If you would like to receive a monthly newsletter with the latest news from
Cayman, please send an e-mail to
News from Cayman - November 206
The introduction of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) that requires visitors and returning residents entering the US to have passports has been postponed, but only until 23rd January 2007. You can see the latest details at the US Department of State website at
Some interesting figures on the level of imports last year have been released.
The total value of goods imported in the Cayman Islands in 2005 amounted to SI$990.4 million (US$1.2 billion), of which nearly three quarters of a billion dollars worth of imports were from the US. The increase in imports is attributed to the reconstruction of the Islands in the aftermath of devastating Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.
Total imports rose by 36.4 per cent over 2004, with a pronounced increase in the importation of building materials and vehicles.
In 2003 3,354 vehicles were imported (value $29.8 million). This rose to 5,172 in 2004 ($60 million). Last year this jumped to 8,407 vehicles, valued at just under $100 million.
Cayman's main trading partner continued to be the United States of America, accounting for 76.5 percent or $757.8 million of the Islands' total imports last year.
A distant second in overall imports for the year was Netherlands Antilles with 8.6 per cent valued at $85.6 million. The Netherlands was followed by Japan, with $10.5 million or 1.1 per cent; the UK and Jamaica, each with $6.9 million or 0.7 per cent; and Canada with $6.3 million or 0.6 per cent.
Six sharks have died whilst being held in quarantine tanks at Botswain Beach. All fish that are brought to the attraction have to be held in separate quarantine tanks for 30 days before being released into the attraction tanks. In this case there was a problem with the life support system that impacted the water quality. Commenting on the incident, Tourism Minister Charles Clifford said it was to be expected that some fish would die due to natural attrition. What is worrying the anti-dolphin campaigners is his comment "We do expect that some of the dolphins will die at the facility, just as they die in the wild. It will happen".
With stiff competition from other destinations for tourist visitors, Cayman has been trying to improve its service. In September and October, officials of the Department of Tourism and the Cayman Islands Tourism Association have been giving training to over 200 taxi drivers, dispatchers and tour operators in courses entitled "Discover Cayman" and "Standards of Excellence". The taxi and tour operators have now been issued with a uniform and Tourism Minister Hon Charles Clifford said that the staff are expected to wear the uniforms when on duty. Staff in other tourism sectors will also receive frontline training to increase professionalism.
There is more pressure on the Department of Environment to act on controlling Stingray City. At the end of last month, a divemaster was attacked and bitten by an eel at the dive site associated with Stingray City. Members of the dive had been given scraps of squid to feed to the rays and it appears that the eel was after these. At least two dive companies have stopped visiting this location and others have told staff not to feed or touch the eels. In response to these reports, Director of the Department of Environment, Gina Petrie said that amendments being considered to the Marine Conservation Law would prohibit the feeding of stingrays in the area. Under consideration is the creation of "Wildlife Interaction Zones" where the amount and type of food would be controlled as well as who carried out the feeding.
A report titled Economic Impact of Cruise Tourism on the Caribbean Economy was unveiled during the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association Conference held in Cayman at the start of the month. Figures showed that Cayman was fourth for direct cruise tourism expenditure during the 2005-2006 cruise year. The US Virgin Islands led all destinations with $362 million, followed by St. Maarten with $246 million, Cozumel with $214 million, and the Cayman Islands, with $180 million. Cayman was second in the list for numbers of cruise visitors with 1.67 million visitors behind Cozumel which had 1.71 million visitors. On average cruise visitors spend $82.73 in Cayman, ninth in the list with the highest level of income in the US Virgin Islands ($179.69 per passenger). Cruise lines spent an estimated $29.4 million in the Cayman Islands primarily on port fees and taxes. Cayman Islands cruise passengers had an average household income of $100,700.
The start of the month saw a double murder at the East End of the island. According to reports from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, (RCIPS) two men received fatal gun shot wounds in the early hours of Thursday 2 November. The victims were Brenard Dale Scott, aged 36, and Roy Renold Pierson, aged 48, both of East End. It is believed that the victims, brothers, had become involved in a dispute over drugs. A 21 year old has been arrested by the police.
Fortis Inc has acquired an additional four million shares of Caribbean Utilities Company Ltd. for US$48.9 million, bringing its stake in the Cayman power provider to 54 per cent. The Newfoundland company also has holdings in Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Belize and Turks and Caicos Islands.
Red Sail Sports has taken delivery of a fourth catamaran, the Spirit of Calypso. The 65 foot boat was built in the Virgin Islands by Gold Coast Yachts. Features of the catamaran include two pontoons in the back for easy boarding after snorkelling, teak drink tables and an extra spacious interior, additional seating areas throughout with comfortable cushions and a built-in power supply for live music during special sailings. The catamaran will increase capacity for adventurous Stingray City Sails, as well as spectacular Sunset and Dinner Sails. For more details see the Red Sail Sports website at http://www.redsailcayman.com/.
In the New Year it may be possible for cruise passengers and stay-over visitors to make day trip tours to Cayman Brac. Gerry Dilbert, Owner and Operator of Reality Tours is arranging to ship a 27-seat minibus over to the sister islands, and is in talks with Cayman Airways Express. Day trippers will be offered a variety of activities, including diving and snorkelling, cave exploring, hiking, bird watching, as well as visits to points of interest, such as the Brac Museum and the Heritage House. Pricing has yet to be finalised. Mr Dilbert hopes to be offering the day trips on at least five days per week.
It was also announced that a technical team from one of the large cruise lines will visit Cayman Brac in December to look at the possibility of having smaller cruise ships, those with 200 - 800 passengers, visit the sister island on a regular basis.
The first phase of the Countryside Shopping Village in Savannah has opened to the public. Foster's Food Fair IGA, A.L. Thompson's Home Depot and Cayman National Bank and the main tenants in the 6.5 acre project. Eleven stores and four offices will open during the Countryside project's first phase, with another 10 businesses to follow with the completion of the second phase scheduled for January 2007.
The Links at Safe Haven isn't expected to reopen until March 2007 at the earliest. The driving range and putting area will open Wednesdays through Sundays for members only, from 1st December. The Links are waiting the results of an insurance appeal which has been lodged in the Jamaican courts. The appeal may be heard sometime in December. If successful US$2.5 million in funds held in escrow will be released. Davey Ebanks, general manager, said $3.5 million had already been spent on the irrigation system and other improvements. However, once the funds are released it will take at least three months to gear up for an opening; golf carts have to be delivered, cart paths constructed and staff hired.
It'll be party time this New Year!
In a press statement by the Hon. Charles E. Clifford, Minister of Tourism,
Environment, Investment and Commerce, it was announced that the Cabinet has
approved that properties which are prohibited from playing live music on
Sundays under the Music and Dancing (Control) Law will be able to operate
and play live music from 12:01am to 3:00am on 1st January 2007. What that
means is that the policy allows those establishments that are already permitted
to serve alcohol on Sundays, to be able to continue to do that and they will
now also in addition to serving alcohol be allowed to play live music after
midnight on New Year's Eve 2006.
The Postal Service has issues a new set of definitive stamps based on some of
Cayman's birds. These stamps will replace the last definitive set -
Transportation to the Millenniuam - that have been in circulations since
September 2001. The new issue shows eleven endemic and one indigenous species
and is based on some of the work by by Patricia E. Bradley and Yves-Jacques
Rey-Millet in their book "Birds of the Cayman Islands". Two of the land birds
illustrated in this series of stamps are listed internationally as threatened
- the Cayman Parrot and the Vitelline Warbler.
The stamp denominations are Bananaquit .25˘, Vitelline Warbler .50˘, Grand
Cayman Parrot .75˘, Caribbean Dove .80˘, Caribbean Elaenia $1, West Indian
Woodpecker $1.50, Thick-billed Vireo $1.60, Northern Flicker $2, Cuban
Bullfinch $4, Western Spindalis $5, Loggerhead Kingbird $10 and Red-legged
Thrush $20. Self-adhesive stamps will be available in three denominations .25˘, .75˘ and .80˘.
Patricia Bradley said she was pleased about the issue. "This is a celebration
of Cayman's land birds. It will focus attention on the most visible of the
nation's fauna." Postmaster General Sheena Glasgow said "Cayman Islands stamps
have always been known for their beauty. This issue is no different. A lot of
work has gone into the design of the issue which adds to it beauty." "I would
like to thank Mrs. Bradley for all her help and Yves-Jacques Rey-Millet for
letting us show his beautiful photographs," she said.
The Postal Service has also released their new stamps for Christams. The theme
this year is virtues - Faith 25˘, Hope 75˘, Joy 80˘, and Love $1. One letter
in each word is a design that illustrates the message in the word. Faith is
represented by the three Magi, whose faith in the star led them to the Christ
child. Hope is illustrated by a prophet speaking words of hope about the
coming of the Messiah. Joy is shown by an angel celebrating the news of the
birth of the baby Jesus. Love is depicted by Mary holding the infant Jesus in
her arms and radiating love for him. The stamps have also been adapted as Christmas cards.
For more information contact the Philatelic Bureau at
Government will soon grant 'exceptional leave to stay' to the three
Afghanistan nationals who have been here for six years, making it possible for
them to depart the Cayman Islands.
Currently the men are classified as 'unlanded immigrants.' Chief Immigration
Officer Franz Manderson explained that changing their classification clears
the way for them to travel off the Cayman Islands. "No country is going to
take them once they remain in the 'unlanded status'," he said, and added that
countries would reject them even as 'in-transit' passengers.
The men, Ali Shah Yusufy, Mohamed Raza Hussani and Nek Nazary, surfaced in
Grand Cayman in 2000 and there was uncertainty about their origin. Mr Manderson
told the Committee that a court established that they were Afghans, and had
arrived here from Cuba on Pakistani passports. The men had applied to the
Immigration Department for refugee status but this was rejected. They appealed
and the Immigration Appeals Tribunal (IAT) upheld their petition in 2003
allowing them 'limited leave' to remain on the island. Further the IAT ruled
that the Afghanis cannot be sent back to their homeland. Government has since
appealed the IAT rulings.
Mr Manderson explained that although the Afghanistan situation had changed
from what it was when the country was ruled by the Taliban, conditions in the
area from which the men originate, Ghanzi, continued to be oppressive. He said
the three men here in Grand Cayman and other Afghanis who are from Ghanzi but
currently reside elsewhere report that their relatives are still being
persecuted there. He also reported that the UK government is not returning
Afghanis from that area. "They cannot be returned even if we wanted to return them," he said.
Mr Manderson said this dilemma led him to the question: "Do we grant these
persons 'exceptional leave to remain', which is allowed in law, or do we leave
them as 'unlanded immigrants' and they remain in this position for another six years?"
It has cost government just over $200,000 for their upkeep over the years.
Mr Manderson said that at least two of the men wanted to leave the Cayman Islands.
One of these two is studying medicine and hopes to attend university overseas.
The men have been issued travel documents through the Afghan embassy in New York.
Should they decide to stay here after receiving the grant of 'exceptional
leave to remain', the Afghanis would be allowed to apply for work permits.
Mr Manderson explained that although they were here since 2000, measurement of
the time spent on Grand Cayman for the purposes of the immigration seven-year
term limit begins when the work permit is granted. This, he said, is so because
throughout their time here the men have not been legally and ordinarily
resident as stipulated by the Immigration Law 2003.
Government has approved a further loan of US$US$8.8 million (CI$7.4) for the
Cayman Turtle Farm Boatswain's Beach expansion. The new funding, to be obtained
as a 10-year loan from a local bank, is to finance the farm's operational and
capital expenses in order to complete the Boatswain's Beach project. This is the
third guarantee that Government will be granting the Turtle Farm; in
December 2003, the Finance Committee authorised the issuing of a Government
Guarantee for US$36.6 million for the Turtle Farm in support of a loan through
a direct obligation private placement bond. An additional guarantee was also
provided in the amount of US$2.2 million to facilitate the farm's necessary
short-term loan liquidity lines of credit. In March 2006, the House approved
an additional government guarantee of up to US$5 million (CI$4.2 million) for
the Farm to meet additional direct construction costs and to meet current
operational needs due to a delay in the grand opening of Boatswain's Beach.
The opening was originally slated for completion in January this year, but is
now scheduled for completion in November under it's new Botswain's Beach
branding. In addition to the Turtle Farm, features of this 24-acre facility
include a 1.3 million gallon snorkel lagoon, a fresh water themed pool, a
predator tank, an education centre, a free-flight aviary, an iguana exhibit,
tidal pools and a historic Cayman street with local artisans, 18 independent
retail kiosks and a nature trail.
The Farm has signed agreements with three cruise lines which are offering
passengers a Boatswain's Beach package. Negotiations are in progress with two other cruise lines.
Mr. Michael Adam, the CEO of Cayman Airways, has announced his at the end of
the year. MR Adams has worked for teh airline for 35 years and took the role of CEO in 2001.
Mr. Adam stated: "I have been privileged to spend a career in a field that I
love, and I look forward to passing the leadership baton so Cayman Airways may
continue to build on its successes."
Speaking on behalf of the Board of Directors, new Chairman Angelyn Hernandez said:
"Mike Adam has been an integral part of the Cayman Airways family for many
years. It is a milestone change for the national carrier. Mike is a gentleman,
a person of immense integrity, loyalty and commitment. He has led the airline
with these qualities and while change is difficult and Mr. Adam's daily presence
will be missed, the airline is committed to embracing future opportunities."
The Board has appointed Capt. Thom Guyton as the acting CEO until a permanent
successor is named. Capt. Guyton is currently the manager of Cayman Airways
Express and the vice president of Cargo. The position of CEO will be advertised
locally and overseas and persons within the company will be eligible to apply.
Speaking on these changes, Ms. Hernandez said that the airline is presently
undergoing strategic reform as a result of the recent efficiency audit. There
will also be changes as a result of contracts expiring and Immigration
limitations. The reengineering of the airline will involve a great deal of
hard work in the years ahead but will also present new opportunities for the
development of local staff.
The captain and manager of the "Sunrunner" that capsized at Stingray City in
April with over 50 cruise passengers onboard are to be charged.
