From GoToCayman.com - the Wiki for Cayman
News from Cayman - 2002
If you would like to receive a quarterly newsletter with the latest news from Cayman, please send an e-mail to mailto:email@example.com
The extension of the Crewe Road bypass to Bobby Thompson Way opened just before Christmas. The new road (Linford Pierson Highway) has been named after the current Minister of Planning, and relieves the pressure on one of the busiest sections of road on the island. It is planned to extend the bypass to Walkers Road in late 2003.
A report "Focus for the Future, a draft tourism policy framework for the Cayman Islands" prepared for the Ministry of Tourism by the firm The Tourism Company (a UK-based consultancy), warns that the Cayman Islands "Cannot isolate themselves from the changes taking place in the outside world and if they cannot deliver what the market wants, those visitors will go elsewhere". The report warns that with changing working patterns with more shift working and contract employment, visitors are looking for flexible holidays that fit their lives, based on their limited time, especially for visitors from the USA where holiday entitlement is lower. Holiday makers are looking for new experiences, and the Caribbean is now in competition with other long-haul holiday destinations, many of which can offer a richer and more diverse holiday experience. Some statistics in the report make for interesting reading. In 2001 tourism arrivals fell for the first time, and it is forecast that full recovery won't be achieved until 2004. Travel and tourism is expected to grow by about 4.5% per year of the next decade. In the Caribbean, tourism arrvials grew by 58% between 1990 and 2000, whilst in this period Cayman's share only increased by 40%. The cruise market increased by 6.5% over the decade, but for Cayman the figure was 12% over the same period. After September 11th 2000, tourism figures fell by 4% over the region. In Cayman, the figure was 5.7%, but in Bermuda they saw a 16% fall in visitor numbers. The reports says that visitors from the USA are expected to increase because of its proximity and quality of diving. The report suggests that Cayman has opportunities in the niche markets. The dive market is already well established, and their is potential in the culture and heritage sectors and nature/eco-tourism. The report concludes that there are short-term difficulties, especially with the risk of escallating tensions in the Middle East. Cayman is facing competition from other Caribbean destinations; notably the Bahamas and Cancun. Higher quality facilities and services are required to keep up/ahead of the competition. "It is down to Cayman to make sure it captures an appropraite share of the volatile tourism market and the relevant niches, over the long tertm, by making some hard decisions now and focusing on maximising value through providing an appropriate product and promoting effectively." "It is essential therefore, in drawing up a strategy, that we look ahead, not just to the problems of the next season but to the changing horizon of tourism over the next five years - and beyond."
December saw another major step in the development of the Ritz/Carlton site. There was traffice chaos along West Bay Road when the new footbridge to link the two parts of the resort was installed. The developers are now saying the project will be completed late in 2003. The month also saw the opening of a new 700,000 gallon seawater breeding pond and 10,000 square feet turtle beach at the Turtle Farm, on the opposite side of the road to the original pond. A small synagogue , Temple Beth Shalom, was dedicated by a visiting Rabbi in mid-December. The temple stands in the grounds of Waltons' Mango Manor in the Stake Bay area of Cayman Brac. Cable & Wireless have started to build a $10million state-of-the-art telecommunications centre, able to withstand earthquakes and category 5 hurricanes.
The Government backed down on proposals to introduce a CI$1,000 per month licence fees for ex-pat fishermen. After public protests, the fees will now be CI$400 per year or CI$150 per month. The proposed fees were intended as a measure to stave off depletion of fish stocks through the catching of under-size fish by some sectors of the community (widely thought to be aimed at Jamaicans and Filipinos who would be unable to afford the new licences).
The Legislative Assembly passed a bill to treat lawyers in the same way as accountants under the Trade and Business Licensing Law. The fees that these firms will have to pay are expected to raise over CI$1 million for government coffers.
