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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.
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
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 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
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. Some photos of the smaller shark caught (click on the picture for a full-size copy):
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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.