Minister of Tourism, Environment, Investment and Commerce, Hon Charles Clifford
announced a moratorium on any more captive dolphin entertainment parks being
established in the Cayman Islands. However, the decision will no effect the
two existing planned attractions. They will still need "to continuously satisfy
the ongoing regulatory requirements, including those governing water discharge,
land use, public health, animal welfare, and, environmental impacts." Talking
about a number of changes in this area, he added that the revised policy
"aims to create a more robust regulatory environment, which will govern both
new applications as well as the operations of all captive dolphin facilities
which may operate in the Cayman Islands."
Some of the things I noticed looking through the legislation and press reports:
The Governor now has the power to instruct the Work Permit Board and the
Business Staffing Plan Board that expatriates in certain professions are
'key employees' and therefore exempt from the seven-year term limit
Reducing the time an expat has to off the island before resetting the clock
on another period of employment form two years to one year
Extra powers of the Chief Immigration Officer, the Boards, etc including the
ability to revoke a work permit, permanent residence or the right to be Caymanian.
Powers to senior immigration officers to impose fines on immigration offences
Scrapping the rule that people had to be over 55 to be permitted to gain
residency as "wealthy retirees", recognising that people are retiring at earlier ages
(and with dependents) - now called Residential Certificate for Persons of Independent Means
Appeals process expanded and redrafted
Residential Certificate for Entrepreneurs and Investors scrapped
Changes to the rules on Spouses of Caymanians being able to work
Should be easier for key workers to apply for permanent residence
New provisions in relation to persons who have reached the end of their
term limit but who are married to another work permit holder, a Government
Employees no longer able to work between the expiry of the temporary work
permit and the outcome of the application for an annual work permit
All firms with more than 15 employees must produce a Business Staffing Plan.
Those firms will have any applications for work permits refuse if they
haven't completed their Plan within the mandated timeframe
New offence in relation to unlawful employment
New provision for dependants of Caymanians to be granted permission to
reside in the Islands for a renewable period of up to three years
New provision for persons who have no right to be in the Islands or who
obtained permission to enter by deception to be removed without the need for a
Divi Resorts have announced that Divi Tiara Beach Resort in Cayman Brac closed
on 23rd September.
Mark Steward, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Divi Resorts, said
"While the decision to close Divi Tiara was a hard one, it was one that will
benefit the company in the long run and will allow us to concentrate our
efforts on expanding the Divi Resorts brand in Caribbean destinations with
greater opportunities for development. Certain economic realities of
continuing a dive-oriented resort on Cayman Brac also influenced our decision.
Factors included airlift issues, which have affected Divi Tiara's dive guests
in particular as they need to bring additional gear for their sport; increased
competition from the growing number of niche market dive destinations
throughout the Caribbean; and weather which in the past years has pushed up
insurance costs." Divi Resorts has eight other properties around the Caribbean in
St. Croix, St. Maarten, Barbados, Bonnaire and Aruba.
Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Charles Clifford, said that his department was working
with the Department of Employment Relations to address staff concerns over their welfare.
The Department was also working dive wholesalers and travel agents who book
dive travel to the Sister Islands, and the resort in particular, to support
guests who already have reservations, and to ensure that Cayman does not lose
business to competing destinations. He also countered the allegation of
inadequate airlift provision stating that Cayman Airways Express provides more than 2,950
air seats per month, as opposed to 2,400 seats in 2004, and 1,800 seats in 2002 and 2003,
in addition to those provided my the main Cayman Airways Jet service. The average load factor on
the Cayman Airways Express service is 72%, so there is spare capacity. Furthermore,
he pointed out that Cayman Airways Express regularly adds extra section flights
to accommodate groups to the Sister Islands when the airline cannot accommodate
groups on the regular schedule. These extra section flights are added at the
normal fare rather than charging higher charter rates for the extra sections. In
all Cayman Airways Express has the capacity to provide up to 4,850 roundtrip
seats per month to the Sister Islands.
Air fares have dropped from $156 in 2003 to the current average of $119. The minister
also indicated that there were problems with the renewal of licensing of the resort,
based on the resort not meeting minimum Hotel Licensing Board standards.
"Divi may not fully disclose all or even the real reasons behind its decision
to close the Divi Tiara property but one thing is clear. They had not
maintained the necessary standards for competitiveness and at times were found
dangerously close to being 'unfit' for occupation. This marked lack of
commitment to re-investing in the property's refurbishment and upkeep is
likely to have impacted the Divi Tiara's guest satisfaction, repeat business
and daily room rates."
Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson said a new IT system at the Immigration Department
was making it possible for his staff to look at trends in the expatriate population
of the islands. He presented an interesting statistics;
the average professional expatriate stays in the Cayman Islands only four years,
well inside the seven year term limit on work permits.
In the post-Ivan year from September 2004 to September 2005 (the busiest period in
the department's history), 21,000 temporary work permits had been issued as
opposed to only 13,000 between September 2005 and August 2006. The time to
process temporary work permits had improved during the last year from three weeks
to two to three days.
Infinity Communications and Wave7 Optics announced that construction of a
high-capacity FTTP (fibre to the premises) network, which will deliver
a "triple play" of Internet, digital television and telephone services
throughout the Cayman Islands, is now underway. The network will incorporate
the most-advanced fibre optic technology, and is expected to be available to
more than 24,000 households on Grand Cayman by the end of 2008.
Infinity will deliver fibre optic services to both residential and commercial
customers, specifically corporate and banking firms. Infinity's digital cable
television services will include video-on-demand, high definition TV,
pay-per-view and advertising programming. Internet data services will include ultra high-speed data internet access with available speeds of up to 1000 megabits per second (Mbs). Enhanced internet data services include website hosting, virtual private networks, video conferencing and interactive gaming. Infinity’s digital voice services will offer both local and international calling capability with unlimited calling plans, providing customers with unprecedented call quality and value.
The Cayman International School moved into it's new building in Camana Bay this month.
When the whole complex is completed, it will include
a gymnasium, swimming pool, five different playgrounds for children of siffernt age groups,
soccer and basketball courts. Director of the school Gregory A. Hedger said
"We take pride in our rigorous academic programme, strong community experience
and the fact that every child knows that he or she is cared about unconditionally".
Formerly known as the Faulkner Academy before being taken over by International
School Services (Cayman) Ltd in 2002, the school will be able to take children from 2 years
old to 18. Already the school has increased in student enrolment from about 67 to 220.
The school's new US$20 million facilities will offer approximately
57,000 square feet of space spread across the 13.2-acre campus.
The school's motto is "Building Character, Knowledge and Service".
The school is seen as a key development in Dart Realty's 300 acre Camana Bay project to develop
a new town to the east of the Harquail Bypass. This month also saw some of the
first residents to move into the area. The Town Centre, featuring
Caribbean-inspired architecture, courtyards, streets and walkways, is scheduled to open in late 2007.
There is a new website for the development at
The National Recovery Fund has done rather well this month.
Cabinet Minister Alden McLaughlin announced that $7.1 million in relief funds
for the Cayman Islands had been approved by the European Union, with an
initial payout of $3.7 million by the end of October. Also the Dart Foundation
have donated a further $500,000 fulfilling the pledge made earlier in the year
by Arianna Dart when she gave US$500,000 to the NRF. At that time she promised
the extra money if the local corporate community matched the first donation by the end of 2006.
Vice chairman of the fund, Conor O'Dea said "Despite the fact that Hurricane
Ivan happened two years ago, we continue to see so many needy cases that require
our help. This tells us that the re-building effort is a crucial continuing
effort and we encourage everyone in the community to recognise this through
ongoing support of the fund." Fund Executive Director Mark Laskin added "There
are some 25 additional new homes that we have approved for rebuilding and this
enables us to get going. It means that many more families will soon have better
accommodations, which is the essence of our work at the Fund."
The arguments over the proposed dolphin experience continue. In response to the
comments by Tourism Minster Charles Clifford that he didn't think such facilities
would negatively impact the environment, the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA)
have issues a statement. In it they point out that Dolphin Discovery operation
in Antigua was shut down in December 2004 due to major environmental problems.
The statement continues "Never have we ever stated or suggested that we are
opposed to these facilities because it would create competition. Our position
was that the dive visitor/Eco/Nature/Adventure tourist will not come here due
to the country's support of this type of attraction. CITA have documented many
countries that have closed dolphinariums due to the negative environmental
and/or tourism effect, and banned any further import."
"Dolphin attractions are being closed down on a regular basis in other nations;
Dolphins in captivity is against our country's goal to create and sustain a
destination of 'all things Caymanian'; Dolphin excrement is a real threat to
our marine environment, one that could cause irreparable damage to our reefs;
Captive dolphin parks will create negative international PR and have the
potential for causing eco–minded, adventure and nature tourists to avoid Cayman."
The CITA statement also quotes research from the
Global Coral Reef Alliance in Mexico stating "the types of algae found and
their spatial distributions, in conjunction with the turbidity and the movement
of the water, suggest that there are excessive nutrients, especially phosphorus,
that are coming directly from the dolphin cages. These are likely due to a mixture
of dolphin excrement and the rotting of uneaten food. Excess nutrients carried
by the currents from the dolphin cages appear to be causing serious coral reef
overgrowth by weedy algae (eutrophication), especially by cyanobacteria, in the
reefs to the south of the Chancanaab dolphin cages."
CITA stated it stands on its research, without fear of competition.
In response, a Dolphin Cove representative said "We have here a body charged with
representing the tourism industry at loggerheads with a project that is
investing US$10 million." He also challenged the survey that CITA had carried out
of it's members earlier in the year as being too small a sample to be significant.
At the time, CITA defended itself by saying that the sample size of 61 out of a
total membership of about 170 was statistically significant and of those responding to the
survey, 74% were opposed to the idea of captive dolphin facilities in the Cayman Islands,
13% were in favour and the remaining 13% were undecided.
The arguments continue.
Next time you are on the roads in Cayman be careful as the police have a new
weapon (two actually) - unmarked police cars. These will be used to catch
traffic violations including speeding, careless drivers, driving under the
influence of alcohol or drugs. You have ben warned!
Representatives from several different radio stations have signed a Memorandum
of Understanding after lengthy discussions with the Cayman Music and
Entertainment Association (CMEA). Under the agreement, the radio stations agree to
play on average at least one record by a local musician an hour. There are
exceptions to this agreement; Barefoot Man George Nowak explained that where
the music genre of a particular radio station was not well represented by
live musicians on Cayman, the radio station would not have to abide by the rule.
The first radio stations to sign-up to the agreement include
Z99, Rooster 101, Ocean 95.5, Radio Cayman, Gospel 88.7 and Heaven 97.7.
Construction of the 'East-West Arterial', an alternative highway that will
evenually link East End and George Town is due to start soon. The
first phase of three miles, which is expected to take a year to construct, will
go between Savannah's Hirst Road and Prospect's Mangrove Way. When the whole
project is completed, it will have two lanes in each direction, but to start
with there will only be one lane each way, with the space inbetween for future
Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville has not opened acress from the cruise ship
terminal in George Town. The property has a souvenir shop,
seating for 650 people and two bars. An open-air swimming pool with a water
slide will open soon.
The Esterly Tibbetts Highway has finally opened - part time! Because of
safety fears due to lack of lighting the new road will only be open between 6:00am
and 7:00pm with a speed limit of 25 mph. The new road runs from the Galeria
roundabout to Raleigh Key near the former Indies Suites.
According to one celebrity news website, British actor Orlando Bloom (Haven,
Pirates of the Caribbean) is looking to buy a retreat in Cayman.
"I'd love to have a place there. The temperature is beautiful and the people
are delightful." After spending some time with local fishermen he added
"I didn't know anything about the Cayman Islands and now I know I love life
there. Making Haven there was like a working holiday."
Haven, written and directed by Frank E. Flowers, is the first major motion
picture shot entirely in the Cayman Islands. The website for the movie is at
The Cayman Islands Postal Service has started to introduce Post Codes. Even
though all mail (apart from express mail) is
delivered to Post Office Boxes, Post Codes should now be included in the address.
Post codes have a format KY9-9999 where KY1 indicates Grand Cayman, KY2 for
Cayman Brac and KY3 for Little Cayman.
Of the last four numbers, the first two identifies the post office and the last
two numbers identifies a section of post boxes at that post office.
This means it will no longer be necessary to include the Post Office code after the
The recommended format for an address is:
PO Box number
Grand Cayman Post_code
For example PO Box 1000 GT has a post code of KY1-1102, PO Box 100 STB has a post code
KY2-2101 and PO Box 50 LC has a code KY3-2501.
Full details of the postcodes, including a postcode finder and Postcode Addressing Guide
can be found at
Postmaster General Sheena Glasgow explained
that postal addresses are read from the bottom during sorting.
"Now [Postal Service employees] have to read one less line," she said.
"There's less information to process with postcodes."
The postcodes will also allow mail to be partially sorted at the Airport Post
Office facility prior to shipment to other post offices.
Unique postcodes in Grand Cayman will range from KY1–9000 to KY1–9999 will also
be offered for sale, allowing individuals or companies to have their own individual code.
Ms. Glasgow said that they are also looking at offering
mail delivery to businesses with unique postcodes, with a simultaneous pick–up of outgoing mail.
Costs for these new services have yet to be finalised.
The Cayman Islands' legislation to counter money laundering and the financing of
terrorism has been officially recognised by Jersey in the Channel Islands.
The Jersey Financial Services Commission recently added the Cayman Islands to
its list of countries and territories considered to have an equivalent
anti–money laundering framework as Jersey's.
The move is of significant benefit to Cayman–based financial institutions and
their clients that do business with financial institutions in Jersey. It
allows Jersey's customer identification procedures to be satisfied if the
client has met Cayman's customer identification requirements. This potentially
saves time and resources that would otherwise have to be spent processing and
supplying know-your–customer documentation to Jersey in order for business
transactions to be done there.
The listing of Cayman comes after months of discussion between the Cayman
Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) and its Jersey counterpart as well as CIMA's
lobbying at international forums such as the Overseas Group of Banking
Supervisors for reciprocal recognition of equivalent anti–money laundering/counter
terrorist financing frameworks among jurisdictions, states a press release.
Leading industry publication "The Banker" has given a ringing endorsement to
the Cayman Islands as an international financial centre and outlined the upbeat
prospects for the jurisdiction across a range of sectors.