The latest batch of employment statistics shows that unemployment on the islands is falling. There are now nearly 29,000 in the labour force, from a population of just over 43,000. The unemployment rate now stands at 5.7% For the full details see http://www.gov.ky/pls/portal30/docs/Folder/SITE83/PRESSRELEASES/200212PRESSRELEASES/LABFORCSURVEY.PDF
Finally some good news for the Marriott. After the placing of reef balls, and some bad weather, sand is starting to appear on their beach! However I have heard that the reef work has meant that on occasions there is a strong under current, so take care!
The Cayman Islands at the British government campaigned unsuccessfully at the latest Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) meeting in the Chilean capital, Santiago, to raise the ban on the trade of green turtle shell products from the Cayman Turtle Farm. Environmentalists lobbying against the move were concerned that any trade would encourage an illicit market that could have a devastating impact on wild turtle populations. There was also some concerns about the farm's high mortality rate, poor water quality, overcrowded pools, and the inability of the Cayman Islands to demonstrate that all of the farm's original green turtle stock was legally sourced.
Cayman Airways has announced that it will start flying to Havana, Cuba from the beginning of December 2002. Flights will depart Cayman on Friday's and Sunday's, with the return leg on the same days. Further details are available from the Cayman Airways website at http://www.caymanairways.com/. Continental Airways are seeking approval to fly from Houston to Grand Cayman. If successful, they will fly on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, starting in May 2003.
The concessions announced last November on stamp duty on land purchases are to be extended another six months, in the hope that these measures will help boost the local economy.
The Monetary Authority has announced that a new CI$50 bill will be introduced next year. The current bill is sometimes confused for the CI$1 bill because of their similar colour scheme. The new bill will have a new colour scheme, but the new design hasn't yet been agreed.
The Chairman of the Immigration Board recently announced that following a review of permanent residency issues, permanent residences will now be allowed to add their dependent spouses to their permanent residency status. For further details see the press release at http://www.gov.ky/pls/portal30/docs/Folder/SITE83/PRESSRELEASES/200211PRESSRELEASES/PERESADSPOU.PDF.
The Chief Veterinary Officer has now sent me details of the rules for importing dogs and cats into the Cayman Islands, including details of the "Pet Passport" scheme. The updated rules are contained in these two Word documents: CONDITIONS GOVERNING THE IMPORTATION OF DOGS AND CATS INTO THE CAYMAN ISLANDS and GUIDELINES FOR TRAVELLING WITH LOCAL PETS AND PETS RESIDENT IN THE CAYMAN ISLANDS FOR AT LEAST SIX MONTHS
The Mosquito Control and Research Unit have reported the first re-appearance of the mosquito Aedes Aegypti Vector since 1996. This mosquito is capable of carrying both Yellow Fever and Dengue Fever. Residents have been advised to remove any items in their yards capable of holding water and acting as breeding grounds for mosquitoes. The MRCU will be carrying out increased aerial and ground sprayings to combat this mosquito for the next few weeks.
Final approval has been given to the regional merger of CIBC West Indies and Barclay's bank. The new bank will be known as the First Caribbean International Bank Limited.
Cayman Airways has added Montego Bay to the destinations it flies to. The Monday morning flight to Kingston Jamaica will now make a stop-over in Montego, with the return flights from Kingston to Grand Cayman on Wednesday's and Friday's also touching down in Montego Bay. Cayman Airways are also sponsoring the celebrations at the end of November 2002 to mark the 50th anniversary of aviation in the islands. The Post Office will be issuing a special set of stamps to mark this occasion.
The Health Service Authority announced plans to cut back staff by 20% at all levels, including senior management, to try to create a more efficient health service and to stem some of the huge financial losses over recent years.
Tourism figure for September have been announced, and show that air arrivals are still down on the same period last year, but cruise ship passenger numbers have increased by almost 4,500 to over 69,000. A full break-down of the figures is available at http://www.caymanislands.ky/statistics/
Special traps set by the Department of the Environment near Stingray City recently caught two tiger sharks - they had been set to catch two hammerheads (of 9 feet and 15 feet that had been seen feeding of the rays). Of the two tiger sharks caught, one of 8 feet and one of 11 feet, the larger one was found to have been pregnant. The authorities are playing this down, saying that the traps were laid deliberately to catch sharks and that tourists are not in danger in any way.
