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The Ritz-Carlton have signed a contract with Greg Norman Golf Course Design for the
design and construction of a nine-hole golf course. It should be completed by
next Autumn, along with the rest of the development. Ritz-Carlton have also signed
an agreement with La Prairie, the Swiss-based skincare and beauty company,
for a full-service luxury spa. The 20,000 square foot spa will feature 17
treatment rooms in an oasis setting designed to de-stress and rejuvenate, and
will offer a comprehensive menu of beauty and relaxation treatments.
One of their subcontractors, TCC Cayman, has pulled out of the project. There have been
reports that some of the Honduran construction workers have been asked to leave their
lodgings and return to their home country.
In other hotel news, The Hyatt has been sold for $40.75 million. It hasn't been
announced who the new owners are, but they are a local company. The hotel opened in
1987 and in under a 20-year management contract to the Hyatt Corporation. When the
Hyatt was last on the market, the asking price was $67 million.
Two other hotels are publicly on the market; 309-room Marriott Beach Resort
and the 278-room Treasure Island Resort, which is operating in receivership.
From 1st January 2004, there are changes in the process for US Nonimmigrant
Visa Applications for Cayman Islands Residents. It will now be necessary to
complete the new Electronic Visa Application Form (EVAF) online for submission
in person or by post. From 1st January 2004 hand-written and typed
applications will no longer be accepted from Cayman Islands residents of any
nationality. With the adoption of the online form, visa processing should
speed up to about two weeks from the current four to six weeks.
For further details see
A number of film stars were on the island this month for the World Premier of
a new film "The Ideal Husband" that is scheduled for release next year. The
thriller stars Tracy Nelson, Michael Riley, Andrea Roth and Michael Calabro
who all attended the gala ceremony. Executive producer Louis A. Massicotte,
brought the premier to Cayman to help raise funds for the Islands's 2004 Olympic team.
Following the premier, a reception was held at the Verandah Restaurant.
Guests of Honour included previous Cayman Olympian's and the 2004 team:
Andrew Mackay, Kareem Streete-Thompson and Cydonie Mothersill.
Government has published it's Annual Report for 2002. For the first time the
report is being published on CD-ROM as well as a printed document. The report is
available from the Government Information Service and costs CI$40 for the printed
report, or CI$15 for the CD-ROM.
The Department of Tourism (DoT) and the Royal Cayman Islands Police (RCIP) announced that a
portion of Harbour Drive would be closed from 8:15 am to 4:15pm during the
peak cruise-ship season for the safety of tourists (up to 10,000 cruise
passengers arriving!) and residents starting on Monday 15th December.
The road would be closed between Goring Avenue and Fort Street. This measure was introduced
at very short notice, and caused mayhem and confusion down-town. Even some of
the tourist busses and vans had problems getting to the docks to pick up cruise
ship passengers. The situation was made worse then the following day the ban was
revoked, but then re-introduced on the third day! Some West Bay businesses complained
that they had no trade on the days of the road closures, and that is the
situation continues, it could force them to close. The Cayman Islands Chamber
of Commerce joined the protest campaign and after a meeting between the RCIP,
Chamber of Commerce, DoT, Public Works Department (PWD) and the Port Improvement
and Beautification Committee managed to halt the road closure, as it was having
an adverse effect on residents, overnight-stay tourists and businesses. To manage
the situation, the RCIP will have six officers to control traffic at pedestrian
crossings. The PWD will investigate measures to control pedestrians (extra crossings,
railings to stop pedestrians crossing at uncontrolled points), and work on
a publicity campaign with the DoT to encourage residents and visitors to use
other routes to minimise traffic along Harbour Drive during peak cruise ship hours.
Red Sail Sports continues it's work with the Association Of Handicapped Divers (IAHD),
with three instructors completing the Instructor Crossover Course. The course shows
instructors how to deal with a wide range of disabilities in the water and the
best ways to deal with entry and exits. Children from the Lighthouse School
attended to give the instructors hands-on experience with dealing with the disabled.
Red Sail Sports are looking at developing a program so that Lighthouse School
students continue to benefit from the pool/water therapy sessions.
There will be a new watersport attraction in Cayman in the New Year. Celebrity
Cruises are bringing in an extreme 80-foot racing yacht, the former "Lodka Sport"
now renamed the "Celebrity Cruise". It will give visitors the opportunity to 'race'
to Seven Mile Beach against a similar boat for "Royal Carribean" cruise visitors.
The 3.5 hour trip will cost $105 per person, and will take up
to 20 guests. Bookings are through the Celebrity Cruise website at
One of the Cayman Islands's top law firms, Boxall's, is to merge with
Guernsey-based Ogier & Le Masurier. The merger represents the first trans-atlantic merger
of offshore firms, and will take effect from 1st February 2004 to create one of
the world’s largest offshore practices, with more than 370
lawyers and staff. The Channel Islands practice will continue to operate as
Ogier & Le Masurier, but the Cayman business will be known as Ogier & Boxalls.
Ironshore Corporate Services Limited, Boxall's administration services ancillary,
will become Ogier Fiduciary Services (Cayman) Limited.
For more details see
Enron's bankruptcy examiner, Harrison J. Goldin, has criticised the company's
auditors KPMG and PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) for turning a blind eye to problems at Enron
in relation to two deals that the auditors helped set up in Cayman.
LJM Cayman LP and LJM2 Co-Investment LP were set-up by
Andrew Fastow, Enron's former chief financial officer, to distort Enron's financial
statements. Goldin criticised KPMG for their audits of LJM and that they knew Fastow
had benefitted and had "provided substantial assistance to Mr. Fastow
in his breaches of his fiduciary duty to Enron". Goldin also concluded that PWC
"committed professional malpractice and was grossly negligent" that lead to Enron
sustaining "significant monetary damages". It isn't clear how much involvement
there was from the Cayman Island's offices of the two firms criticised.
Cayman has also been in the news over what is being dubbed the European Enron scandal.