A special report on the Cayman Islands in the July issue of the magazine set
out Cayman's strengths in hedge funds, which it described as the
"undisputed jurisdiction of choice", as well as being a leading location for
captive insurance and structured finance special purpose vehicles. Cayman's
banking, trust and corporate services sectors were also recognised, as were
the developments and growth at the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange.
The report also portrayed how Cayman has strengthened regulations to deter
criminal activity and improved overall supervision, as well as winning praise
for the lengths it has gone to meet, and even go beyond international standards.
A common theme, running through the articles on banking, hedge funds and
captive insurance in Cayman was the flexibility of the legal and regulatory
framework and the open and regular dialogue between the government and the private sector.
Three prominent figures in the dive industry have come together to speak out
against the introduction of captive dolphin facilities in Cayman.
President of the Women Divers Hall of Fame and marine environmentalist
Martha Watkins Gilkes and pioneer underwater film producer and photographer Stan Waterman
joined up with renowned local underwater photographer Cathy Church to speak out
against captive dolphin facilities.
A new website
http://dolphinfreecayman.org/ has been
launched to help publicise the campaign.
Ms. Gilkes warned "a lot of divers are very eco–tourist minded and they could
possibly boycott coming to Cayman, and that's a strong word and I'm not saying
I'm encouraging or threatening it, because I live in the Caribbean and I would
hate to see any of our islands boycotted, but divers are very environmentally
astute and aware and we are all aware of the terrible stress coral is in
worldwide from global warming, pollution and abuse by man."
"I would like to suggest that the Minister of Tourism should carefully consider
the potential damage to the tourism product if they go ahead with this sort of development."
Mr. Waterman added "As one of the first inculcated
into what we call the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame, I know all of
the people who have been asked to join that organisation and I myself will
contact all of them and suggest that they back this block to the dolphin development here."
Ms. Church noted that a majority of the board behind the International Scuba Diving Hall
of Fame ceremony in January 2007 had decided that Botswain's Beach wouldn't be
used as the venue because of the possibility of a dolphin facility being set up there.
Minister for Tourism and the Environment Charles Clifford responded that
he doesn't believe the environment will be negatively impacted by the proposed captive dolphin facilities.
He also believe that there will be a negative impact on the dive industry.
"I don't anticipate any impact on the dive industry other than perhaps on the
commercial side, as a dolphinarium will admittedly introduce further
competition in the market but we do operate a free market economy and that
will not change. Our dive industry is and has always been important to our
tourism industry and economy and the Government will continue to put
significant support behind it as it has from the birth of our tourism industry."
A two–week old male Antillan manatee found off the shore of West Bay has now
been was to be flown to Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. The manatee has been named "4B" after the
initials of the four men who spotted and rescued him – Mark Bothwell, Barry Bush, Brett Burell and Craig Burke.
According to Janice Blumenthal, Department of Environment Research Officer,
"As he is so young we think his mother became lost in a storm and gave birth to
4B in Cayman. It is most likely that his mother came from Cuba. We are not
sure how he has become separated from his mum but we are urging everyone to be vigilant and let us know if they spot her."
The air ambulance, a Lear Jet 25 volunteered by Trinity Air Ambulance,
had to be slightly modified to make it possible to fly the manatee.
It is the first time that Trinity Air Ambulance have been asked to
evacuate an animal.
The emergency air–lift came after a US CITES permit was rushed through after
concerns regarding 4B's health.
Ms. Blumenthal added that
Lowry Park Zoo features a Manatee and Aquatic Centre where 4B will receive
specialist care from trained manatee experts and veterinarians.
"They have one of the best manatee rehabilitation centres. They are skilled at
caring for injured and orphaned manatees."
At a meeting of the People's Progressive Movement national council,
Minister for Education, Training, Employment, Youth, Sports and Culture, Alden McLaughlin said
"Either Cayman sticks with some form of rollover or in five years other
people will be in control of this country". Under the rollover policy
and the seven year term limit, employees on work permits that have been here
that length of time are "rolled over", must leave, and cannot return to Cayman
to work for two years, unless designated an exempted employee.
Mr McLaughlin said that some of the areas under consideration for review of the
Immigration Bill include
the provisions for exempted persons and permanent residency.
"The government understands that there's a growing resentment among our own
people about feeling overwhelmed in their own country," he said.
"We chose to have that growth but we have to strike a balance and find a
means to reduce the numbers of people living here long–term".
Cabinet Minister Charles Clifford commented recently that the rollover policy
may in future also apply to government employees; these are currently exempted
from the seven-year term limit. "I do believe that it will be a fundamental
error if we do not apply the provisions of the rollover policy to Government employees".
"For us to attempt to put this in the current legislation, would have delayed [the current
draft Immigration Law amendments] at least six months, perhaps much longer".
Realtor Paul Aiken has set up a blog for people to air their concerns, and recent postings
have focused on the rollover policy. The blog is at http://cayconcerns.blogspot.com/
There have been several reported sightings of a female hammerhead shark in shallow
waters off Seven Mile Beach.
It is believed that the shark may be pregnant and
Assistant Director of the Department of the Environment (DoE) Tim Austin spoke to reassure
people that this doesn't pose any significant threat. Hammerhead sharks are not naturally aggressive.
"The female sharks come into the shallow waters during the summer
months to give birth,and then go back to the deeper water."
"Because of the very nature of these sharks and the clarity of our water,
the chance of an attack is very low," said DoE Research Officer John Bothwell.
A Marine Enforcement officer was sent out to view the shark and confirmed it
was a large hammerhead with a fat, pregnant looking belly.
Minister for Tourism Charles Clifford told the Caymanian Compass that
he efficiency audit recently conducted on Cayman Airways by Lufthansa
Consulting is not to be made fully public. He said disclosure of the full report
"would not be in the best interests of Cayman Airways as it would give their
competitors inside information on the company and make it even more difficult for them to compete".
Lufthansa Consulting is now engaged in the Strategic Direction Phase, which
he expects to receive shortly. "Once the Ministry and Board have agreed on
this plan, the implementation will then be the responsibility of the Board and management".
The 1,011–page report highlighted 67 quick wins, some of which
are already being implemented, 49 action plans, 168 projects and 840 initiatives.
"We do believe that complete implementation (of the recommendations) will
take 12 to 24 months and thereafter we need to ensure proper maintenance of the
new systems, processes and procedures".
The Board of Cayman Airways has also been restructured. The minister announced
"The total number of directors was reduced in order to bring the membership
more in line with international governance models".
The directors no longer have individual areas of responsibility. Instead,
they are collectively responsible for the National Flag Carrier, Mr Clifford
noted. "This change allows the new board to focus as a team on the areas of
good governance, policy and oversight," he explained.
"I trust that the new board, management and staff of the airline will
receive the community's full support as we strive to build a stronger, more
sustainable airline that continues to contribute to the economic welfare of
all three Islands."
Angelyn Hernandez has been appointed chairman of the board, replacing
Ms. Hernandez, a lawyer by profession,
joined Quin & Hampson in 1992 and was made a partner in 1995.
Cayman Airways has completed it's purchase of the Sammy's Airport Inn for
CI$2.85 million for use as its corporate office in Grand Cayman.
The minister also announced that the airport won't be moving - there has been
proposals to re-site it in the East End.
"The Government has very carefully considered this matter and for a number of
very cogent reasons has decided to redevelop the Owen Roberts International
Airport instead of relocating this key piece of infrastructure to another part of the island."
Tower Marketing have published some of the results of the largest
consumer research survey yet conducted in the Cayman Islands. They looked at
incomes in three ranges:
"low income" (less than CI$2,000 per month), "middle income" (CI$2,001 to CI$4,500 per month)
and "high income" (over CI$4,501 per month).
About 40 per cent of total respondents earned CI$2,001–CI$4,500 a month, of whom
67 per cent were Caymanians and only 33 per cent were expat.
There was less difference between the two groups in the higher end of the
middle income bracket, with Caymanians and expats comprising 53 per cent and
47 per cent respectively in the CI$3,001–CI$4,500 a month income range.
Of the roughly five per cent of the sample earning incomes in the higher
income range defined as being above CI$4,501, 57 per cent were Caymanian and 43 per cent were expat.
"The post–Ivan construction and development boom seems to have paid off,
as respondents working in these sectors represented 37 per cent of the total
sample who were in the high income bracket," Carolyn Lawe Smith of Tower Marketing said in the release.
Of the roughly 20 per cent of residents in what the Omnibus Survey defines as
the "very low income bracket" – those with monthly earnings of less than CI$1,500
– the survey found that work permit holders made up almost three-quarters,
while Caymanians comprised only 26 per cent.
Tower Marketing expect to carry out a second survey in about five months' time.
Some more information from the Annual Report for 2005 mentioned last month has been
highlighted in the local press. Average per-capita income is now $39,801, up from
$38,173. The construction industry sector grew by 36.4 per cent to reach
$990.4 million in 2005, compared with $725.9 million in 2004 - apparently this
surpassed the tourism sector.
Did you know that if you are a Cayman Island's Government employee, you have
to retire at 60? Many private sector firms also follow this rule. Now, some
experts are warning that the mandatory retirement age may have to be reconsidered.
According to the Director of Employment Relations, Walling Whittaker,
"Over the next 10 years, the outflow of Caymanians from the workforce will be
higher than the inflow of young Caymanians entering the workforce."
"A lot of people at 60 are still healthy, have tremendous experience and
talent and they want to continue working, but they are forced out the door too
early. We already have a shortage of Caymanians in the labour market and it
is just going to get worse as more Caymanians reach 60. The challenge is to
re-examine the mandatory retirement age as a country."
Director of Child and Family Services, Deanna Lookloy added
"I see many people who are in their late 50s and early 60s who are looking
for jobs and no one will employ them because of their age." Ms. Lookloy added
that the mandatory retirement age should be raised to be more in line with
people living longer and healthier lives.
Last year's Labour Force survey revealed that nine percent of the Caymanian
workforce is over 60; in ten years time the figure is likely to be nearer 19 percent.
The Permanent Residency Board will sit again soon now that the Cabinet has
reviewed the regulations and points system.
Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said the new Regulations will also
weigh investments in Cayman against earnings.
"Speaking generally, it's not that the entire point system has been done over
and revamped. There were four or five areas that needed some tweaking and needed to be changed."
From 1 September 2006, Cayman Islands employers will be required to obtain
police records from that Honduras' Direccion General de Investigacion Criminal,
for any Hondurans that require a work permit application.
Roman Dolejs, Chef de Cuisine of the Grand Cayman Marriot Beach Resort's Solana
Restaurant, has won the prestigious annual Chef of the Year 2006 award at the
Cayman Islands Culinary Awards of Excellence Competition.
Cayman Net News has launched a weekend edition of their newspaper. Weekender
features seven sections including a TV and Entertainment Guide, Woman Today, Teen Cayman,
Lifestyle, International News and Local News. This is the first Saturday/Sunday
newspaper for Cayman.
The audit of Cayman Airways Ltd (CAL) by Lufthansa Consulting has been completed and a report of
over 1,000 pages has been given to Government. Commenting on the report,
which hasn't been made public, Hon Charles Clifford, Minister of Tourism, Environment,
Investment and Commerce said it contained 49 action plans, 168 projects,
approximately 840 initiatives and 67 'quick wins'. The original scope of the report
included Human Resources, Information Technology, Marketing and Sales,
Route Planning and Scheduling, Operations, and Purchasing and Supply. During the
exercise, it was broadened to include Finance, Ground Handling and Marketing,
Promotion, Product and Branding. Mr Clifford revealed that the report
highlighted "a number of high-level deficiencies". These included a
lack of company strategy or business plan that looked forward more than a year.
There was also little communications between departments;
"In terms of management practices there is a silo mentality,
whereby departments seemingly act without due consideration for ... their counterparts".
However areas concerned with safety in the audit, namely Flight Operations and
Maintenance & Engineering "received very strong commendations".
"It is also noteworthy that these areas are subject to ongoing audits from
regulators, such as the Civil Aviation Authority, and no doubt, this process
of constant review and direct accountability accounts for the consistently
high standards of safety and performance" Mr Clifford said.
One of the areas identified for improvement was "a failure to collect charges
for excess baggage", so next time you are flying with Cayman Airways, check the
weight of your bags!
The report is now being used
as a basis for consultation between the Cabinet, the CAL Board, the airline's
management and staff.
Leader of Government Business Hon Kurt Tibbetts confirmed that the Pink Hibiscus
Mealybug (PHM) has now been found in West Bay. There is also speculation that a
third area in Bodden Town may have been infested. Mr Tibbetts added
"Regulations will be introduced to control the movement of plants in and
out of the infested zones, in order to reduce the spread of the bug". To reduce
the chance of the Sister Islands being infected, their is a ban on movement of
cuttings and fresh produce from Grand Cayman to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
Members of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) are still campaigning for
the implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) to be delayed.
The WHTI requires all travellers entering the US (including US citizens)
from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda after
1st January 2007 to have a valid passport. Members of CTO are worried that this
policy will have a serious effect on the tourism business in their countries.
According to statistics from the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA),
only about 40 percent of Americans visiting Cayman have a passport. Another relevant
statistic is that Americans are the largest nationality group to visit Cayman,
accounting for 40% of visitors.
At a recent meeting the Secretary General of the CTO, Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace,
said that reimbursing new US passport holders could be an option. One resort in Anguilla
has already launched a package that has a heavy discount for those that make the
resort their first destination in their new passports.
A Hurricane Pet Shelter is in the planning stages. When constructed, the shelter would accept
dogs, cats and rabbits and is also considering taking hamsters.
Land directly adjacent to the prison has been donated for the project by
Prison Director Dwight Scott. Kathleen Bodden–Harris,
Co–Director of the Hurricane Pet Shelter, said
"Mr. Scott stated his support of our project and the possibilities of further
involvement to promote reform and rehabilitation within the prison system".
The new shelter's location has 12 kennels, which were going to be used to house
the prison's guard dogs, but the dog handlers decided it would be safer to keep
the dogs inside the prison compound.
The kennels survived Hurricane Ivan with minimum damage.
A hurricane-proof building has been ordered and is in storage.
Mrs. Bodden-Harris is appealing for funds for the project.
CI$30,000 is required for the materials necessary for the foundation and
erection of the building.
Once operational, pet owners must pre–register their animals with the shelter
to ensure they can get access to the shelter once a hurricane warning is in place.