The Cayman Islands Government has announced they intend to introduce a card to speed up Cayman Customs and Immigration clearance. The Caypass Card is aimed at regular business visitors in the financial services sector and professional services, including lawyers and accountants. Application forms are available from the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (http://www.cimoney.com.ky/)
Hurricane Isidore passed through the islands dropping over nine inches of rain on Grand Cayman causing local flooding, but the brunt of the storm hit the sister islands knocking power out and causing minor damage to some buildings. These pictures are from Cayman Brac:
Just as the islands were recovering from this, they were then hit by the tail of Hurricane Lili. Again, the sister islands were hit hardest, with Cayman Brac suffering the worst. Electricity supplies were cut, and some rooves were ripped off properties. All of the rain has led to flooding, with lots of potholes appearing in the road surfaces on all of the islands. However, the Public Works Department can't start repairs until surfaces dry out. Drive with caution! The storms have also hit the Marriott - once again their beach has been washed away. There is apparently a two foot drop from the end of the steps from the patio area directly into the sea. I guess that the hotel will (once again) be arranging to bus guests to the beach at one of the other big hotels.
The planning for the Quincentennial celebrations continue - the web site at http://www.cayman500.ky/ has now been updated to include an online store selling mugs, magnets, photo frames and clothing featuring the logo for the celebrations.
Kareem Streete-Thompson won the Cayman Islands only medal at the Commonwealth Games held in Manchester, England. With a jump of 7.89 metres, he took away a bronze medal (behind Nathan Morgan of England with a jump of 8.02 metres and Gable Garanamotse of Botswana with a jump of 7.91 metres).
The Lighthouse Restaurant at Breakers has had some major reconstruction work. You can now enjoy a meal on the screened oceanfront patio, the brand new deck area set directly over the sea, or in their air-conditioned Chart Room with ocean views.
New stamps celebrating the life of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, were released on August 5th 2002. For further information, contact the Philatelic Bureau on mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tanya Streeter, a former Caymanian resident who was the Governor's Social Secretary, has set a new free diving record. She descended to a depth of 525 feet on just one breath of air. Tanya now holds six world records for free diving in various categories.
The Government has announced that it will provide initial funding to start a project known as "Shipwreck City". The plans for "Shipwreck City" involve the sinking of five ships in the waters around Grand Cayman and Little Cayman, and was the idea of some of the watersports operators. The Tourism Minister is in negotiations with the UK's Ministry of Defense to secure a British war ship with historic connections to the Caribbean as the potential first ship of "Shipwreck City". It is hoped that the first ship will be sunk on the West Side of Grand Cayman, sometime in 2003 - the quincentennial anniversary year of the Cayman Islands.
Tourism figures for July showed a slight rise on the figures for June. Air arrivals were 28,845 (down by about 3,000 on last year's figure) and cruise ship arrivals at 137,742 (up by over 45,000 on last year's figure).
Changes in legislation now mean that the cinema can open on Sunday's, but only to show certificate "G" and "PG" films between 2pm and 9pm. The first showings under the new legislation took place on Sunday 21st July.
A new sports centre, Kings, located near to the Lions Centre east of George Town, has now opened. The centre is open from early morning through to 10:30pm every day of the week. Facilities include a large gym with Cybex equipment, aerobics sessions, two squash courts (CI $15/hour), video games area, table tennis and rock climbing. Roller-skating is on most of the day until about 6pm on weekdays when the arena is given over to soft touch football, roller hockey and basket ball. Admission for skating is CI$5.00 and skates are CI$3.50-CI$4.00 to rent. The centre also has a food and refreshments area, and has private rooms for hire. Facilities to be added soon include a nursery and babysitting service and a massage therapy area. For more information call (345) 945-5464
On 10th July 2002, the Department of Tourism and the Police staged their first road closure day as part of a pilot programme to provide cruise visitors with a more memorable experience while in port. Harbour Drive and a portion of Cardinall Avenue were closed-off to traffic, with an island-style marketplace offering arts, crafts, food and entertainment set up on Cardinall Avenue. A second similar day was run on 24th July 2002. Visitors were surveyed to assess their opinion of such events, and the Department of Tourism is keen to receive further feedback. They can be contacted on phone (345) 244-1252, fax (345) 949-4053 or email mailto:email@example.com.