Italian food and dairy giant Parmalat admitted a document showing 3.95 billion euros
($4.91 billion) held by Bonlat Financing Corp, a Parmalat unit in the Cayman
Islands, had been declared false by the Bank of America. Pamalat are also under
investigation for their investment of $600m in Epicurnum, a mutual fund
registered in the Cayman Islands. Parmalat is facing bankruptcy in the US and in Italy
Parmalat is Italy's eighth-largest industrial group and had revenues of 7.6 billion euros last
year from selling juice, milk and biscuits in 30 countries from South America
to Asia. Parmalat had a market capitalisation of 1.8 billion euros before the
crisis broke, but since then their share price tumbled before being suspended,
and their bonds are worth a quarter of their face value. The company's founder,
Calisto Tanzi, and two chief financial officers are under investigation.
Samuel Bulgin, Cayman's Attorney General, said he would ask the police to
investigate the dealings in Cayman. The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority,
the tax haven's financial regulator, which oversees about 4,000 mutual funds,
said Epicurum was not registered, and therefore not monitored, because it had
less than 15 investors.
The ninth annual Parade of Lights took place in the Harbour at the beginning
of the month. The event was sponsored by Cayman27, the Cayman Islands Tourism
Association and the Department of Tourism, with fireworks provided by
CIBC Bank and Trust Company. Seven boats took part, with Sunset Divers
winning the first prize of CI$2,000 with their boat the Manta bedecked with a
16ft moray eel, Christmas tree and animated Santa Sleigh pulled by dolphins
(there are some pictures of the winning boat at
Divetech came second, winning CI$1,000 for their boat their Ata Tude
decorated as "Candy Land", and Red Sail Sport's Coral Spirit took the third
prize of CI$500 for their "Christmas is for Children" theme.
A working party established by the Department of the Environment (DOE) is
planning to submit proposals to cabinet to protect the welfare of stingrays at
Stingray City and Stingray Sandbar.
With about 5,000 visitors visiting daily, the rays have changed significantly from
those 'in the wild'. Wild rays are solitary creatures, rarely seen in schools, and
tend to forage for food in the evenings and have a distinct breeding season. The
rays at Stingray City and Stingray Sandbar are fed almost continuously, and breed
all year round. No details of the proposals have bee published, but they are
expected to be wide ranging, with possible new legislation early in the New Year.
All spawning areas for Groupers have been closed for fishing for a period of eight years, in
a move aimed at preserving stocks for future generations. Some areas of the
Caribbean have already seen the Grouper disappear because of over-fishing.
Grouper take eight years to reach maturity.
Following the announcement by the US Department of Agriculture of a possible case
of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), the Cayman Islands Department of
Agriculture has placed a temporary ban on the importation of live cattle, goats and
sheep and any bone-in meat or processed meat products from these animals from
the US. However, fresh (chilled or frozen) boneless meat from these animals
will still be allowed.
Another round of granting of status! This time almost 400 people have been granted
status by the Cabinet, bringing the total for the year to almost 2,900. The
Immigration Board have made grant to another 300 people. Together with a quota of
nearly 700 grants under consideration under the new immigration rules that come into force
in January 2004, this will bring the figure to nearly 4,000. On top of this,
allowing an average of 1.5 dependents per successful applicant, the true figure
may be closer to 10,000.
There have been protests that some of the people on the Cabinet list no longer live in Cayman,
or have only been on the island for a couple of years and that some of the
grants smack of nepotism and political gerrymandering.
The list includes three judges and the recently appointed Attorney General.
The immigration bill and granting of status could be one of the major issues
in the elections in 2004.
A new park was opened in George Town just before Christmas. The Neals Godfrey
Park, located on Eastern Avenue, Greenwood Drive, next to the Power of Faith Church
features a volleyball pit, a half court for basketball, play area and picnic tables.
Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC) and the Cayman Islands Government have
reached an agreement on the price rise imposed in August 2003. CUC have agreed
to reduce their basic electricity rates by three percent from 1st November 2003.
The Government has agreed to cancel it's proposed legal action against CUC.
Both parties are entering negotiations on some of the differences, including
the duration of CUC's exclusive licence (due to expire in January 2011) and the
rate-setting mechanism. They have set a deadline of mid-December 2003 for the
completion of these talks.
A virus outbreak on Cable & Wireless' servers in Barbados meant that many
businesses were without e-mail access for a couple of days at the start of the
month. Cable & Wireless (Cayman) have now moved the e-mail service back
onto there servers in Cayman.
This has come at a bad time for C&W. The sector has just opened up to
competition, and under the deregulation timetable and agreement, C&W's
internet prices have increased.
However, Cable & Wireless have launched the Hiptop® in Cayman, a
a wireless all-in-one device that combines a fully featured mobile phone with
a variety of applications, including an HTML Web browser, an embedded
email account, AOL Instant Messenger, a personal organiser, games , etc. -
viewable on a colour display with full QWERTY keyboard.
Cable & Wireless is the first operator to launch a GSM/GPRS network in
The first of the new Telecomms providers have fallen by the wayside. CayTel has
decided not to pursue it's plans to provide services in Cayman, as it felt
the size of the market in Cayman couldn't support the number of licences granted.
Grand Tel Ltd, (who were in partnership with US-based CellularOne) have also
decided not to continue with their license application.
Northwest Airlines ( http://www.nwa.com)
have announced a new seasonal daily service between Detroit and Grand Cayman. The
service will start on 12th February 2004 and end on 3rd April 2004.
Cayman Airways have taken delivery of the Boeing 737-300 that will be used
on the Chicago route. The airline has promotional fares on the new route
from $319 return for travel from 17th December 2003 to 11th February 2004, but
these must be booked by 15th December 2003.
For further details see
The national airline is also
launching a twice-daily service to Little Cayman via Cayman Brac on 17th
December 2003 using a newly-leased 19-seat Twin Otter (De Havilland DHC-6-300) prop plane.
One-way fares are US$75, and one-day round-trip tickets cost US$90.