If you are wish to donate (and live in the Cayman Islands), write a cheque to the Cayman Islands Humane Society
(note on the cheque that it is for the Hurricane Pet Shelter fund). Mail the
cheque to the Humane Society at PO Box 1167 GT, or drop it by the Society's
office on North Sound Road.
US citizens wishing to make a tax–exempt donation to this cause can mail cheques to:
Friends of the Cayman Islands Humane Society
Tax ID#/ EIN# 522376265
7012 Union Avenue
Grand Cayman got hit by another earthquake on 12th July. The magnitude 4.5 tremor
had an epicentre 30 miles east of George Town at a depth of 6.2 miles. There
were no reports of damage or injuries.
A local resident was imprisoned for 15 months for taking marine life from a
Marine Park off Seven Mile Beach. The George Town resident (for some reason
his name hasn't been disclosed) was caught in June with 21 conch and one lobster.
At the time he was on bail, having previously committed a similar crime. This is
the longest prison sentence delivered for marine offences to date, but the
Department of Environment (DoE) say that such offences will be vigorously
prosecuted in the future.
The National Hurricane Plan has been updated and is now available online at
There are lots of sections, covering roles and responsibilities, communications,
economic impact assessment, initial clearance and debris management, search and rescue,
medical relief, mass fatality management, etc.,
as well as separate sections for the Sister Islands. One part of the evacuation plan has
been highlighted in the local press:
"The current policy is that all persons ordered to evacuate such areas shall
do so for the safety and preservation of lives."
"Persons failing to evacuate as ordered face arrest, possible conviction and penalties."
Of the plan, National Hurricane Committee Chairman Donovan Ebanks said:
"[it] looks to address various shortcomings that Ivan exposed.
It still doesn't mean it's a foolproof plan… but it brings it up to addressing the major shortcomings."
Speaking at a recent seminar in Cayman,
Dr Pablo Suarez of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Centre on Climate Change and Disaster Preparedness
warned that climate change will affect the tourism sector in the Cayman Islands.
He warned that "coral reefs are dying in part because of changing ocean
conditions that may affect tourism." With more construction taking place,
"you have more properties exposed to hurricanes and other extreme weather events".
Dr Suarez called on Caymanians to play their part in preventing the worsening of climatic conditions.
"One option is to reduce pollution, avoid changes in the atmosphere so that the
climate does not get worse. In addition to reducing pollution we should think
of adaptation, getting ready for a climate that will get worse."
The berthing facility for cruise ships has taken another step forward.
Tourism Minister Hon Charles Clifford said the
"The project to establish berthing facilities in Grand Cayman has begun. The
initial phase, an environmental impact assessment, has just started.
The Port Authority and the Ministry are working with the Department of
Environment and an international environment firm to ensure that best
practices are observed in the plan, design and build of the facilities."
Public consultations on the project are due to begin in September.
The minister went on:
"Berthing facilities will take Cayman from the yesteryear of cruising and
will allow us to provide a safer, standardised and enjoyable experience to
those who call on our shores.
When you have berthing facilities disembarkation and embarkation are simplified and shortened."
The project will include berthing facilities for up to four ships.
With the new facilities planned, the cap on the number of daily cruise visitors is also
to be reviewed.
A group of officials from the Cayman Islands government and the private
sector recently made a visit to a US company marketing technology that uses
saltwater to generate energy.
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) technology is based on using the
temperature differentials in deep ocean water (approximately 40 degrees F)
and the surface water temperature (approximately 80 degrees F) to drive
turbines. This process produces steam, fresh water and electricity.
Minister of Communications, Works and Infrastructure Arden McLean said
"A major benefit of this technology is that it provides a source of renewable
energy. With the current price of oil, there is potential for big savings on
energy costs. Additionally, as no fossil fuel will be used, the emission of
greenhouse gases is eliminated."
If built, Caymans proposed plant is land–based and would be able to provide 10
megawatts of electricity and 3 million gallons of fresh water per day.
One of the major issues that needs to be addressed is if the utility companies involved,
Caribbean Utilities Company and the Water Authority and/or Cayman Water Company,
need to agree to purchase the power generated and the water produced.
The first–ever Bachelor of Science degrees have been awarded by the
University College of the Cayman Islands.
One of the graduates, Erica Bush, in her Valedictorian address said
This is the first Bachelor of Science degree graduating class. We have earned
the right to be remembered. We are the ambassadors of the University College
of the Cayman Islands and are part of the beginning of a promising future
in the level and quality of education provided in the Cayman Islands."
At the degree ceremony, over 170 degrees were presented including
64 Associate Degrees, 55 Vocational Degrees and 51 Professional Degrees.
Atlantis Submarine has recently started up night time tours offering a fun
adventure that the entire family can enjoy.
The tours depart just after sundown from the Atlantis Submarine offices on
South Church Street, George Town. The night–time tours are offered Tuesdays and
Thursdays. Tours cost US$89 or US$49 for children.
For further details, check out their website at
or contact them by e-mail at
Walker's, one of Cayman's largest law firms, has taken over Crills Advocates,
a Jersey-based provider of institutional offshore and domestic legal services.
The firm will now be able to offer Jersey legal and administrative services in
jurisdictions around the world including Cayman, London, Dubai, the British Virgin Islands, and Hong Kong.
Grant Stein, Walkers’ Global Managing Partner, said
"Jersey is a key jurisdiction for many structured finance products and
investment funds promoted in Europe. As a result, Jersey is a market which
complements our Cayman Islands' structured finance practice and market–leading
hedge funds practice, and should be a core focus for Walkers."
Preparation site work has begun on a new condominium community called Lakeside.
The 195 units will be built around a man–made lake just north of the centre of
Seven Mile Beach on the Harquail bypass. The community will also feature
two pools and an oversized feature pool, clubhouse and a gymnasium, extensive
landscaping and ample parking. The construction of the condos will feature
six–inch–thick solid concrete/steel walls coupled with Styrofoam layers which
will offer greater insulation leading to lower utility bills. To be able to
withstand hurricanes and storm surges, the buildings will feature standard seam
roofs, and floor level will be set at seven feet above sea level - two feet higher
than required to meet planning approval.
You either loved it or loathed it, but the Glass House government
administration building will be demolished. The space will be turned into a
public park. However the demolition won't take place for a couple of years as
planned replacement offices won't be completed until then. When it is knocked down,
Because of fire code issues, the Governor's Office moved from the Glass House
last summer. The government has now decided it would not be cost efficient to
make the renovations necessary for continued use.
It has also been decided not to sell the Tower Building property. Some of the site
will be turned into additional parking area for the Legislative Assembly and the
rest into a public green area.
Cabinet Minister Alden McLaughlin said
"We have no plans for the property, but we're cognisant of the fact that 20 years from now, we might need it."
Government did go out to tender for the job of demolishing the Tower Building,
but only one response was received, and that was deemed unacceptable.
Two "message in a bottle" stories this month:
Back in 1987 Tortuga Rum, Sunset House and Cayman Airways launched twelve bottles
containing vouchers for a one–way Cayman Airways ticket to Cayman to claim
a case of Tortuga Rum, with a stay at Sunset House. Four prizes were claimed within
18 months; these bottles were found at South Padre Island in Texas.
In April 2003 Texas police officer John Reed found a fifth bottle whilst
fishing near Conn Brown Harbor in Aransas Pass, Texas. Not having any plans for a holiday
at the time, no arrangements were made but Mr Reed confirmed that the vouchers
were still valid. As he is now getting married, he has decided with his fiancée
Stepahnie to visit Cayman for their honeymoon.
Their prize has now been upgraded by Cayman Airways to two roundtrip tickets
and Sunset House has extended the stay from three to five nights.
The Department of Tourism (DoT) are providing ground transportation for them,
along with a special horse–drawn carriage ride, to Grand Old House for dinner
(courtesy of the restaurant). The couple are also to receive
dinner at Café Med (from Mr. Hamaty - owner of Tortuga Rum) and a DoT gift
basket containing local products and crafts.
The bottles that were launched back in 1987 had been coated with liquid
plastic and sealed with a special epoxy glue to safeguard the vouchers inside.
Each contained a message typed on the Tortuga Rum Company's letter head:
"12 Tortuga bottles were released today, Saturday 13 June, 1987, off the
shores of Grand Cayman Island, British West Indies at exact position
latitude N1920.5 longitude W8127.5 by the personnel of Cayman Airways,
Sunset House Hotel, and Tortuga Rum Company. Best wishes to the finders
from all of us! Please return your bottle and state date and location found to claim your prize ...".
Somewhere there are seven bottles with vouchers still to be claimed!
Back in 2004 when visiting Cayman to get married, Erik and Nicole Landrowski of Illinois
went out fishing with friends on the day before their wedding. They launched
a bottle with a message in it that was found this month on a beach at Westward Ho!, Devon, UK.
(Little known fact courtesy of Wikipedia - the English town of Westward Ho!,
named after the novel by Charles Kingsley, is the only place name in the
United Kingdom that officially contains an exclamation mark. There is a town
in Quebec called Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, which officially contains two
exclamation marks in its name.)
An American couple visiting Cayman to celebrate a wedding anniversary had a
longer stay than they expected.
Lee DeShawn Young and his wife were charged with possession and importation of
an unlicensed .22 Ravenarm handgun.
Young pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to seven days
imprisonment and fined CI$3,000.
Young had stored the gun in a suitcase and then forgot it was there when they
flew from Detroit, Michigan, to Miami, and then from Miami to Grand Cayman.
During this trip the handgun was not detected. It was only when they were
returning home that it was detected by the X-ray machine operator screening
The US Transportation Security Agency (TSA) has announced that pre-check-in
baggage searches are no longer required for flights into the US from Owen Roberts
Airport in Grand Cayman. However baggage will continue to be x-rayed post check-in.
This should speed up pre-flight preparations, but airlines are still advising
passengers to arrive at the airport two hours before departure.
After extensive renovations post Hurricane Ivan, George Town Library has reopened.
The library has a collection of 24,000 books and work is continuing to replace the
reference and biography collections which were completely destroyed.
The restored library facility now boasts a new standing-seam roof, new
shelving and new wheelchair ramp access. The floor has been raised six inches.
Learning technology enhancements are also anticipated, including ADSL links
for transferring electronic files and a complimentary 'Hotspot' Internet
connection which will be provided by Cable and Wireless for library patrons.
Breaker's Lagoon in Boatswains Beach has now opened. For an entry fee of CI$28 for adults and
CI$16 for children under twelve, visitors will have access to observe the
turtles swimming in the breeding pond or stop by the touch tanks.
Visitors can now enjoy a refreshing, cool dip in the new fresh water tidal lagoon.
In September the park will also introduce such additional features as a
snorkel lagoon filled with thousands of reef fish, a predator tank, a
Caymanian streetscape with local artisans, musicians and storytellers as well as
a couple of food outlets.
In April's news I mentioned that a Cayman company that went into liquidation was
sueing Barclays Bank.
The Commercial Court in London held that Barclays Bank wrongfully provided
facilities for Architects of Wine Limited to convert
cheques through a London branch of Barclays after the bank accounts of
Architects of Wine Limited were frozen in the Cayman Islands amid allegations
of widespread fraud and US regulations intervention.
Chris Johnson, managing director of liquidator Chris Johnson Associates Ltd, said
"We are particularly pleased by the decision, especially as it is so hard to
find a UK legal firm which is willing and able to sue a clearing bank."
Architects of Wine Limited was selling wine securities – which it was not
licensed to do – and then transferring receipts to offshore accounts. As they
emptied the coffers, processing some of the money through London and later
Italy after its Cayman Islands accounts were shut down, the company continued
to solicit additional funds from investors, ostensibly in order to protect and
further appreciate the original ill-fated investments.
Mr. Johnson concluded this is a significant win against a major international
financial institution and would set the stage for a wider effort to recover
some US$25m lost by several hundred defrauded investors almost all of whom
are physicians resident in the United States.
Overall fiscal balance of the central government (CI$ million)
Overall fiscal balance of the central government (% of GDP)
Outstanding debt of the central government (CI$ million)
Outstanding debt of the central government (% of GDP)
Total money supply (M2, in CI $billion)
Cruise ship passengers (in thousands)
Stay-over tourists (in thousands)
Mutual fund licences
Banking and trust licenses
Stock exchange listings
Building permits (CI$ million)
Planning approvals (CI$ million)
Property transfers (CI$ million)
Total fixed and mobile telephone lines
A new issue of stamps, "Cayman's Aquatic Treasures", has been released. The six-stamp
issue is the first series in over ten years to feature marine life, and also
reflects the new postage rates.
Postmaster General Sheena Glasgow said "Although the Quincentennial stamp
issue included a couple of fish, this commemorative issue is dedicated to our
islands' marine life. Our collectors have requested marine life for quite some
time now. So I expect Cayman's Aquatic Treasures to be a very popular issue".
The stamps are based on underwater photos taken by Richard Brooks and Elisa Buller
who were both employed by Little Cayman Beach Resort at the time the issue was put
The stamps feature the Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) 25˘, Grey
Angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus) 25˘, Queen Angelfish (Holocanthus ciliaris) 60˘,
Diamond Blenny (Malacoctenus boehlkei) 75˘, and Juvenile Spotted Drum (Equetus
punctatus) $1.00, with the Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus) on the
First Day Cover. The series also includes postcards and self-adhesive postage stamps.
First Day Covers with stamps are CI$3.65 and the souvenir sheet costs CI$2.85.
For further details contact the Philatelic Bureau at
Law firm Appleby Spurling Hunter is to merge with Jersey firm Bailhache Labesse.
In 2004, local law firm Hunter & Hunter merged with Bermudan firm Appleby
Spurling & Kempe. The new firm which will start business on 1st September 2006, will be
known as Appleby Hunter Bailhache and have nearly 600 staff and over 40 partners.
The firm will have offices in Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands
and Jersey as well as a presence in the major financial centres of London and Hong Kong.
In other corporate news, Wilmington Trust, one of America's largest personal
trust service providers, has announced that it has acquired PwC Corporate
Services (Cayman) Limited (PwCS), a provider of company administration and
bookkeeping facilities in the Cayman Islands, from the accounting firm
Speaking at a workshop set up
to help local businesses get more benefit from cruise operators, Director of Tourism Pilar Bush said
that the Cayman Islands has to work harder to give tourists value for money.