The Cayman Islands 2001 Annual Report and Official Handbook has been published. It contains a wide range of information including: 626 babies were delivered in the Cayman Islands in 2001, while 133 residents died the economy grew by an estimated 2% in 2001, while the rate of inflation was 1.1 percent At the end of 2001 CI$51.35 million of currency was in circulation The 244-page report also contains a list of chief officers in the Cayman Islands Public Service. The Report is available from Government Information Service, located in Cricket Square, for a cost of CI$40. For more information contact (345) 949-8092.
Another diving death from a visitor to the islands. This time, William Reynolds, a 61 year old visitor from Houston, Texas encountered breathing difficulties when returning to the Little Star dive boat off Cayman Brac. Shortly afterwards, he collapsed. became unconscious and stopped breathing. The boat crew performed CPR, but even with police and medical help at the Faith Hospital, were unable to revive him. Mr Reynolds was on holiday with his wife.
Following the introduction of new government revenue measures, proprietors of timeshare properties must now pay the government US$10 for each day or part of a day for each occupied room if the occupier is the owner, guest of the owner or timeshare or a person who has exchanged his timeshare for that timeshare. In other cases the proprietors will have to pay a tax of 10% of the charges paid. More details can be found in the official press release at http://www.gov.ky/pls/portal30/docs/Folder/SITE83/PRESSRELEASES/200206PRESSRELEASES/TOURACCOMTAX.PDF
The Governorship of the islands changed this month. The outgoing Governor, Mr. Peter Smith, CBE is retiring from the British Diplomatic Service. His replacement will be Mr. Bruce Dinwiddy who has been serving as the British High Commissioner in Dar-es-Salaam.
Cayman Airways Ticket Counter at Tampa International Airport has moved to a new location. It is now located next to Continental Airlines on the ticketing level, on the Blue Side of the main terminal. Cayman Airways uses gates F-88 and F-90 for both departing and arriving flights; and arriving baggage is returned on Belt 5 in the Baggage Claim Area of the Main Terminal Building. Cayman Airways are also in the advanced stages of launching a schedule to fly to Havana, Cuba. Current plans include three weekly flights on Wednesday's, Friday's and Sunday's. It is hoped that the new flights will start in mid-July or early August 2002. The airline is looking at code-sharing with Island Air for it's flights to/from Cayman Brac, including a new schedule from 1st June 2002. For further details see http://www.caymanairways.com/news/newbusinessh.html.
Another death on the waters around Cayman. A West Bay resident went into the water off the Public Beach to retrieve a ball for a group of friends. As this was in the evening, it was some time before his disappearance was noticed. When this was notified to the police, a search was carried out by divers and his body was recovered 40 minutes later. No cause of death has yet been announced.
Disney Magic, the corporation's new cruise ship, made it's first visit to Cayman on 14th May with 2,4000 passengers. The ship will now be visiting the island every fortnight.
The Islands economy is still in a poor state. A report recently published indicated that the unemployment rate could hit the 10% mark.
Next time you visit the islands you will have to complete a new Immigration Form. The new "International Embarkation Disembarkation (ED) Card" contains serial numbers that can be recorded by new passport-reading equipment upon exit and entry. This is designed to reduce human error while speeding up the immigration process and allowing very efficient tourism statistics to be gathered. Some of the sections to be filled in have been revised. For example, the "Purpose of visit" category has been expanded with "Recreation" being subdivided into: Leisure, Dive vacation, Visiting friends and relatives, and Wedding/honeymoon sections. Visitors are no longer required to state their specific job titles.
A 50 year old English resident insurance manager disappeared during a flight to Little Cayman. John Smith was the sole occupant of his Cessna plane on Friday, 24th May travelling from Grand Cayman to Little Cayman. At around 2.50pm he reported experiencing engine trouble and turned back for Grand Cayman, but the plane lost altitude before disappearing from radar screens. The plane went down in 8 foot seas about 15 nautical miles north of East End. Despite extensive air and sea searches no plane, wreckage, or body has been found.