Cayman will feature in a major film next year. Shooting of
'Haven', a crime drama staring Orlando Bloom, Gabriel Byrne and Bill Paxton,
has started in Cayman.
Renowned local artist Gladwyn K Bush, otherwise known as "Miss Lassie", died on
Monday 24th November 2003 at her South Sound home. She war born in 1914, and
only took up painting at the age of 62 after a spiritual experience. Her
"markings" were inspired by her dreams and are mostly biblical based.
She was awarded an Member of the British Empire (MBE), and earlier this year was
honoured with a Lifetime Achievements Award by the Quincentennial Committee.
There is some more information about "Miss Lassie" at
and some samples of her work at
There is a description by Holly Winter who met "Miss Lassie" in June 2003 at
The much publicised Aqua Wedding Ceremony didn't turn out to be quite as popular
as the organisers had hoped for. Promoted by the Department of Tourism as part
of Cayman's Quincentennial celebrations, only 18 couples donned their wedding and
dive gear to take part. With laminated copies of the marriage vows, and underwater
slates on which to write, the ceremony was lead by Reverend Lawrence, with his
words being relayed to those underwater through a sophisticated stereo system.
After champagne, the participants returned to the Hyatt for the official
ceremony, as under Caymanian law, the wedding vows have to be uttered to the
A minor fire at the main hospital was put out by the installed sprinkler system,
thus saving much greater damage. The fire was started by a patient in the
mental health unit, and did about $500 worth of damage to mattresses and bedding.
The Fire Service's Fire Prevention Officer is acclaiming the success of the
sprinkler (which cost about $30), and which saved the hospital potentially millions
The date for Cayman's General Election next year has been leaked as being
scheduled for November 17th 2004. It isn't clear if the election will be based on
the existing district constituencies, or on single-member constituencies. It had
been broadly expected that the election system would move towards a single-member
constituency, but the leading United Democratic Party (UDP) now seem to be
back pedalling and wanting to maintain the existing scheme for most of the
island, but implement the single-member constituencies in the George Town area only.
The United Kingdom has reiterated its position that the Cayman Islands
should comply with the European Union's (EU) Directive on Taxation of Savings. In
a letter from the UK's Paymaster General, Dawn Primarolo, to the Leader of
Government Business, Hon McKeeva Bush, Ms Primarolo warned that the UK may use
it's powers to legislate directly for the Cayman Islands.
The EU Directive would mean that all EU citizens would be liable to taxes on
interest earned in accounts held in other EU countries. If Cayman is forced to
comply with the directive, it will mean either having to exchange information
with EU member states on their resident's interest income for tax purposes, or
a temporary withholding tax until implementing information exchange.
In May 2003 the European Court of Justice (ECJ) Court of First Instance ruled that
EU could not impose an obligation on Cayman to implement the proposed
Directive. In addition, the court ruled that the UK was not legally required
as a full member of the EU to impose the directive on the Cayman Islands, but
the question of whether the UK could constitutionally impose the
Directive on the Cayman Islands via an Order In Council was something that
depended on the legal arrangements between the UK and the Islands, and was
outside the ECJ's remit.
The Leader of Government Business, Hon McKeeva Bush, said that the Cayman
Islands Government "will not support anything that will destroy our financial
services industry". Cayman would also expect to be recompensed for any lost of business
as a consequence of implementing the directive. Further discussions are due
to take place between Mr Bush, the Financial Secretary, Hon George McCarthy,
and the Paymaster General in December 2003. The Islands are threatening
further legal action as Bermuda has escaped the EU net because it was omitted
by accident from a list of Crown dependencies!
The Government's plans to build a new tendering dock for cruise ships in West
Bay is meeting with some opposition. The planned pier to be constructed at
the start of North West Point Road is to be part-funded by the Florida Caribbean
Cruise Association (FCCA) (see News for
August 2003). An anonymous source told Cayman
Net News that none of the landowners in the area where the dock is to be built
are in favour of the project, or want to give up their land. They are also
angry that there has been no information from Government. It may be that the
Government would have to compulsory purchase order the required land.
A new public park has been officially opened in North Side. The Jarold Smith Park
(named after the 90-year old resident who previously owned the land) is
located in Hutland, across from Chisholm market. It has been developed as part
of the Government's "Growing Communities" initiative, with backing from the Dart
Once again the current discount on stamp duty has been extended,
this time to 11th January 2004. The rates are 5% for stamp duty and 50% discount
for infrastructure and building permit fees.
The saga of the three Afghans continues. According to Radio Cayman,
the men are seeking damages for being illegally detained in Northward prison
between August 2000 and May 2001, and again for almost a month after 11th September 2001.
The Cayman Islands Government has established a new Bureau to encourage
inwards investment into the Cayman Islands. The Cayman Islands Investment Bureau
is located in the Cayman Corporate Centre in Hospital Road.
Satellite offices have been established in London and New York. The Bureau
will also help local businesses by making recommendations to Cabinet on how to
streamline processes and reduce bureaucracy.
The National Trust for the Cayman Islands
is seeking sponsorship for new born Blue Iguanas from it's Blue Iguana Recovery
Program. This year has seen 17 hatchings of the endangered reptile at the Botannic
Gardens. US$600 will sponsor one animal for a year. Sponsors will receive
sponsorship packages and regular newsletters about the progress of their iguana.
The tourism arrival statistics for October 2003 have been released at
Stay-over visitors were up at 18,879 from 11,336 in September 2003. This is almost
3,000 below the figure for October 2000, but is up on the same period in 2001 and 2002.
The occupancy levels for hotels was 42.7% (up from 33% in September 2003), and for
apartments/condos etc was 24.4% (up from 14.1%). To put this in context, pre 9/11
typical hotel occupancy rates for October were averaging 57% and for apartments/condos the
equivalent figure was just under 30%. October's increase is not unexpected as
it takes into account the extra visitors attracted by Pirate's Week.
Cruise ship arrivals continue to rise - 159,589. This is a 40% increase on September 2003.
