Panama party cost $70k
(CNS): Government spent over $70,000 on a two-day promotion in Panama at the end of May when it took some 38 delegates on an excursion to the new Cayman Airways destination. Records released by the Department of Tourism following a freedom of information request by CNS revealed that the two-day event marking the launch of the Cayman Airways direct service into Panama City cost the public purse $ 71,489.16. Officials said the trip was designed to promote the Cayman Islands as a new leisure destination to travel trade professionals and to Panama’s media. The 38 delegates included guests of the premier, the Chamber of Commerce and CITA representatives, as well as private sector tourism stakeholders.
The event took place between the 28-31 May, while civil servants back in Cayman were struggling to produce the 2012/13 budget. The premier came in for severe criticism from the opposition and the public over this and other trips he took against the backdrop of the ongoing budget crisis.
The two-day party followed the inaugural flight by CAL to the destination, which is hoped will develop into an important trade route for Cayman and produce future dividends. As this was an inaugural trip, the premier invited a contingency of people, described as “influential Caymanians” in a release from the department following the trip.
“The goal behind this action was to help enhance future package development for the route and to also help to educate the Caymanian public as to the potential benefits of such areas as cost-effective overseas medical care,” officials said.
Panama is currently being cited by government as a possible alternative to reduce Cayman's overseas medical care. The country is also believed to offer trade and tourism expansion projects, as air traffic routed through the country to and from Latin America is set to increase; and the Panama Canal is projected to double capacity starting in 2014.
Meanwhile, the director of tourism said the Cayman party was necessary to help promote the Cayman brand as it is little known in Panama.
“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,” Shomari Scott he said in the release.
He added that between 60 and 75 of the top travel agents attended and some of the leading TV programmes in Panama were on hand to cover the information session.
“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,” Scott said of the $70k promotional investment.
The bill for the Panama party included $14,717.36 for accommodation at Le Meridien Hotel, Panama City, for delegates and $19,000 in airfares and around $25,000 for the main Cayman Nights event.
See details in released records below. The DoT has redacted the names of the delegates under the provisions of section 23 of the Freedom of Information Law, which deals with personal information .
|Panama delegate list.pdf||186.93 KB|
|Panama Inaugural Launch Cayman Night Activities Expenses June 22 2012.pdf||199.93 KB|
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