According to William Gray, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University, the climatic ingredients are in place for intense hurricane development. Gray expects the upcoming hurricane season to be busier than an average season, which has 8 to 11 named storms, including 5 to 7 hurricanes. Predictions are for the season to extend well into October 2002, with 12 named storms, 7 of which will develop into hurricanes, 3 of them major. For further information on Dr. Gray's forecast, check out http://tropical.atmos.colostate.edu/forecasts/. For information on hurricane tracking, check some of the links on my FAQ at http://www.gotocayman.com/gcmfaq.htm#WEA
The Cayman Islands Tourism Association has announced their occupancy projections for the second quarter of 2002. Hotel occupancy for April is expected to be at 58%, compared to 66% last year. The figures are bleaker for condos; 29% compared to last years 55%. The average occupancy projection is 55%, a 10% drop from last year's 65%. May's average occupancy projection decreases to 47% and 44% in June compared to last year's figures of 55% and 50%. For further statistics, check out http://www.caymanislands.ky/statistics/
The Bank of Bermuda has announced plans to cut back it's operation in the Cayman Islands, with the loss of 42 jobs.
In August 2001 a special series of Charity stamps were issued. The National Council of Voluntary Organisations (which was featured on one of the stamps) has produced a special cover of 'their' stamp on a specially designed envelope and featuring signatures of both the governor and the artist of the stamp. The limited edition of 200 signed and numbered covers are now on sale at CI$100 - proceeds going to the National Council. If you are interested in purchasing a set let me know!
The Post Office has issued a new set of stamps featuring Snoopy and other characters from the Peanuts cartoon strip.
American Airlines has announced it will commence direct non-stop flights twice weekly from New York’s JFK airport to Grand Cayman on June 15th 2002. The flights will leave JFK on Saturday and Sunday at 09:00, arriving 11:55. The return flight will depart Grand Cayman at 13:00, arriving in New York at 17:34. Cayman Airways have announced that their ticketing desk at Miami Airport has moved to Concourse E near the Information Kiosk and Food Court from Monday 18th March 2002. Flights will continue to depart from the gate on Concourse F.
The Department of Tourism will not be involved in the annual Aviation Week activities in June as they have in previous years. However, the organisers of Cayman Caravan are proceeding with their plans for a June fly-in - see the schedule of events at http://www.caymancaravan.com/
St. Mathews University School of Medicine, has agreed with Government to open a satellite campus, to be located in SafeHaven. The University, which has a main campus in San Pedro - Belize, with a subsidiary campus in Standish - Maine, and two administrative offices in Florida. It has tie-ups with hospitals in the US and in England. Due to open in May 2002, it is expected to have facilities for about 200 students. The main web site for the School of Medicine is at http://www.stmatthews.edu/
The main construction crane at the Ritz-Carlton has now been moved to the beach side of the property, indicating that the project is entering a new phase.
The Cayman Turtle Farm web-site at http://www.turtle.ky/ has undergone a redesign. It includes an FAQ, several WebCams, and news on the redevelopment of the farm.
The Cayman Free Press has increased the cover price of the Caymanian Compass by CI$0.25. The Monday to Thursday issues will now cost CI$0.50, and the Friday edition goes up to CI$0.75. Cayman Net News has announced plans to publish three times a week; on Tuesday's Wednesday's and Thursday's. Bus fares have also increased. The top fare remains at CI$3.50 (George Town to North Side), but some of the shorter rides (eg around George Town), have increased from CI$1.50 to CI$2.00.
Another diving death. This time a female cruise ship passenger, Joan Franklin Smith, aged 66 from Baltimore, encountered problems when diving at 80 feet. This follows on the death of another cruise ship passenger, Ponciano Gazmen, aged 58 from Ontario Canada who died after a snorkeling trip to Stingray City Sandbar at the end of January, and the two deaths already reported in the January news.