This is also the highest October cruise ship arrivals figure since the new
method of calculating the statistics was launched in 2000.
Finally, for the philatelists among you, a little pamphlet on "The History of
the Cayman Islands Post Offices" has been privately published, in a strictly
limited edition. Not only does it feature the history from the 1890's to the
present day of the buildings/locations used, but also
the individuals who held positions as Post Master/Mistress or Postal Agents.
The booklet is interspersed with reproductions of Cayman Island stamps and
franking marks. It is available directly from the publisher, Ivan Burgess.
For more details contact him at
In common with many other airports, security procedures are being tightened at
all of Cayman's airports. Checked-in bags will now be X-rayed, and to avoid
inconvenience and delay, the Civil Aviation Authority are advising passengers
to remove all batteries from any checked-in items and carry the batteries in their hand luggage.
United Airlines has announced plans to fly directly from Chicago to Grand Cayman.
The weekly Saturday service will run from 20th December 2003 until 24th April 2004.
Cayman Airways has announced their winter schedule, which will run from
26th October 2003 to 27th January 2004. Changes include:
Chicago: Twice weekly non-stop service begins on 17 December.
Ft. Lauderdale: Additional flights on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday afternoon.
Havana: The addition of a Wednesday midday flight.
Tampa: A daily service Thursday to Monday.
Kingston: The addition of Thursday and Saturday flights during the winter peak period.
Montego Bay: An additional Tuesday flight.
Cayman Brac: Five round trip flights a week. The re-introduction of an
overnight Wednesday evening flight from Grand Cayman to Cayman Brac with the
return to Grand Cayman on Thursday morning.
For further details, check out their web site at
You know the warnings about not smoking when on board a flight? One passenger
from the States ignored the warning and was caught. The pilot of a Cayman Airways
flight on the way to Grand Cayman smelled the cigarette smoke, and when he sent
a flight attendant to investigate, Kenneth Carroll, 50, emerged from the toilet
in a cloud of smoke. He was arrested on arrival, and pleaded guilty in court.
He was fined US$937 and ordered to pay his court costs.
The Caribbean Tourism Association, representing 34 countries in the region, is
considering a proposal to charge a US$20 tax on each cruise passenger making
port calls. In response, the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association
(representing the major cruise companies) has called the proposals "outrageous".
The long-running saga of the three Afghan asylum seekers may finally have been
resolved. The have been granted 'limited leave' to stay, but the Chief Immigration
Officer still has powers to review their situation should the position in
Afghanistan change. However, the Attorney General has lodged an appeal against
the Immigration Appeals' Tribunal on the grounds that they mis-interpreted the
1951 UN Refugee Convention that the Tribunal based it's 'limited leave' decision.
WestStar TV, one of the companies recently granted a licence by the
Information, Communications and Technology Agency (ICTA), has announced plans
to offer an Internet Service from 1st November 2003, and a local telephone
service in 2004.
AT&T Wireless have also now received their licence to
provide mobile voice and data services from 1st February 2004. AT&T will be
installing GPRS Edge Mobile Technology, allowing for mobile roaming from the US
and 100 countries around the world.
Digicel have also started to recruit and will be offering mobile, fixed wireless
and internet services, which are due to start early next year.
The Police are testing a new scheme to improve traffic flows along West Bay Road
during the evening rush hour. From 16:30 to around 19:00, traffic travelling
south towards George Town is being diverted off by the Galeria Plaza
roundabout onto the Harquail Extension. Traffic travelling north from West Bay
Road and the Harquail bypass will now have two traffic lanes, merging into a
single lane by the roundabout at Galeria Plaza. There will be no north entry
onto the Harquail extension. Extra police are on duty to direct traffic.
Outside rush-hour times, normal traffic flows will be allowed, with the
centre lane on West Bay Road utilised for turning only. The effectiveness of the
scheme has yet to be assessed.
If you are thinking of visiting George Town on 16th December 2003 - don't! A record
eight cruise ships with over 20,000 cruise ship passengers are scheduled to visit on that day!
The latest tourism figures for September have been released. Over 113,000 cruise
passengers visited the islands last month - up 63% on the same time last year. Stay-over
arrivals were three more than the same time last year at over 11,000.
With pressure on President Bush to revoke the travel ban on American's to Cuba,
Caribbean tourism destinations are worried that Cuba may attract visitors away
from the Cayman Islands and other traditional holiday spots for US tourists.
Cuba as a travel destination would be attractive to many Americans as the
flight times would be shorter, has a wider variety of attractions and better value
for money. The Cayman Islands Tourism Authority are already in discussion with
Cuban tourism associations to try to establish a multi-destination tourism
Scientist from University of Michigan Medical School have discovered two
mutations in a gene called ATCAY that may explain the neurological disorder
known as Cayman ataxia, found nowhere else in the world. This inherited
condition leaves sufferers with poor muscle coordination, uncontrollable head and
eye movements, difficulty in speaking and walking and some mental retardation.
Scientist have known that the condition originated from one of the early
settlers to the island. Scientist from the University of Iowa managed to
narrow the search to a region of between 50 and 100 genes on one chromosome.
Now, after comparing genes in 'jittery' mice showing similar neurological
problems, the two mutating genes have been identified.
Work is now being carried out my structural biologist to try to understand the
associated amino acids, enabling the development of ways to prevent or
treat the disorder.
For further details see
A draft of the new Immigration Bill has been issued. One of the major changes
will be that residents will have to have been on the island for 8 years
before they can apply for Permanent Residency. After a further year they will
be able to apply for Naturalisation, and once that has been completed,
they can then apply for Status. However, work permits will only tend to be
renewed to a limit of seven years, unless your employer decides that you are
indispensable and your loss would seriously harm the company or Cayman.
This month Government announced that 540 grants of Caymanian Status were made
"to mark the Islands' Quincentennial Year". They have also directed the Immigration Board
to make Status grants to those that have worked in the country for the past 20 years.
