosing their next vacation destination.
Strategies have also been developed to drive them towards channels that can close the sales loop and convert potential enquires into stay-over visitors, the department said in a release.
Alongside the premier, who reportedly joined the trip to give “a Caymankind welcome”, and the acting tourism director, the Panama delegation included private sector tourism official, including hoteliers, the Executive Director for the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA), the Executive Director for the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce and other executives, who went to discuss initiatives such as outward medical tourism opportunities, government officials stated.
The goal behind this action, officials said, was to enhance future package development for the route and to help educate the Caymanian public as to the potential benefits cost-effective overseas medical care.
It is envisaged that the Panama alternative could reduce Cayman's overseas medical care bill costs significantly. Several Caymanians have now used the services in Panama, which are of excellent standard, comparable to what is provided in the US. Panama also offers trade and tourism expansion projects, as air traffic routed through the country to and from Latin America is set to increase, and the Canal is projected to double capacity starting in 2014.
The special evening of entertainment in Panama included a performance by the Swanky kitchen band, costumed carnival and pirates models and featured tastes of swanky drink and rum cakes.
“Having local Caymanian elements acted as a hook which generated excitement and allowed us to showcase two of our national events whilst also giving an informative presentation about the virtues of a Cayman Islands vacation,” said Scott. “Another of our goals was to introduce Pesantez Tours to the local Panamanian travel community, as the primary wholesaler who will package the Cayman Islands on our behalf.
“As The Cayman Islands has very little brand awareness in the Panamanian market, it is important that the rich sounds, colours and excitement are incorporated into marketing and promotional activities such as this, to help paint a vibrant image on a previously blank canvass and give a sweet taste of what we in the Cayman Islands have to offer,” he added.
Scott said around 60 to 75 of the top travel agents in Panama attended the event and some of the top TV programmes in Panama were on hand to cover the information session as well.
“We were able to excite, educate about the destination and introduce the wholesaler that will be distributing the Cayman Islands product to the travel agents, and this is ultimately the channel that will influence and facilitate travellers from this region,” he said.
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