"Cayman is not perceived to be good value for money. We need to take this on
board as a country. We are challenged with this perception. This does not mean
things have to be cheap. It means we have to add value". Referring to the
results of a travel survey, she said that 94% of visitors to the Caribbean were
aware of the Cayman Islands. Cayman outperforms competitors as a family destination,
but is deemed to be a less romantic destination that some Jamaican resorts.
However, Cayman scores highly for water sports, diving and shopping, but
received lower ratings for nightlife, restaurants and culture.
"The perception is that this is not an interesting culture. We know this is not true, we are just not packaging it right."
Bush suggested that local businesses looking to cater to cruise ship guests could
consider moving into the performing arts, locally made arts and crafts and
unique retail outlets.
Hardly had the hurricane season started than a depression settled over the islands.
According to local weather stations, Tropical Storm Alberto dropped
over 19 inches of rain at Sunset House, 17 inches of rain in the East End and 11 inches on Crewe Road.
The bad weather also meant that the Queen's Birthday Celebration and Garden Party were postponed.
This compares to an average monthly rainfall for June of under 7 inches. The heavy rain
lead to some localised flooding; one wave of bad weather brought over 2.5 inches of rain in just over an hour
and wind speeds around 50mph caused damage to at least one power pole.
At a recent seminar to discuss storm surges across the Caribbean, Cayman
Island's meteorologists said that the expect the islands to be affected by four
hurricanes every five years if current weather conditions continue.
Even though the islands may not suffer a direct hit, there was a good chance
that the country would feel the effects from the hurricanes. In 2005 Cayman
didn't suffer a direct hit, but felt the force of hurricanes Emily and Wilma.
The Meteorological Office has also adopted a new modelling tool to deal with storm surges.
TAOS - The Arbiter of Storm - has been specially tailored to Cayman's needs.
Senior Meteorological Services manager Fred Sambula said that the tool
gives "pictorial information on possible impacts and predicts how storm surges affects the coastline".
Sambula added that he believes TAOS is superior to other modelling tools as
it only needs a small amount of data to predict when storm surge, winds, and waves are likely to become a problem.
The largest cruise ship in the world made it's maiden visit to Cayman this month.
Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas can carry up to 4,375 passengers, but on
this cruise only had 3,600 passengers. Royal Caribbean is adding two more ships
of similar size to it's fleet in the coming years.
An American property developer, Stanley Thomas, has paid US$100 million to buy
300 acres of land just north of the Cayman Islands Yacht Club and Salt Creek. He
has also bought 1500 feet of Seven Mile Beach property (this compares with the Hyatt's
200 feet frontage and the Marriott's 330 feet). Real Estate experts are saying that
this has the potential for development of a massive five-star standard resort to include
an 18-hole golf course, marina, residential frontage and beachfront villas.
According to Kim Lund, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Cayman Islands' monthly report into
the Real Estate sector, (see
"One does not invest about US$100 million dollars in land without planning to
develop it and realize a return."
"At this stage, it is still too early to determine what will happen with this
accumulation of properties until a master plan has been completed. However,
with the amount of investment already made to acquire these properties, some
sort of development, not unlike the Hyatt and Ritz-Carlton will likely take
place in the near future, but on a larger scale."
The Department of Agriculture is working to contain and eradicate the pink
hibiscus mealybug (PHM), a serious plant pest that has been discovered in George Town.
Samples sent to the Florida Department of Agriculture's laboratory confirmed the outbreak.
The pest feeds on plant sap and also releases toxic substances that may injure
or slowly kill the plant. Signs that a plant has been infected include
white, cotton-like masses on the plants, stick secretions that attract ants.
In the mid-1990s, PHM caused economic losses in excess of $3.5 million a year
in Grenada and $125 million a year in Trinidad and Tobago, according to US Department of Agriculture reports.
Department of Agriculture's Assistant Director Adrian Estwick said that plans
developed in 1996 to deal with the threat including cultural, classical biological,
chemical, and legal controls to combat the pest would be implemented.
"With cultural control, the department will focus on removing and destroying
heavily invested plants; classical biological control refers to importing
and releasing natural enemies of the PHM."
"Chemical control involves the responsible use of pesticides in specific cases,
mostly nurseries, to work toward zero tolerance for PHM. Lastly, legal controls
could include quarantines of nurseries and garden centres if they become
infected, as well as the implementation of laws governing within, as well as
inter-island, movement of plants."
One of the steps being taken is the importation of a wasp, Anagryrus kamali, from
Puerto Rico. The US Department of Agriculture has agreed to send 5,000 wasps a
week to the Caymans for the foreseeable future. These will be released
in the affected areas, along with thousands of parasitic beetles with the hope that,
within a year, the mealybug will have been 90% eradicated. The Department of Agriculture (DoA)
have issued a presentation (in Adobe Acrobat format) about the mealybug with photos
showing infestation and the DoA's strategies for containing and eradicating the
pest and informing residents how they can help
Last year Treasure Island Resort was bought and the new owners said that it would
not be trading as a hotel, but would be available for long-term leases. Well, they
have now changed their minds, and some 50 of the 290 renovated rooms will be made
available as a tourist hotel. A further 30 odd rooms will be constructed in the area
above the lobby in the next nine months. Subject to completion of central building work (a new entrance lobby, etc),
approval will be sought from the Hotels Licensing Board towards the end of the year
in time for peak season.
The current rollover policy has come under criticism from new quarters.
Some of the members of the Council of Associations, a body representing
professional associations in a number of private industry sectors, have written
to the the Chairman of the Immigration Review Team recommending a number of changes
to the policy on the seven–year term limit for work permits and Permanent Residency.
The letter was backed by the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce,
the Cayman Islands Bankers Association, the Cayman Contractors Association,
the Cayman Islands Insurance Association, the Cayman Islands Bankers Association,
the Cayman Islands Fund Administers Association, the Cayman Association of Architects, Surveyors and Engineers,
and the Cayman Islands Tourism Association. Whilst accepting the term-limit
protected interests for Caymanians, the Council said
"there is genuine concern and fear of the future of certain business sectors
because of the ability to attract and maintain professionals and skilled workers
which are in short supply locally and globally". One recommendation is that
businesses should be able to specify a percentage of key staff and key posts
that should be exempted from the term policy. They also believe that the points system
for Permanent Residency should be reviewed. A copy of the press release is on the
Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce website at
President of the Cayman Islands Society for Human Resource Professionals,
Samantha Bennett, said the rollover policy is one of the most important issues
that local Human Resource professionals are facing. Ms. Bennett added
"Someone may be perfect for a job that you can't find a Caymanian for,
but you have to consider how long they have been here on the Island. If the
candidate is close to seven years - then you have to consider if it makes sense
to bring this person on for a year, if you are going to have to look for
someone else within 12 months. This is not just about skills or training
Caymanians anymore. This is not just about applying to Immigration for
work permit renewals. There are additional factors." She added that some HR managers
are examining employees resumes to see if there has been a six month break in
their residency that would effectively mean that the seven year clock has been reset.
Many businesses are now looking at succession planning, but valuable staff are being lost:
"some people are still feeling cornered and are moving away when it gets
close to their seven years or they stop trying to better themselves, because they know they will be leaving".
One employment agency on Cayman, BrightStaff, is now offering a service to find jobs
overseas for those have hit the seven year limit on their work permit in the financial sector.
BrightStaff President Kathleen Jackman said "Many professionals are considering
leaving the island as a result of the term restrictions set out in the roll
over policy. As some employees were not fully aware of their window of
opportunity for applying for permanent residency, the need to identify career
opportunities off the island may be very immediate."
BrightStaff's Quality Assurance Manager Cheryl Farquharson added "The hedge
fund industry in the greater Toronto area is growing rapidly and for Cayman's
professionals wanting to repatriate or move to Canada, there are a variety of
opportunities. Toronto clients are stressing their desire to specifically
recruit individuals from the Cayman Islands who have gained valuable
experience in the offshore hedge fund industry." BrightStaff are also recruiting
for financial positions in New York, London and Bermuda with leading financial services firms.
Wild dogs have killed two Cayman Blue Iguanas, mauled a pregnant female and a fourth
iguana is missing (feared dead) from the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park. The dead iguanas,
Slugger and Sapphire, were both part of the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme and had been born in 1997 and
released into the park in 1999. Fred Burton, director of the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme said
"They were not tame, but they were not afraid of people. They were like ambassadors.
Thousands of visitors admired them and took their pictures, which are now all over the world."
Several dog traps have been set. Mr Burton added that
"If we succeed in catching the dogs, we'll have to put them down". He added that
unfortunately irresponsible pet owners are making their job harder.
"Well–meaning people are bringing animals to the park and abandoning them,
thinking park staff will be kind to animals. We have found kittens, full–grown cats,
puppies and green iguanas and we have absolutely no option but to trap them and remove them.
They have no place here and they're damaging the native wildlife we're trying so hard to protect."
Should you wish to donate to the Blue Iguana Recovery Program, then you can through their
website at http://www.blueiguana.ky/
Minister of Tourism Charles Clifford has announced that George Town Harbour has
been chosen as the site of the berthing facility for cruise ships. The project
now enters the design phase, with plans to be drawn up. Mr Clifford added that
the recommendation of the National Tourism Management Policy to limit cruise
visitors to 9,200 per day will have to be revised to take into account the improved
Caribbean tourism officials are campaigning for the postponement of the implementation of the
Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which is supposed to take effect 1 January, 2007.
Under the scheme, US citizens would have to possess a valid passport when re–entering
the US from a Caribbean destination. However, a recent survey of cruise
ship passengers showed that only 45% had passports. Vincent Vanderpool–Wallace,
secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, said
"The reason for a further postponement must be that the pick up of new passports
by US citizens has been nowhere near the numbers that we would like to see".
"We recognize that we have an added problem, which is that so many people have
been so accustomed for so long to waking in the morning and deciding to go to
the Caribbean because they didn't need a passport, that there has to be an
extensive campaign to let a lot more people know about this new requirement."
"We've done surveys of US travellers to the Caribbean who currently hold valid
passports and although the numbers seem to vary with each survey, some results
show that up to 70 per cent do have passports. However, I will not be comfortable
until at least 90 per cent of the US market has passports."
Rick Webster of the Travel Industry Association added "Things are confusing.
One possible outcome is people won't travel. There could be tens of thousands
of people who decide not to travel because they're concerned about what
documentation they'll need." Mr Webster also advises Americans
"If people are planning any type of travel after January of 2007, get a passport. Run, don't walk".
The Information and Communications Technology Authority (ICTA) had launched a
public consultation document on Unsolicited Electronic Messages (Spam). The
paper seeks to discuss and obtain feedback on the various policy issues which
are raised when considering anti-spam legislation. The objective is to ensure
that any anti-spam legislation enacted in Cayman Islands is an effective tool
as part of a multi-pronged attack on spam.
The 17-page discussion document (in Adobe PDF format) can be downloaded from
Closing date for comments is 18th August 2006.
Cayman Airways Express' two new De Havilland Twin Otters have been christened;
the Cayman Brac Adventurer and Little Cayman Explorer. The addition of the two
planes means that there will now be six daily inter-island round trips.
As a result of a survey of Post Office users earlier in the year,
the Cayman Islands Post Office is making plans to open on Saturday by the end of summer.
More that 1,500 people completed the survey, and 69 per cent of respondents
want the Post Office to open on Saturday. The alternative, extended weekday
hours, was selected by 53 per cent of respondents.
The Airport Post Office is the most used facility with nearly 40 per cent of respondents;
General Post Office came in second with almost 30 per cent;
and Seven Mile Beach was third, with 26 per cent. The tasks that most respondents were
unable to complete during regular hours are purchasing stamps (about 31 per cent),
followed by dealing with parcel post (27 per cent) and using Registered Mail (about 29 per cent).
876 respondents said they do not want home delivery and 1010 people (over 66 per cent)
said they would not be willing to pay for that service.
Postmaster General Sheena Glasgow said that she was not totally surprised by the results.
"The results show areas of both strength and weakness. Initiatives such as Saturday
openings and customer service training for front line staff will be addressed
by the end of the year. The introduction of stamp vending machines is being considered".
Also under consideration is a service whereby a customs-cleared parcel can be
delivered directly to a customer's home or office. A larger facility at
Savannah is also in the planning stage.
As the second anniversary of Hurricane Ivan approaches, the National Recovery Fund
is still campaigning for donations. When it was established in September 2004, it
set itself a target to raise CI$15 million, believing this to be the monies required
to cover the majority of the island's rebuilding. So far the fund has
been responsible for the rehabilitation of the homes of 800 families.
However, to date the fund has only raised CI$10 million. At least another 130 families
are still in need of assistance, many of them requiring major and costly
repairs or rebuilds to their homes.
The damage caused by Hurricane Ivan was widespread. 13,535 houses (83% of the housing stock)
were severely damaged. The value of this damage has been estimates at CI$1.4 billion.
Information on the Fund and how to donate is on their website at
Pedro St James Castle has finally reopened after being wrecked by Hurricane Ivan
in September 2004. The Cayman Islands Tourism Attractions Board has overseen
a CI$1.3 million renovation of the property including landscaping. CI$1 million
came from insurance claims, with the remainder being paid by the Department of
Tourism. Several new attractions have been added to the site, including a
memorial to Hurricane Ivan made from stones washed up by the storm and wood from
a tamarind tree that was blown down. The memorial has 12 stones placed in a circle (to represent
the day of the storm), nine chairs (to represent the month) and four tables (to represent the year).
With the hurricane season about to start, here is the list of names to look forward to
Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac,
Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sandy, Tony, Valerie
and William. The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has updated it's predictions for this
season and are predicting a very active season.
"For the 2006 north Atlantic hurricane season, NOAA is predicting 13 to 16
named storms, with eight to 10 becoming hurricanes, of which four to six
could become 'major' hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher," explained
retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of
commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.
For the full press release see
Cayman Airways have announced that they will retire one of their Boeing 737-200
planes in March 2007, reducing the number of their jets from five to four.