This will bring the number of grants of Status to approximately 2,500 applicants
over the last two months last month, on top of which 200 more applicants are
expected to be approved under the current 10-year residency rule, and 110
applicants under the Naturalisation rules.
Allowing for dependents, over 5,000 new citizens will have been granted this year.
The whole issue of Status has been a major talking point on the islands over the
last few months. There have been rumours that Status has been conferred on
some individuals who have overstayed. With so many new citizens, there are concerns
that the nature, character, heritage and traditions of the island will be lost or
taken over by this large influx of new cultures.
Details of the proposed Immigration Bill can be found on the Government web site at
Did you know that the Cayman Islands has the second-highest rate of prison population,
only beaten by the USA? For the full list of the top 100 countries with the
highest prison population rates, see the web details posted on the web site of
the International Centre for Prison Studies at
I can't get the figures to tally. The population of Cayman is currently under
40,000 and the latest (2001) Government Year Book says the prison can
accommodate about 250 (but only had 228 inmates), so at worst this would give
Cayman a 'score' of 625, putting them in third place behind the US and Russian
The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) and Royal Cayman Islands Police (RCIP)
have warned that counterfeit Cayman Islands currency is in circulation. The
forged CI$25, CI$50 and CI$100 notes do not have the turtle watermark or the
I guess that the news a few months ago that the Marriott had been sold was an early
indication of the state of the overnight tourism sector. This month Treasure
Island has gone into receivership, owing the Cayman Island's Government in excess of CI$1m
in tourist taxes. The receiver hopes to keep the hotel running whilst it is put
up for sale. There was also an announcement that the Hyatt was up for sale.
Against all this, the Ritz-Carlton has announced plans to develop a marina.
CUC's exclusive license is now under the spot-light. Following a recent 3% hike
in their prices, Government is intending to bring forward legislation to open
up the sector to competition.
Nine telecommunications licences have been granted by Government, ending Cable
& Wireless' monopoly. The new licencees are:
Irish Digicel, AT&T Wireless, Cellular One, CaymanTel, Aviation Communications,
Blue Sky, GrandTel, Weststar TV and TeleCayman.
TeleCayman has said that it expects
the cost of long-distance calls to drop by 50% once they have access to the Maya-1
AT&T Wireless has started preliminary work to bring advanced voice and data
networking to Cayman, including providing roaming services for visitors from the
US and Europe.
The US Department of Homeland Security has postponed the deadline for the introduction of
machine-readable passports for visitors to the US to enter under the Visa Waiver
scheme. From the new date of 26th October 2004, all visitors to the US must either
have a passport with a machine-readable strip, or a visa.
Cayman Airways have finalised plans for their Chicago service. The new twice-weekly
service on Wednesdays and Sundays will start on December 17th 2003.
The latest tourism arrivals figures have been published for July and are available
Both air and cruise passengers showed a slight increase over the figures for June,
but air arrivals are over 9% down on July 2002, and cruise passengers are over
4% down on the same period last year.
Road widening works by Grand Harbour have completed, with two lanes now
travelling eastwards as far as Marina Drive. It is expected that the road widening
will improve traffic flows, especially in the evening rush hour.
Unfortunately crime appears to be on the increase. There have been a string of
thefts from cars, where rocks or bricks have been used to smash windows to
steal valuable s left on car seats. There have also been a number of armed
robberies at restaurants,bars and businesses including Cable & Wireless.
Seven of the robberies have been committed by team of two suspects,
with two committed by a single suspect.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have signed contracts for the expansion of the
Gerrard-Smith International Airport Terminal in Cayman Brac. The plans are to expand
the arrivals hall with a larger back age reclaim area on the ground floor, with
office space on the upper level. The building work is expected to be completed
in time for Christmas 2003.
Cayman Airways has been given permission to acquire another Boeing 737. The new
jet will be used on their new planned non-stop route to Chicago, starting in
December. The airline is also considering new routes to New York, Boston,
Baltimore, Cincinnati and Los Angeles. The new jet may also have a first or
business class section.
The Cayman Islands Port Authority has signed an agreement with the Florida
Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA). The agreement will provide a US$26m loan,
repayable by the FCCA over 15 years, for the development of new cruise ship
facilities in George Town. Construction is expected to last about nine months
and due to commence in September 2003. There is still talk about developing
cruise ship facilities in West Bay.
Cayman could be in for a rough hurricane season. The
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) updated outlook for the
current Atlantic hurricane season indicates a 35% chance of a normal-activity season,
5% chance of below-normal and a 60% chance of above-normal activity. Based on this,
they are predicting 12-15 tropical storms, with 7-9 becoming hurricanes, and
3-4 becoming major hurricanes. Based on past above-normal hurricane seasons,
it is likely that these hurricanes could pose a threat to the United States
and/or the Caribbean Islands.
For full details of the press release, see
Renowned Hurricane Forecaster, Dr. William Gray, and his team at Colorado State
University have predicted above average activity for October, traditionally the
most dangerous month for hurricanes for Cayman. They will by updating their predictions at
July was a fairly quiet month for news!
The latest arrival statistics have been issued, and show that June was a
better month than May, but still down on previous years. Air arrivals
accounted for over 24,000 visitors (just under 10% lower than June 2002), and
cruise ship arrivals were over 116,000 (down 4% on 2002). Occupancy levels for
hotels were 49.5%, and apartments were 37.3%. Full details can be found at
As part of the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector, 14 firms have
letters of intent to the Information, Communications and Technology Agency (ICTA),
the body responsible for regulating the industry. Formal applications for
licences have to be lodged by 10th August. The firms that have publicly submitted
their letters include AT&T Wireless, CaymanTel and Digicel.
The ICTA is now responsible for the .ky domain after the US Department of
Commerce officially transferred the administration of the domain to them. This
follows an administrative and legal wrangle that has lasted about five years.
Cayman-born Tanya Streeter has taken her ninth world record in the sport of
freediving. This time she reached a depth of 400feet (122 Metres) in the
"variable ballast" category, descending on a sled and then surfacing
using fins only. The following day she set a new record of diving 115 feet
(35 metres) without fins in a new category of "constant weight without fins".