American Trans Air has started flying to Grand Cayman. From mid-February to August, they will be flying every Saturday from Chicago's Midway airport.
What do you do when you run out of land to build new properties? Build up! The Minister for Planning revealed that consideration is being given to changing the existing rules. Currently the limit of five stories for hotels will rise(!) to seven floor, and for condos the three floor limit will be increased to five floors. These proposed limits will apply to properties along Seven Mile Beach and other tourism area including East End and North Side. The new limits will also apply to commercial properties in George Town.
The Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) has agreed with the Cayman Islands Government to help fund the redevelopment of the George Town cruise ship port, making funds of up to $10m available. The FCCA has also said it is prepared to assist with the technical assessment on the facility that is being Cruise Ship facility being considered for West Bay.
Construction work on the new Turtle farm has begun. After the damage caused by Hurricane Michelle last year, government gave the go-ahead for the farm to move to the land-side of the property owned by the Turtle farm. Excavations for the main breeding pool has started, and the whole project (including a new visitor centre, the breeding pool, reception buildings and parking area) should be completed by May 2003 at a cost of approximately CI$9m.
The post office has released five stamps and a souvenir sheet to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Accession of HM Queen Elizabeth II. Details can be obtained my e-mailing mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Fees for applying for status or residency have been increased. The application fee for status is CI$250, residency is now CI$100, and the application fee for temporary work permit is now $35, with renewal fees now $35. The fees for work permits for senior staff in professional firms has also increased. For the first five partners, directors or associates (not having Caymanian status), CI$10,000 per work permit; for the next five (ie 6-10), CI$20,000 per permit; for the next five (ie 11-15), CI$30,000 per permit and for the next five (ie 60-20), CI$40,000 per permit, up to a maximum of CI$500,000 per business. There is also a fee of CI$10,000 per year for a permit for a Chief Executive Officer, General Manager or Managing Director. However, the above fees are reduced for any relevant staff working in Cayman Brac or Little Cayman. Fees for dependents of those on work permits increases to CI$250 per year for those on lower grades, and CI$500 per year for those in higher positions. Note that there are also big increases in temporary work-permit fees; these vary from CI$250 for a skilled worker, up to CI$1,000 for someone in a professional or managerial role. As temporary permits are valid only for three months, there is talk that this will discourage business men coming to Cayman for meetings/short term appointments, and will result in more business meetings taking place in Miami. The fees for visas has also increased. For those that require visas, the fee for one entry has risen from CI$30 to CI$75. The fee for two entries has increased from CI$45 to CI$80, and for multiple entries, the fee has gone up from CI$70 to CI$150.
British Airways announced that they will introduce an extra flight on their London-Nassau-Grand Cayman route. From 2nd April 2002, the service will operate on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority will issue new and improved fifty dollar bills this month, replacing the existing blue bills. It is hoped that their new colour (bright green on the front, blue on the back) will make them unlikely to be confused with the blue one dollar bills. The note will also feature a filigree foil stingray.
The body of 31 year old American, Mauricio Solis, was found off the shores of Sunset House. An experienced diver employed by Atlantis submarine, Solis had gone free diving with a full body suit, mask, snorkel and fins. A post mortem concluded that he died by drowning. A 53 year old visitor from Voorheesville, New York drowned off Driftwood when he got into difficulties snorkeling. The area he was swimming in is apparently subject to strong currents under certain conditions.
A new CI$1 stamp has been issued reflecting the Cayman Islands support for the US's fight against terrorism.
Financial sector news: One of the largest financial firms on the islands. UBS, announced that it will close it's private banking operation within the year, transferring the private banking and trust business to the Bahamas.
A new street atlas of the Cayman Islands will be available from the beginning of February 2002. The spiral-bound, full colour, 169-page paperback will sell for CI$29.95. It will have maps of all three islands, with every street and building (as of June 2001) marked - many of the larger buildings are named. Proposed new toad improvement schemes are also indicated. The atlas will also feature a full street index, a general index, a Land Registry maps index, marine and land conservation maps, and mileage chart.