President and CEO of Cayman Airways Mike Adam explained that the plane
is scheduled to have a 'D' check in March - this safety check entails taking
the whole plane apart for detailed inspection. Given the high cost of the work,
it has been decided to sell the plane. The sale shouldn't have an impact on
the routes or services that the airline provides; it's schedule is based around a
fleet of four planes.
The Auditor General, Dan Duguay, has published a critical report on the
construction of the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal. Criticism include:
no project implementation strategy, flawed contractor selection process,
overcharging by the main contractors (Misener Marine Corporation and Hurl stone Ltd),
design and changes not properly authorized, lack of legal counsel on the contract,
poor governance, etc.
Duguay concludes that the the project could have been completed for at least
CI $4.2 million less than the final project amount, which is estimated to be
CI $18.5 million when completed. The terminal is due for completion this summer.
The full 60-page report is available at
The Burns Conolly Group Limited, responsible for project managing the work have
refuted main of the report's conclusions. Their press release stated:
"The report, in the opinion of the Burns Conolly Group, contains numerous
inaccuracies, assumptions and conclusions that do not appear to have been based
on the full facts and circumstances surrounding this project". It also said
"Regarding payments under the contracts, all were only made after approval by
an independent Quantity Surveyor acting on behalf of both lending banks and the
Port Authority,". "Any suggestion that this process allowed the contractors to
overcharge for works is grossly misleading and inaccurate".
Hurlston Ltd, one of the main contractors in the project also issued a press release:
"The Special Report and subsequent public comment have created in the eyes of
the public the impression that Hurlston Ltd. overcharged for the upland
portion of the work". The press release continues that Hurlston were rewarded the
contract after "a very rigorous and extensive tender and evaluation process". The
press release concludes "In the opinion of Hurlston Ltd., it is most unfortunate
that a good project, so important to the Cayman Islands, has been so unfairly
criticised and politicised by a process that supposedly is intended to offer a
fair and balanced review".
In response to these press releases, Auditor General Dan Duguay said he would
not apologising to Burns Conolly Group Ltd or withdrawing the report.
"There is no provision or mechanism to withdraw the report, and even if we
did have the mechanism, I would not be withdrawing the report, because I
feel it is fair and balanced". Burns Conolly Group had threatened to sue
over the report, but Duguay replied "any lawsuit will be vigorously defended
with all the resources we have because we feel it is a fair report".
With regard to the press release from Hurlston Ltd, Duguay responded
"my complaints are not with Hurlston. The Port Authority picked a contractor
that was higher than the lowest bidder and did not explain why.
We’re not saying that they had to take the lowest bidder, but if they were
going to take a higher bidder, they should say why so that everyone can be
sure there was value for money. My question is to the Port Authority is why
did they take Hurlston’s bid when there was a lower bidder".
More cruise-related news. The latest tourism statistics are at
There were 28,403 stay-over visitors in April (down about 3,000 on March 2006), but
up almost 13,000 on the same time last year.
Cruise passengers were also down in April by over 70,000 to 182,790. However this
is over 16,000 up on the figure for April 2005.
Another gay cruise visited Grand Cayman at the end of the month.
Carnival Cruises’ Inspiration was running a "Gay Days" cruise. The ship can carry
Tourism Minister Charles Clifford has announced that the government will
begin to enforce a policy of allowing a maximum of 9,200 cruise passengers a
day by the end of this year. However, there may still be some days where this
level is exceeded as some cruise companies make booking up to two years in advance.
Existing bookings would be honoured.
Work on a palm garden has started at the Botanic Park. The garden will
showcase palms from all around the world including
Buccaneer Palm (Dominican Republic), the Zombie Palm (Haiti) and the Variegated Christmas Palm (Vanuatu).
The palms will be planted to augment the local plants (Silver Thatch, Bull Thatch and Cuban Royal Palms).
Work is also taking place at the park on a Heritage Garden and the Rankin House, an
old style Caymanian house.
Mr. Tennyson Bodden, a local craftsman specialising in old crafts, has been working on
wattling on the cookhouse and re–thatched the roof and built a hut in the area
used for growing crops.
Future plans for the park include a children’s educational garden, orchid garden,
cactus and succulents garden, biblical garden and a bird watching tower.
Government has announced tax measures to raise CI$23.3 million for the year 2006–07.
The bulk of the revenue (CI$17,7 million) will come from raising stamp duty on
real estate (but not above pre 9/11 levels), raising the building
permit fees and infrastructure fund fees, and increases in work permit fees and other
general revenue fees. Postal rates are to increase: local postage rates are
proposed to increase from 15 cents to 25 cents. Basic international rates
are proposed to increase from 30 cents to 75 cents for International Group A
(which includes the US); from 40 cents to 80 cents in International Group B
(which includes the UK); and from 60 cents to CI$1 in International Group C.
Stamp duty will be six percent of the purchase price for non-Caymanians and companies and
four percent for Caymanians. However, for both groups the duty will be 7.5 percent
for those properties located along the West Bay Road corridor and in certain parts of George Town.
Work permit fee increases include executive secretaries (up from CI$1,650 to CI$2,500);
professional managers (from CI$4,950 to CI$7,500);
professional managers in tourism (from CI$4,070 to CI$6,000);
skilled construction workers (from CI$1,210 to CI$1,500);
and unskilled construction workers (from CI$275 to CI$375). The work permit fees for
domestic, manual and unskilled labourers stays unchanged at CI$150.
There are also increases in the licence fees for boats over 18 foot long, and for
jet-skis (up from CI$100 to CI$200 for private use).
The Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson's paper to the Legislative Assembly "A Key to Success: Responsible
Financial Management" that has the full details of the proposed changes
is available at
You can also see the text of the speech by the Leader of Government Business,
Hon. Kurt Tibbetts entitled "Keys to our Future: Leadership, Compassion, Prudence
and Vision" which outlines how the budget is to be spent at
The existing Immigration Law and Regulations are currently under review, but
given the concern that has been expressed by some sectors of the economy at the
problem the seven year limit to work permit causes, Mr. Tibbetts gave some
indications of the changes that may be included in a new law.
Speaking in the Legislative Assembly he said:
"the Government recognises that the policy must be measured in its
application so as to ensure that we continue to enjoy the economic
prosperity for which these islands are well known." "...steps must be taken to
ensure that employers continue to have access to sufficient expertise and
manpower in order to have business continuity."
"Although we intend to retain the current procedure that allows for individual
applications for exemption to be made to the relevant boards, the Government
has taken the decision to create a more robust tool to address this concern by
creating a new provision that would vest in the Governor in Cabinet the power
to designate particular categories of employees in particular industries or
sectors of the economy as exempted". He explained that this would allow Government to
respond to changes in local and global employment markets by adding/removing categories
as required. He also said that the issue of acquiring residence needs to be addressed;
"... unless there is some meaningful correlation between exempting and acquiring
permanent residence, few employers will be able to recruit the calibre of
individual needed to fill vacancies in their workforce".
A brush fire in the East End that had been burning for more that a week threatened the Salinas Reserve, which is home
to numerous species of native wildlife, including the Cayman Blue Iguana. The
Mosquito Research and Control Unit spray plane was utilised to fight the fire, dumping
eleven loads of fresh water to douse the area.
Next time you visit Cayman you may have your papers scanned electronically and have
your photo taken. Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson said that the equipment
should be installed in he next few months. After discussion with other
BritiSh Overseas Territories, the immigration service has decided not to fingerprint visitors and
only scan machine-readable passports and take digital photos. The installation
of the equipment will help the Immigration Department move to a paperless environment.
Nautilus Cayman Ltd has been awarded the annual Princess Cruises'
"Tour of the Season" Award for its Undersea and Reef Snorkel Tour for the second year in a row.
Caribbean Utilities Company Ltd (CUC) has placed an order with
MAN B&W Diesel AG of Germany, for the purchase and installation of a 16 MegaWatt
diesel–generator and auxiliary equipment. The new equipment will be installed
at CUC's North Sound plant and will be commissioned in summer 2007. The project cost
will cost about US$18.4 million.
Richard Hew, CUC President and Chief Executive Officer, said
"It is quite apparent that residential and commercial development on Grand
Cayman is continuing to grow at an impressive pace. This growth has presented
us with a significant challenge to restore generating capacity in time for
this summer's peak demand, which is expected to surpass the pre–hurricane
level of 85 MW. Additionally, with many residences and commercial buildings
under construction and expecting service within a year beyond this summer,
our 2007 generation expansion is necessary to enable us to meet new demand and
continue to serve our existing customers reliably".
President of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association Karie Bergstrom announced that
stiffer penalties and enforcement are to be implemented on tourist accommodation
not in compliance with licensing regulations. Ms. Bergstrom said that there were
several loopholes in the 1974 Tourism Law that were to be tightened up. These
include owners of condos operating their own rental business without the apartment
being licensed as tourist accommodation. Licenced accommodation is inspected on a
regular basis and issues including health, safety and fire are checked.
Inspections are carried out by the Department of Tourism, Department of
Environmental Health and the Fire Department to ensure that Cayman offers a quality
product to visitors. Ms. Bergstrom pointed out that 64% of visitors to the
Cayman Islands are repeat visitors and word of mouth was one of the best marketing tools, so
inspections and licensing are important.
Who would think that sand could be so expensive! Last October there was a shortage
of sand on the island. Anthony Watler needed some building work carried out on
his property damaged by Hurricane Ivan, especially as the Planning Department
had served a notice on him to take down his temporary accommodation. So Watler
hired Horace Reid to help build and repair his house. When they couldn't find
the sand they needed, they drove their truck to the beach and took the sand from a
pile on the other side of the road to the beach. The sand they took was valued at CI$46.
Under laws to protect the marine environment, it is offence to remove sand from
the shoreline, but the shoreline is 500 feet wide and so can cross a public highway.
Watler and Reid were each fined CI$250 for removing the sand without the
written permission of the Central Planning Authority. Watler was fined a further CI$500
for not complying with the Planning Department enforcement notice and Reid was
fined a further CI$2,330 for driving without a licence, without insurance and
without registration and warned that if caught again for driving without a
license or insurance he would be locked up. Total bill for the sand: CI$3,330.
The Harquil Bypass/Esterley Tibbetts Highway extension from the Hyatt Regency
Hotel to the Courtyard Marriott Hotel is now scheduled to be completed by the end of July 2006.
The project relies on a road bridge (apparently the first to be built in Cayman)
over the canal at the Ritz–Carlton. The construction of the bridge is the
responsibility of the Ritz-Carlton, who will hand it over to Government (in effect the
National Roads Authority) who is responsible for building the 1.6 miles of road.
However, by the end of June other elements of the project will have been completed;
two lanes from the Hyatt to Palm Heights, four lanes from Palm Heights to the
Ritz–Carlton, four lanes from the Ritz–Carlton to the Courtyard Marriott,
and the reconfiguration of the Governor's Harbour roundabout.
The Conch Shell House, a popular tourist attraction, has been purchased by
George and Susan Craig. The Craigs are using the front of the house
as a showroom of their new business, BlueEyes Granite,
offering travertine floors, granite countertops as well as installation services.
The rest of the house
has been donated to Cayman HospiceCare that offers palliative care to the community.
The visible work on the Owen-Roberts Airport expansion project could begin soon.
Phase 1 will include the expansion of the parking lot and improvements to the roads system
could start by 1st July. The tender for the main part of the construction should go out in
the autumn. The aims of the expansion project include passenger boarding bridges,
separate international and domestic passengers, separate arriving and departing passengers,
increased retail space and the ability to handle larger aircraft. It is hoped that
the whole project will be completed by October 2008.
The Performance Freedive International Team were in Cayman for "Cayman 2006 - SINK FAZE"
this month to make attempts on more Freediving records. Czech freediver Martin Stepanek
set a new world record in the Constant Ballast discipline (swimming down to
depth and back to the surface with fins and a ballast weight) with a dive of 106 metres
(348 feet) in a dive lasting 3 minutes 55 seconds. A few days later he increased
this to 108 metres (352 feet) in a time of 3 minutes 50 seconds. He also set a new world record
in the Free Immersion discipline of 106 metres (348 feet). Free Immersion
requires the diver to pull down a cable to depth and back up, without fins.
Mandy-Rae Cruickshank set a new Canadian National record in the women's
Constant Ballast category with a dive of 80 metres (262 feet) in a time of 2 minutes 36 seconds.
Dr. George 'Doc' Lopez set a new United States record in the Free Immersion category
with a dive of 51 metres (167 feet). For more information and videos of the events see
the Performance Freedive International website at
The record holders also have their own websites at
http://www.avex.cz/martin_stepanek/news.php (Martin Stepanek)http://www.mandy-rae.com/ (Mandy-Rae Cruickshank)http://www.deeperblue.net/bio.php/148 (Dr. George 'Doc' Lopez)
Last month I mentioned that the Turtle Farm had sent 20 turtles to Sea Life
centres in Europe. This has met with protests from various conservation groups
and international Non-Governmental Organisations condemning the UK government
for approving the shipment that the protest groups consider to be illegal under
the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) -
an international treaty prohibiting the cross-boundary trade of
certain endangered species, including all sea turtles. In 2002 the UK government
tried to get the Turtle Farm registered as a "captive breeding" facility under CITES;
this would have allowed the Farm to trade turtle meat and shells internationally.
However, as part of the registration process, the Farm had to prove that all of
it's breeding stock was obtained legally. The government of Costa Rica protested
and showed that some of the Farm's stock was likely
obtained from Costa Rica without documented legal authority.
A letter signed by leading conservation groups, including the
Caribbean Conservation Corporation, the Ocean Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare
has been sent to the Belgian Minister of the Environment, the Secretary General of CITES,
the UK Minister for Nature Conservation and Fisheries and Sea Life Centres.
See the letter at
The Ministry of Tourism has decided to reschedule the Pirate's Week festival. The
new dates are now 9th November through to 19th November. It appears that several
factors have led to the change; many events were cancelled or rescheduled in 2005
because of the bad weather - October is one of the rainiest months in the Cayman Islands.
Pirate's Week also clashed with Fantasy Fest in Key West held during the last
week of October. The Ministry hope that by changing dates they may attract visitors
from the festival in Key West. The schedule for 2006 is now on the official web site
Arianne Dart chose a gathering of high-level contributors to the National
Recovery Fund to announce a surprise donation of US$500,000 and the promise of
a second, similar amount should corporate donors match her gift.