Tanya currently holds five world records in freediving - diving to depths with
only one breath of air.
To celebrate Cayman Airways 35th Anniversary on 7th August, the airline is running
another sale with reductions of 35%. Be quick though, as the sale ends on
7th August! For more details see
A number of counterfeit US$100 bank notes have been reported to the police.
The forgeries carry the serial number CB12654556B and have no metal strip and
A committee examining beach erosion along Seven Mile Beach has released an interim
report. The committee has considered "engineered beach stabilisation structures"
but has decided that there is no scientifically proven system. They have proposed
"beach nourishment". In this, sand will be mechanically placed in position.
Further studies are planned to make recommendations on suitable sand sources,
transportation and distribution of the sand, as it is likely that these exercises
will not be one-off events, but part of a planned program. Currently it is not
envisaged that sand retention devices (groins, breakwaters, etc) will be utilised
along Seven Mile Beach. There are also recommendations that the building line
allowed should be based on the historic vegetation line, rather than the high-water
mark, which can vary enormously from one year to the next.
The Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) has warned that continuing erosion
along the southern end of Seven Mile Beach is hitting occupancy rates. CITA said
that as potential visitors hear about the lack of beach, they are choosing to book
with other properties or other destinations. Condo owners who purchased their
properties as investments and for short-term rentals are starting to consider
There has been wide coverage in the press on the prospect of the
Cayman Islands introducing a lottery. A National Lottery Review committee
has already been established, but there is a strong campaign against the
introduction of a lottery by the churches. Many argue that there is already
illegal gambling on the island in the form of numbers and the many raffles that
are run by fundraising organisations. The money raised would be focused on education
and other good causes. Others point out that bringing gambling
to the islands will bring down the wrath of God, with Cayman at risk of
hurricanes, and a possible tsunami should a heavy earthquake occur.
My view is that if the islands allow a lottery, they will find if very hard not
to allow casinos. West Bay Road already looks like a Florida strip, who wants
it to turn into a mini Las Vegas?
An analysis of spending by visitors to the islands conducted by Deloitte &
Touche makes interesting reading. Of the estimated US$530m earned from tourism
in 2001, 86% of the total was attributable to stay-over visitors, spending an
average of US$214 a day. Cruise ship passengers represented 14% or earnings,
spending about US$88 per day.
Maritime Trails have been established on Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands
to highlight sites of significance in Cayman's maritime history. Each stop on
the driving tour is indicated with new Maritime Heritage Trail sings. On Grand
Cayman, nineteen locations have been identified, ranging from Rum Point,
Pull-and-be-damned Point, Pedro St. James and Wreck of the Ten Sails, to Hog
Sty Bay and Old West Bay Historic Anchorage.
Cayman Merchants Association (CMA) are calling for a change in the Customs Duty
Laws. They want to see tariffs on consumer goods increased by
between 25 and 30 percent, except for those imported by licensed businesses.
Currently, individuals pay the same level of duty as businesses, but businesses
have their business expenses to pay including licence fees, energy costs,
staff health insurance, property insurance and garbage fees, many of which have
increased my between 20 and 180 percent in recent years. The CMA believes that
a two-tiered duty system would help the local economy by making it less attractive
for residents to import their own goods. The CMA has the general backing of the
Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce, who last year called for a change to the
CI$350 duty-free allowance for returning local residents.
Cayman Airways has announced that it has filed with the Civil Aviation Authority
and the US and Jamaican governments to cut its overall fare structure by an
average of 30 percent. As approvals are automatic, tickets at the new rates are
now on sale. The fare reductions follow on from a series of seat sales, and
it is hoped that the reductions will boost visitor numbers to the islands as
the new rates may be more affordable.
Government and Cable & Wireless (C&W) have agreed a timetable for the
liberalisation of the telecommunications sector.
10th July 2003
Main agreement signed Domestic line competition permitted
1st November 2003
Competitive Internet Service Providers (ISPs) permitted
Cable & Wireless local calling rates changed to
CI$0.09 for the
first minute and $0.02 for subsequent minutes for voice calls
CI$0.05 per minute for calls to ISPs
1st December 2003
C&W reduce its existing International
Direct Dial rates by an average of 40%
Business line rentals change to CI$30 per month
Business customers take ownership of their line and become responsible for internal wiring
1st January 2004
Residential line rentals change to CI$9 per month
C&W introduces a Light User Scheme
Residential customers take ownership of their line and become responsible for internal wiring
1st February 2004
Domestic mobile competition permitted
1st April 2004
International competition permitted
Residential line rental rates increase to CI$12 per month
The Dart family will be submitting a planning application for the first
phase of their West Indian Club by the end of the year. The 240 acre development
site stretches from Seven Mile Beach to North Sound. The first phase, Waterfront
Village, will include shops, restaurants, offices, residential apartments and
entertainment and will be located to the east of the northern extension of the
Harquail bypass - now you know why the road is already landscaped!
Cayman is trying to establish itself as the region's centre for handicapped divers.
As part of an initiative between Red Sail Sports and the International
Association for Handicapped Divers (IAHD), with sponsorship from
Sunset House, the Bank of Butterfield, CUC, the Hyatt and the Department of
Tourism, a course was
recently held to teach dive instructors how to train people with
multiple disabilities. Unlike previous failed initiatives, this time an
on-island pro-trainer (able to train other dive masters) has been appointed to
continue the training of other dive masters. IAHD intends to make annual visits to
Cayman to update the pro-trainer on the latest techniques and developments.
It is expected that this initiative will make the islands more attractive to
stay-over disabled visitors, and will also help the local handicapped
community with new leisure opportunities.
Cayman continues it's tough stance on drugs. Jeffrey Copley was sailing his boat
from Trinidad to Texas when he encountered problems with the engine. As he was
passing by the islands he sought permission to land to purchase transmission fluid.