A Cayman company that went into liquidation last year is now sueing Barclay's
Bank in the UK. Architects of Wine Limited (AOW) sold wine investment contracts.
The liquidators, Chris Johnson Associates, have discovered that
AOW had a bank account held in Cayman by Barclays' affiliate FirstCaribbean
International Bank into which payments from investors were deposited.
However, following a Cease and Desist Order issued by the State or Arkansas in May 2004,
FirstCaribbean's correspondent banks in the US, of which Barclays' New York
branch was the principal one, refused to accept any further transfers on behalf of AOW.
Around the same time Architects of Wine (UK) Limited, a separate subsidiary of the
same parent company, Paradigm, requested Barclays to open a US dollar account
in addition to its sterling account.
Cheques in excess of US$1 million made payable to the Cayman business were
deposited into the US$ account of the UK company.
The lawsuit claims that the cheques made payable to AOW and deposited into one
or the other AOW UK accounts were at all times property of AOW and that the
collection of those cheques by Barclays amounted to a wrongful conversion of AOW property.
In addition to the US$1.31 million, AOW is claiming interest on the money,
costs and further or other relief.
Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts has said that there is the
potential for an outbreak of Dengue Fever in Cayman this year.
Dengue Feever is spread by the bite of specific species of mosquitoes,
usually the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
Assistant Director Dr. Alan Wheeler of the Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU)
said Aedes aegypti has reappeared on Grand Cayman.
"We've eliminated it several times, but it keeps coming back. Hurricane Ivan
created the perfect conditions for it. It will take a while to get it under control."
The mosquito eggs can lie dormant for up to two years - all it needs is a little
rain to hatch.
Mr. Wheeler said Aedes aegypti is now here in sufficient numbers to cause the
potential for a Dengue Fever outbreak, but he thinks it would probably only be an isolated outbreak.
The MRCU have completed pre-season sprayings. Aedes aegypti will only breed in
clean, fresh, non–salty water. Common places for breeding include buckets,
children's toys, old tyres and in blocked gutters. Mr. Wheeler said it is
important for home owners to make sure there are no places where fresh water
can accumulate and offer a breeding ground for mosquitoes. The MRCU's plane that
was damaged in an accident in February has been repaired and returned to Cayman.
Work on calibrating equipment and software will now resume. The plane is expected
to be operational in time for spraying before the start of the rainy reason.
Philip J. Klotzbach and William M. Gray of Colorado State University have issued their
forecast for the 2006 hurricane season. There has been no change to their figures since
their report in December 2005. They are predicting 17 named storms, nine
hurricanes and five major hurricanes of Category 3 or above this year. This compares
to an annual average of 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 major hurricanes
for the period 1950 - 2000. Their report is available online at
The statistics for the 2005 hurricane season have been revised.
The Tropical Prediction Center/National Hurricane Center in Miami announced
the storm on 10 April, saying that on rare occasions it identifies a
previously unnoted tropical or subtropical storm from new data or
meteorological interpretation. The storm in question started just west of the
Canary Islands on 28 September, developed into a subtropical depression on 4 October as
it passed the Azores west of Portugal. This brings the total number of storms
recorded in the Atlantic basin for 2005 to a record-breaking 28 storms. The
highest previous record was 21 storms set in 1933.
Kirk Sea Tours' Sun Runner capsized near the sand in the North Sound. The
boat was carrying 54 cruise passengers from the Costa Mediterranea, a cruise
ship escort and three crew. There were no serious injuries. The accident is being investigated
by the Police maritime unit with assistance from the Port Authority
There is a fairly damming eyewitness report at
Cabinet Minister Alden McLaughlin announced that the Cayman Islands should soon
be receiving $5 million from the European Development Fund (EDF) to help with the
Hurricane Ivan recovery. Under normal circumstances aid from the EDF is capped at
3.61 million euros ($5 million), but under special circumstances this can be
increased to double this. The Cayman Islands government, supported by the British
government, are seeking the higher figure, but there are several legal hurdles
that have to be overcome first. Mr McLaughlin said
"We've been advised to put in place the steps to get this money. We remain optimistic we'll get that money soon."
One of the conditions of the aid package is that it doesn't go directly to governments;
it will go directly to the Hurricane Recovery Fund.
Tourism Minister Charles Clifford announced that the contract for the audit of
Cayman Airways has been awarded to Lufthansa Consulting, which is part of
Lufthansa Airways in Germany.
The audit will look at human resources, information technology, marketing and sales,
route planning and scheduling, operations and purchasing and supply chain.
The results of the audit aren't expected until June.
The results of the Labour Force Survey carried out by the Economics and Statistics Office (ESO)
in October 2005 showed that the population of the Cayman Islands has increased to 52,465.
Tourism statistics for March have been released and are available at
Air arrivals increased by over 6,000 on February's figure to 31,493. This is a
significant improvement on the figure of 18,810 for 2005, but below the 2004 figure of
37,248. Hotels reported an occupancy rate of 79% and apartments reported a 56.6% occupancy rate.
Cruise arrivals rose from 180,675 in February to 253,124 in March - the
highest recorded figure for March.
After more than 50 years, Barclays has announced that it is exiting the local
retail banking market. Subject to regulatory approval, it will sell it's 47.3%
holding in FirstCaribbean to its partner in the four-year-old joint venture,
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC). CIBC is offering US$1.1 billion for
Barclays share of the business.
Barclays and CIBC combined their Caribbean businesses in 2002 to form
FirstCaribbean, operating in 17 countries in the region.
However, Barclays will still have a presence on the island. Barclays Private
Bank & Trust (Cayman) will continue to operate independently, with
around 20 staff.
There has been a temporary change to the law on fixed-term work permits.
Expatriate workers will be allowed a last nine-month extension on an expiring
permit, enabling employers an extra opportunity to recruit replacements.
The change in the law comes about after complaints by a
number of businesses that their operations could be compromised by the sudden
departure of critical personnel approaching the seven-year limit on permits.
Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson said "Fixed-term Work Permits will
not be granted as a matter of course - in each case the employer will be
expected to put forward a compelling case as to why the relevant employee is
essential to the company and why he or she cannot be replaced immediately".
The change in the law also plugs a loophole whereby someone at the end of
the seven years, appeals their departure and drags out the legal process over a
year so that they can claim the eight year residencey required to qualify for
The latest work permit figures show there are almost 18,000 people with work permits;
12,956 people on valid full work permits, and another 4,992 people on valid
temporary work permits. It is estimated that about 8,800 people have temporary
or annual work permits that are being processed.
The make up of the expatriate work force by nationality has changed some since Hurricane Ivan.
Jamaican's account for 8,118 permits (down from over 9,000 in September 2004).
The next biggest nationality group is Canadian (1,522 - down 22 from 2004).
Filipinos now make up the third largest group of work permit holders with
1,339 in total, up 220 from 2004. They are followed by the United Kingdom
with 1,262 (down 54 from 2004), the United States with 1,246 (up 38 from 2004),
and Honduras with 1,113 (up 91 from 2004).
A popular hotel with divers, Seaview Hotel, is to close. Seaview Hotel was badly
damages by Hurricane Ivan and was deemed to be damaged beyond repair. The
property has been purchased by an investment company and will
be developed as a three–story, 23–unit luxury condominium complex to be
called The Seaview Residences. The Residences are likely to be of
interest to those working in the financial sector as it is within
walking distance of George Town.
Another group has come out against the proposed captive dolphin swim programs.
The Cayman Islands Tourism Authority (CITA) has polled it's members and a
majority are against the schemes. Furthermore, a paper from the watersports
sector of the CITA is urging the Government to put laws in place to prohibit
captive dolphin facilities in Cayman.
Unfortunately it may be too late.
Minister of Tourism Charles Clifford said that any legislation that the
Government might introduce with respect to dolphinarium facilities in Cayman
could not, as a general principle of law, have retroactive effect.
Government has acknowledged that there may be little it can do to stop the attractions.
The Department of Agriculture has granted import permits for bottlenose dolphins,
planning permission for construction has been agreed and the Water Authority has
granted at least one discharge permit. Two separate schemes have planning approval:
Dolphin Discovery (Cayman) Ltd. is to be located at the site of the old Turtle
Farm in West Bay, as part of Boatswain's Beach (but privately run) and
Dolphin Cove Cayman is to be located south of Calypso Grill in Batabano, West Bay,
by the North Sound. I've seen one news report that there are three planned
dolphin attractions, but haven't been able to get full details on the third operation.
Cayman continues to develop projects to protect Cayman's environment and
biodiversity with the official launch of the Cayman Islands Darwin Project
funded by a six-figure UK Government grant. Cayman's bid for the US$300,000
Darwin grant had been successful in the face of global competition. There are three
elements to the Cayman Islands Darwin Project.
The first is the creation of habitat maps for the marine and terrestrial
environments using a combination of remote sensing and biological survey techniques.
These maps will be used to establish the baseline for measuring future rates of change
of habitat types. The second element of the project will aid the development
of a biodiversity action plan for the Cayman Islands outlining a specific set
of actions that need to be taken to preserve the diversity of life on the Islands.
The third element of the Darwin project will be used to provide public education and outreach.
A website is being set up for the project at
It has also been announced that the National Trust's Blue Iguana Recovery Programme
has won a grant of GB£50,000 for the construction of a shrubland education centre
at the Blue Iguana captive breeding facility.
As part of continuing conservation efforts, Cayman Turtle Farm has sent 20 of
its captive bred farm raised turtles to Sea Life Centres in the UK.
Curator for Marine and Research, Catherine Bell,
explained the turtles on display in the UK and throughout Europe will promote the
"Save Our Seas" programme with the aim to raise 500,000 Euros for the
construction of a Sea Turtle Rescue and Wildlife Information Centre on the
Greek island of Zakynthos. Zakynthos Island hosts 80 per cent of the nests of
Mediterranean loggerhead turtles.
This month also saw
Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts tell members of the Legislative
Assembly there is a plan to develop agri–tourism in the Cayman Islands.
Government plans to make use of facilities at the agricultural pavilion in Lower Valley.
The site could be used to demonstrate Cayman cooking and crafting.
Visitors could learn how to grow cassava or how to care for cattle. There could
be nature programmes about Cayman's wildlife and trees and holiday festivals
could be held on the site. From June, the pavilion will host
'Produce Saturdays' where local farmers will offer fresh produce for sale.
The Legislative Assembly has guaranteed the Cayman Turtle Farm Ltd borrowing of
US$5 million to complete and open its new facilities by June 2006. The extra money
is required because the site development suffered setbacks from two successive
seasons of intense hurricanes, including Hurricane Ivan. Originally scheduled
to open in January 2006, the project has been hit by an increase in the cost
of raw materials, the slow logistical issues of shipment and delivery of
material, and the restricted supply of both skilled and unskilled labour.
By the June completion date the expanded tourist attraction of the 24 acre Boatswain Beach
will feature a 1.3 million gallon snorkel lagoon; a fresh-water themed pool;
a predator tank; an education centre; a free-flight aviary; an iguana
exhibit; tidal pools; 18 independently operated retail kiosks; a historic
Cayman street with local arts and crafts; a number of food and beverage
outlets; a nature trail; and the Turtle Farm. The attraction has expectations of
attracting 495,000 visitors per year (based on one in every four cruise passengers going to the site).
The Turtle Farm has signed agreements with three cruise lines that will offer
the Boatswain Beach project as a package. The farm expects each visitor to
spend an average of US$55.
Cayman's motor sports park is scheduled to open this Easter. At this stage only
a one eighth of a mile drag strip is ready, but it it hoped to extend this to
a quarter mile by August. Businessman Robert Campbell is in discussions with
big names in the world of US motor sports to help develop the 65-acre site with it's
planned 1.2 mile circuit.
Emphasis at the new facility will be on safety and the use of safety gear.
From Easter the track will be open daily, with a small admission fee. It will
be supervised at all times. Cars will be technically inspected and drivers
assessed in their ability to handle cars. Drivers will be expected to wear
appropriate safety gear. It is also expected that drivers that
have a conviction for speeding in Cayman would not be allowed to use the facilities.
For further details contact
So far this year there have been eight fatalities in motor accidents. The police
are stepping up a campaign to deal with speeding which has been a factor in
some of the accidents.
Cayman Airways intends buying Sammy's Airport Inn and will be turned into
administrative offices - the airline currently utilises nine separate
locations since Hurricane Ivan destroyed it old offices on Owen Roberts Drive.
In the interim period until the sale has been completed,
the Liquor Licensing Board agreed that the Inn should have its probation lifted.
This was imposed last year because of patrons dancing on Sundays, which is
against the law in the Cayman Islands.
Tourism statistics for February have been released and are available at
There were 25,004 air arrivals, up nearly 4,000 on January 2006. Even though
this is an improvement, it is still over 6,000 below the pre-Ivan average for February.
There were 180,675 cruise arrivals, down 31,000 on the January 2006 figure, and
also below the February figures for 2005 and 2004. Hotels recorded a 71.9% occupancy
rate - the highest February figure since 2000 and up from 58.7% in January.
Apartments and guest houses reported occupancy rates of 59.7%, up from 43.5% in January.
However, the cruise business hasn't been without it's own problems this month.
240 passengers on board Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas, cruising from
Florida to Mexico, Belize and the Grand Cayman Islands fell violently ill when
the ship was hit by an outbreak of the Norwalk virus.
Fire broke out on Princess Cruises' Star Princess when on the way to Montego Bay
after visiting Grand Cayman. Passengers were called to muster stations
One passenger died from a heart attack and eleven passengers were injured
150 cabins were damaged by the fire. The cause of the fire is not know.
The rest of the cruise was cancelled and
passengers were offered refunds and discounts on their next cruise.
The ship has been taken out of service to mid-May to allow for repairs/refit of the
The Mastic Trail has reopened after the damage caused by Hurricane Ivan.
Announcing the opening of the trail, National Trust General Manager Frank Roulstone said
"The trail is finally open again thanks to hundreds of hours of hard work by a
multi–national crew of volunteers who braved rain, mud, sweat, sunburn and
maiden plum to complete the restoration of the trail".
"An unusually wet season also brought dramatic growth and we were continually
re–clearing areas which had previously been completed. I am just glad to see it
finished so we can move on to other sites in desperate need of attention."