Having anchored, he borrowed a kayak from a neighbouring boat to land and then
went to visit Immigration, who let him do his shopping. When he returned to
Immigration, he was sent to Customs, where they informed him they wanted to
search his boat. When asked if he had any drugs he replied in the negative. A
drug dog discovered a cigarette butt that lead to the discovery of 31 grams
(just over an ounce) of ganja. Even though the magistrate accepted that the
drugs were for his personal use, under the Misuse of Drugs Act Copley was
found guilty of importation of drugs, and therefore his vessel (valued at
about US200,000) was forfitted. Copley was also fined CI$1,500.
There appear to be a number of schemes in the offing for a "Swim with the Dolphins"
experience in Cayman, even though there are petitions against any captive
Dolphin programme being established in Cayman. One firm has already submitted
a planning application, but the one with most publicity "The Living Sea Ltd" has
been giving details of their scheme. They claim to have spent CI$500,000 locally
on feasibility studies, water analysis, buying property, and drafting plans.
Their nine acre plot is located just north of Morgan's Harbour and has both sea
and canal frontage. They haven't yet submitted any plans, as they are keen to
make sure that they can answer any questions they may be asked by the authorities.
They are currently giving consideration to issues such as water depth and
quality, and even evacuation plans in the event of a hurricane.
The Living Sea has been working with the Roatan Institute for Marine Services
based in Honduras, which already has a dolphin attraction. The full development
cost of the project is in the range $10m to $15m.
The Legislative Assembly has approved the budget for the fiscal year 2003/2004
starting on 1st July. The budget is for an expected government spend of C
I$303.6m, whilst earning CI$309.4m, thereby giving a projected surplus of
CI$5.7m. Inflation is currently running at 2.4%, with this expected to rise to
2.8% during the year. The growth forecast for the economy is expected to grow
to 2.3%, up from 1.2% in 2001/2002 and 0.6% in 2000/2001.
Other bits and pieces:
All of the airports in Cayman are now no smoking zones
It you are visiting Cayman via the US, note that from October 2003, your
passport must be machine to be able to enter the US under the visa-waiver scheme.
Note that children will no longer be allowed to enter when they are listed on
an adult's passport - they will need to have their own passport.
For more details, check out
The highlight of the month were the some of the Quinncentennial celebrations.
Prince Edward unveiled a monument to the teachers, doctors and activists who
have contributed to the island's history over the last 500 years, and was also
present for the first Seafarer's Festival. The regatta featured sailboats of all
sizes from tiny dinghies to racing yachts and multi-hulled boats.
The Executive Council approved $30m funding for further improvements to the
Turtle Farm. The next phase of the redevelopment due to start in July and
finish in 2004 will relocate the rest of the current facilities to the new site
across the road. To make the site more attractive, the new facility will
include tropical landscaping, an aviary, a snack bar, an improved gift shop,
as well as an Education Pavilion featuring computer terminals with interactive
The Turtle Farm Managing Director, Kenneth Hydes said the new pavilion
"... will contain everything from basic information to scientific studies."
Phase Three will also feature a revamping of the turtle husbandry facilities,
including a new hatchery, wet and dry labs, and holding tanks with better water flow.
Future development plans include expanding the Turtle Farm into a marine theme park,
including a snorkel lagoon, stingray tank, a shark/predator tank as well as a river ride where
visitors will use inner tubes to ride through a fast flowing water channel.
"Blue Hole", a cave system on the site, will also be enhanced/featured in the attraction.
Continental Airlines launched their new route from Houston to Grand
Cayman. Flights will be on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
The Marriott has now been sold. Previously owned by the current owners of
the Westin and the Holiday Inn, part of the reason for the sale was the
low occupancy rates and severe beach erosion. Cayman Islands Hotel, which
is owned by the LaSalle Bank (the forage mortgage holder) has given the management
contract to PCI Managment Ltd. Willy Giger, General Manager of the Marriott,
said that the resort would hour existing commitments and was committed to
expanding the services to guests under the Marriott franchise.
For the philatelists among you, a new set of stamps has been issued. These
feature children's games of old played in Cayman. The 15-cent stamp features
skipping and the 20-cent stamp depicts maypole dancing. The 25-cent stamp shows
a gig, a peg top spun by winding cord around the top and throwing it. Hopscotch
is featured on the 30-cent stamp. The CI$1 stamp features marbles.
The issue of stamps appears to have sparked interest in some of these older games.
Gigs are the latest school fad, but the toy shops have run out of these tops,
so if you are visiting the island to see friends with young children you could
win lots of young friends by taking some with you!
Are you engaged and wanting to get married under water? To coincide with the
quincentennial celebrations, the Cayman Islands Tourist board are trying to find
500 couples to get married or renew their wedding vows in the largest
underwater ceremony (thereby gaining entry into the Guiness Book of Records).
For further details see
From the beginning of the month the Holiday Inn has started to offer an
all-inclusive package. The package will include all meals and drinks with the
exception of premium brand spirits, as well as non-motorized water sports activities.
More news about the Afghan refugees that have been held on Grand Cayman since
August 2000. Part of the problem has been that the Cayman Islands didn't have
any legislation to cover the case of those seeking political asylum. New rules
that will cover the procedures, appeals etc, have now been approved.
Acting Attorney General Sam Bulgin added that one of the reasons for
the delay in processing their application was the lack of information about how
they arrived on the island and their true identity. A date to consider their
appeal is expected soon.
With the continuing fears about SARS, a Public Health Department official
will be at Owen Roberts airport to assist immigration staff when any Air
Canada flights from Toronto arrive. So far the islands have are SARS free.
Planning permission for the construction of a marine research institute on
Little Cayman to be run by The Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) has
been given. Ground breaking is due to start on 10th May 2003. No final date has
yet to be set as many of the tenders have still to be finalised and issued. CCMI
hope to make use of local contractors for the project.
The Turtle Farm has come up with a new logo to coincide with it's 35th
Anniversary, but for some strange reason it doesn't yet feature on it's web site!