Work has been hampered by prolonged flooding on the southern end of the trail and
falling trees weakened by the Hurricane. The wilderness trail is open in it's entirety
but the southern end is still muddy and slick in low-lying areas. Further work has to be
done on the trail, including numbered signs along the trek and information
signs at either end.
There are no facilities and the public uses the trail at their own risk. The
trail is not suitable for young children and adults should be physically fit
and in good health. Stout footwear, personal water supply, sunscreen and
insect repellent are highly recommended. Pets are not permitted and cell
phones should be turned off while on the trail.
Tourism Minister Hon. Charles Clifford announced that two agencies are
looking for the best location to establish a berthing facility for cruise ships.
However, in his announcement he didn't divulge who the parties were or where they
were looking, but did say that
"the Government is committed to ensuring the better distribution of cruise
visitors which will reduce the congestion in central George Town and on the
West Bay Road and at the same time move some of the economic benefits from
cruise tourism into the Eastern Districts of Bodden Town, East End and North Side".
The Department of Tourism and The Ritz–Carlton recently partnered with Essie Cosmetics Ltd.
to create a brand new line of nail polish shades inspired by the Cayman Islands.
he Cayman Collection includes: Heavenly Sunset – rosy–mauve with glittery
shimmer; My Private Cabana – semi–sheer blush; Need a Vacation – bubble gum pink;
Pink Glove Service – translucent petal pink; Room With a View – sheer shimmery
baby pink; Sandy Beach – translucent toffee with subtle iridescence.
There is also an opportunity to win a five day, four night stay at the Ritz Carlton
with Cayman Airways flights. You can enter the draw through Essie's website at
Low fare carrier Spirit Airlines has started it's daily flights to
Grand Cayman from Fort Lauderdale. The airline has also announced
it has named its newest A319 aircraft "Spirit of Cayman Islands".
Cayman Brac Power are in discussions with a number of US firms to see if a
wind turbine farm is feasible. Although Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC)
concluded a few years ago that there weren't sufficient winds in Grand Cayman
to sustain wind turbine energy, Mr. Tibbetts, General Manager of Cayman Brac Power,
said the company and its investors are confident this will not be a problem for Cayman Brac.
Solar power has also been investigated for the Brac, but it was found that
solar panels almost the size of the entire island would be needed, where as wind power would
only require two turbines. If the feasibility studies are successful, it is
anticipated that the first wind tower will go up by 2008. This could lead to
savings of up to 30% in electricity bills for residents.
Cayman will have a new tourist attraction in the middle of the year with the
planned opening of "Cayman Parrot Jungle". The six–acre site will feature
woodland trails cutting through aviaries, pens and perches next to the Mastic Trail
on Frank Sound Road. The park hopes to home over 100 birds and animals including
macaws, cockatoos, parakeets, sun conyers and African grey parrots.
Plans also include a petting zoo, and part of the site will be set aside as a
traditional Caymanian farm (as if there weren't enough chickens on the island!).
The park is still waiting for final approval from the Department of Agriculture.
The developers are planning to build special concrete shelters to protect the birds and animals during hurricanes.
Future developments on the site include a children's playground and a water park with pools and slides.
Cayman Brac's Parrot Reserve has expanded.
A grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Government funding and help from
the Ministry and Department of Environment (DoE) and the National Trust have enabled
the purchase of a parcel of land that separated the two strips already under the
care of the reserve.
Government is reviewing some of it's fees to raise some of the CI$25 million that
it needs this year. A "revenue register" of 190 fee types now collected by 18
government departments and agencies has been compiled and
sent to private-sector organisations and professional associations,
seeking their ideas on how Government can raise the funds.
As an example, some fees have not changed since 1978:
the annual cost of registration for a veterinary surgeon has stood at CI$40
and annual registration of an animal health assistant is still CI$10.
The shortfall has once again raised speculation about a national lottery.
Remember the case of the Afghan refugees? well one of them,
Nek Nazary started medical school at St Matthew’s University School of Medicine this term.
After the court case that saw him released from prison, Mr Nazary has volunteered
at the Red Cross, designing posters for HIV awareness campaigns and
coordinating volunteers for the disaster preparedness committee. He also
finished high school through home study and was permitted to attend the
University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI).
His future position is still unclear;
he has no assets to obtain a bank loan and his immigration status does not allow him to work.
As an Afghan refugee in Cayman, it may be difficult to obtain a student visa in the post-9/11 environment in the US
so he will probably have to do his clinical studies in Canada.
Sir Michael Jay, the senior Civil Servant in the UK Foreign &
Commonwealth Office, visited Cayman this month. His short visit included meeting
senior police and justice officials, Cabinet members, Members of the Legislative
Assembly, leaders in the business community, and heads of civil society organizations.
He also visited some sites where reconstruction after Hurricane Ivan is taking
place, including Ocean Club and Mariners Cove. Sir Michael promised to urge the
European Union to release relief funds to aid the recovery.
Sir Michael said "One of the lessons we've learned is that there needs to be
greater coordination and a closer partnership between the UK and the Cayman
Islands Government on disaster management".
"The fact that it is the fifth largest financial centre is a tribute to the
people of the Cayman Islands, but that does not absolve us of our
responsibility to provide help to the Cayman Islands in the wake of a disaster such as Hurricane Ivan."
The Governor, H.E. Stuart Jack added "It's much easier to go ahead and press
for that money when you have actually seen on the ground the problems that
still remain and what can be done with the money".
A Cuban refugee, Dr Louis Luarca, staged a 23-day hunger strike, protesting human rights
violations in the Cayman Islands and Cuba. Dr. Lucara claims discrimination against himself
dating back to 1994, that since arriving in the Cayman Islands by boat,
he was not allowed to practice medicine here and has been working as a
security guard with private firms ever since – even though, according to him,
he practiced medicine in Cuba for 10 years prior to his arrival.
Mr McLaughlin, Human Rights Committee Chairman, confirmed that the local
Procedural Subcommittee would continue investigations into the case, to
ascertain where Human Rights regulations in relation to Dr Luarca have been breached.
The seven-year term limit on work permits appears to be causing problems for
The Chief Immigration Officer, Franz Manderson, said that numerous
companies are saying they will be losing 20 percent of their senior staff this
year because of the term limits, which will be detrimental to their businesses.
The Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA), Cayman Contractors Association
as well as other people in the private sector, have all called for
a temporary suspension of the limits until recommended changes to the
Immigration Law are anticipated to be passed in June. Unfortunately it isn't known
what aspects of the legislation are under review as the
Immigration Review Team and Cabinet have not divulged details about the issues
being addressed. Employers fear that by the time the new law is passed it will be too late.
Less than a month after the Mosquito Research and Control Unit's (MRCU) new plane
was delivered, and before it entered service, it has suffered damage.
A blast from a corporate jet's engine that was parking in
the general aviation parking area next to the MRCU's hangar damaged the MRCU aircraft's tail section.
However, because the aircraft was secured to its tie-downs, it stayed more or less in place.
The MRCU are waiting for the manufacturer of the plane to do a full damage assessment,
at which stage the unit will be able to plan when aerial spraying (that had been expected
to resume in April), will actually restart. The Civil Aviation Authority have investigated
and questioned the visiting pilots and will report on it's findings later.
Did you know that there are 35 species of mosquito found in the Cayman Islands?
The latest stamp issue, "Cayman's Cultural Series, Part 1 - Trees" were
made available at the end of the month. The stamps showcase some of the trees
that traditionally were used to support the country's
livelihood but are now threatened by the impact of modern development.
The stamp issue features Wash Wood on the 15 cents stamp, Red Mangrove on the 20 cents,
Ironwood on the 30 cents, Cedar on the 60 cents and Spanish Elm on the $2.00.
Pictures of the stamps are in the press release at
For further details contact the Philatelic Bureau at
Other news items:
Red Sail Sports has reopened it's windsurfing rental business at Morritt's Tortuga.
Specialist DNA analysis equipment has been delivered and installed at the
Cayman Islands Hospital's forensic facility. Some procedures have yet to be
established and accredited, but it is hoped that the laboratory will be able to carry out
testing to aid criminal investigations and prosecutions for the Royal Cayman
Islands Police Service (RCIPS), as well as paternity cases.
Ambuyah Ebanks won the Miss Cayman Islands pageant and will represent Cayman
in the forthcoming Miss Universe and Miss World Pageants.
Tourism statistics for January have been released and are available at
There were 20,163 air arrivals (down from 21,592 in December), but (ignoring
January 2005 when the island was still recovering from Hurricane Ivan), this is
the lowest January figure in the last six years). However, cruise arrivals
were up at 211,678 from 200,434 in December 2005. This was also the highest
cruise arrivals figure for January.
It has been reported that one cruise ship will no longer visit Cayman for the rest
of this season and next season. According to Vice President for Caribbean and Atlantic Shore
Operations at Princess Cruises, Steve Nielsen, the cruise line has decided to bypass
Grand Cayman in favour of Playa del Carmen in Mexico on their boat Grand Princess.
Mr Nielsen cited passenger feedback on the new port in Mexico had been extremely
good and above that on Grand Cayman. Furthermore, passengers preferred the
longer hours spent in Mexican ports than a half-day in Grand Cayman,
which is badly affected by insufficient tenders.
Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas, which can carry 3,600 passengers, will stop
in Cayman on 7th June as part of it's maiden voyage. The Freedom of the Seas is the
world's largest cruise liner (the Queen Mary 2 can only take 2,620 passengers).
According to the 2006-2007 Strategic Policy Statement (SPS) tabled in the Legislative Assembly
at the beginning of the month, the long-term outlook for the economy is good.
The projection is that economic growth will take the Government from a current
CI$10 million operating deficit to a CI$62.8 million operating surplus by June 2016.
Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson explained to the House that the hurricane
recovery expenses are some CI$13 million, and must be considered extraordinary
expenditure. He said the true surplus of Government for the current financial
year would have been CI$3 million, were it not for spending on recovery that eroded the surplus.
The long-term projection is based on an annual revenue growth figure of 2.5%.
The SPS explains that this increase of income to Government is based on
economic expansion in the Cayman Islands and not on new revenue measures. However,
Government operating expenditure is also set to increase by 2% per annum over the same period.
The projection also assumes that Government continues its borrowing at current
rates and terms, present policies that include the existing levels of economic
and social support remain the same, and that there are no external shocks to
the Cayman economy.
The Lands and Survey Department now have a new boat and are to start work on
a new hydrographic survey of the waters around the Cayman Islands. This will help
the department new nautical maps and a hazard-loss model for hurricanes.
"The Aliceann" is named after Registrar of Land Aliceann Kirchman, who has
worked for the department for 34 years. The Lands and Surveys department will
survey Grand Cayman, but have contracted out the surveys of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
The first surveys will be completed by June 2006, the start of the hurricane season.
Senior Geomatician (chartered land surveyor) at Lands and Survey, John Phillips, explained that over
the period they will survey from 300ft beyond the "drop off" around the island
to the shore, take depth readings to show the contours and features of the ocean
floor around the entire island.
Two Caymanians and one American have been found guilty of marine violations after
they were caught in a Replenishment Zone at Frank Sound with more than 100 conch and 11 lobsters.
The trio were each fined CI$1,950.
Back in 1998 Government received a lot of negative international press when
it refused permission for a gay cruise ship to land it's 900 passengers in Cayman.
This month, a cruise dubbed "The Largest Gay Cruise in History II" with over
3,000 passengers was allowed to land on a day when six other ships were visiting.
In allowing the cruise to land, Leader of Government Business the Hon. Kurt Tibbetts
cited the policy of 2001 of non-discrimination to all who seek to visit Cayman.
The government's official press release about this is at
and Leader of Government Business, the Hon. Kurt Tibbetts comments and thoughts on the issue at
On the day their visit passed off peacefully. A small group of protestors
set-up opposite the dock with placards quoting Leviticus 18:22,
"Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination".
The Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) has taken delivery of the first of
the two replacement aircraft that were ordered after Hurricane Ivan. The second
plane is due to be delivered in April, in time for the pre-season larvicide treatment program.
The new plane has yet to be registered and approved by the
Civil Aviation Authority and an air worthiness certificate issued. Crew need to
be trained in the new plane and it's state-of-the art facilities.
The new planes are larger and more powerful than their predecessors (one damaged
beyond repair by Hurricane Ivan, the second damaged when it skidded off the
runway in August 2005). They feature Pratt & Whitney that can
undergo desalination washes to prevent degradation of parts from salt and other contaminants.
The planes also have Wingman flight-track guidance system, the first software
of its kind to be custom-designed for mosquito-control purposes. This was developed
by former Cayman Islands MRCU pilot and software engineer Johnny Falzoi and
incorporates real-time weather information that automatically adjusts the flow
of insecticide dispersed during flight.
Former club members and the former owner of the now-sold Indies Suites
timeshare property have reached a settlement on their dispute.
Ronnie Foster, and owner of Brac Construction Ltd. that developed the Suites
explained "All monies received from both the insurance settlement and from
the sale of the property have now been allocated to every member of Indies Suites in good standing".
Allocated funds will be distributed to the club members after they have returned signed and notarised agreements.
Leader of Government Business, Hon Kurt Tibbetts, announced that a review of the
Immigration Law passed in 2004 was under way to clear anomalies, ambiguities and contradictions.
Revisions are expected to be tabled in April. Some of the issues being addressed
include exemptions created in Business Staffing granted by the previous
Immigration Board that were not in keeping with the law, and the issue of
permanent residency after eight years.
49 people took advantage of the immigration amnesty in December 2005, leaving
the islands without fear of prosecution for overstaying.
The final tourism statistics of 2005 have been released at
There were 21,592 air arrivals in December 1005 - the highest monthly figure in
the year, and almost double the figure for December 2004. Total air arrivals for the
year 167,801, down from 259,929 in 2004, 293,517 in 2003 and a peak high of
354,087 in 2000.
Cruise arrivals for December 2005 were 200,434, up from 176,587 in November 2005 and
191,281 in December 2004. Total for the year 1,798,999, up from 1,693,293 in 2004
but below the peak 1,818,979 in 2003.
Occupancy rates for 2005 were 58.9% for hotels and 46.3% for Apartments/Condos. The
average for the year was 55.8% for hotels (61.7% in 2004) and 46.0% for apartments
(43.1% in 2004).