Created by Tower Marketing and Eyewaves Design, the colours are meant to
represent the beautiful skies and clear waters of the Cayman Islands.
The tourism industry has taken another knock with the war.
Staff at the Marriott Beach Resort have recently had their weekly working
hours as much as 25%. Speculation is building that more drastic measures are
on the cards the the low (summer) season. The hotel has experienced severe
beach erosion and a significant reduction in occupancy over the past year.
King Carl XVI Gustaf, the King of Sweden, visited Grand Cayman towards the end
of the month in his capacity as honorary president of the World Scout Foundation.
His visit was part of the 46th World Baden Powell Fellowship Event and was
hosted by the Cayman Islands Scouting Association.
Construction work has started on the expansion of the George Town library. When
completed it will triple the current library's space.
After much pressure, the British-appointed Attorney General, David Ballantyne,
has resigned, having agreed a GBP230,000 (Approx US$330,000) pay-of. His position
became untenable after the collapse of the Euro Bank trial, when it was discovered
that Mr Ballantyne endorsed to use of "agents of the UK government". Politicians
and law officers had refused to work with Ballantyne following the disclosure
of his involvement in the case.
Plans have been announced for the construction of a pier and loading facilities for
cruise ships in the West Bay area. With estimated costs of between $5m and $8m,
construction could start later this year, with a target completion date of the
end of 2004. The new dock will be located near the start of the road leading
to the Turtle Farm.
Even though the project will include a 700' finger pier, cruise ships will
still have to tender passengers to shore as the water isn't deep enough to allow
ships with a draught of 50' to 60' to dock.
There is a new tourist attraction on Grand Cayman. The recently opened Butterfly
Farm, located across the road from the Marquee Cinema Complex, has over 50
different species from all around the world.
The Hon. Roy Bodden, Minister for Education Human Resources and Culture, has
announced final details of the proposed new Employment Law. Highlights of the
the Civil Service will now be included in the scope of the 2003 Employment Law
all employees will be entitled to written contracts
maternity and paternity benefits increased
the establishment of a Minimum Wage Advisory Committee
pay statements to include employer details, name and payroll number of the
employee, gross earnings for the period, all deductions and reasons for
deductions, net pay after deductions and dates for which pay is tendered to
be given to all employees at each pay date
extended powers for the Employment Tribunal to handle any employment-related complaint
The Green Paper for the new Employment Law is expected to be released next month.
The fall-out of the Euro Bank trial continues!
A full transcript of the Chief Justices ruling is now available at
The Cayman Islands Government
believe that the UK should pay the trial costs (currently estimated at ($25m - $30m).
A motion of no confidence in the Attorney General was passed in the Legislative
Assembly, though the Attorney General cannot be constitutionally removed by
The AG issued a statement on the 14th February to defend his
Baroness Amos, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister with
Responsibility for the Overseas Territories, visited the island for a day.
Topics discussed included the ending of the Euro Bank trial and the relationship
between the Cayman Islands and UK Governments. She said that she thought the
British government was "not at all" responsible for the collapse of the Euro
Bank trial. When questioned about the Attorney General she also said
"I think we have agreed on a way forward", but refused to give further details.
Following her visit,
the Leader of Government Business, the Honourable McKeeva Bush , has demanded
that Brian Gibbs, (thought to be in hiding in the UK), should be extradited
back to the islands and stand trial for his actions. Mr Bush said "A great
wrong has been committed in this country. We have called on Mr Gibbs to be
extradited to the Cayman Islands and for him to stand trial for the crimes
committed against these islands."
Baroness Amos also delivered copies of the draft Cayman Islands constitution for
Cayman Airways has announced that it will start flying to Fort Lauderdale
International airport from April 6th. The non-stop flights will be in the morning
on the Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, with the Saturday flight
departing in the afternoon. Cayman Airways is offering an introductory price
of $169 round trip for travel originating in the month of April. See
for more details.
The Marriott are claiming a success with the "Reef Balls" placed before Christmas.
They now have about 30 feet of beach - a vast improvement as before the work
started the hotel had no beach at all!
Cydonie Mothersill of the Cayman Islands has been doing well in some athletic
indoor championships in Europe, taking third place in the women's 60m race at
Lievin, France, and taking first place in the women's 200m
at the Norwich Union indoor meet in Birmingham, England.
The main news item of the month has to be the collapse of the Euro Bank trial.
On 14th January, the Chief Justice, Mr. Anthony Smellie, instructed the jury to
return "Not guilty" verdicts against and all four defendants – bankers Donald
Stewart, Brian Cunha, Ivan Burges and Judith Donegan – of all charges. This
followed after the Attorney General, Mr. David Ballantyne, had indicated that
no more evidence brought in the case.
The trial followed a three-year investigation into the collapse of the Euro Bank
Corporation, which was suspected of laundering money for organised crime in the US.
The defendants, all former bank employees, were alleged to have aided a
Californian conman who staged at £15m credit card fraud.
The trial started in June last year, in a purpose-built computerised court room
costing nearly CI$300,000. Much of the last month of the trial had been held
"in camera" (without the jury present) whilst legal arguments were presented.
The judge became worried that his telephone was being bugged, although he had
no evidence to back this up.
Brian Gibbs, a former Scotland Yard detective, and director of the Cayman Island's
Financial Reporting Unit (FRU) since 1990, was responsible for preparing much of the
evidence for court. During the trial, it emerged that Gibbs had sent some
documentation to London to MI6 (the UK equivalent of the CIA). He had
been one of theer agents since 1991, reporting suspicious transactions to them
for a salary of £1,000 per month. When the defence requested to see some
of the documents that Gibbs had sent to London, MI6 blocked the
request (without the judge's knowledge). This decision was endorsed by David
Ballantyne, and it was agreed after a meeting between Balante, Gibbs and MI6
that any material released would be made to look as if it had been in the FRU's
files all along.
During the trial a witness, Edward Warwick, made some comments about
meetings/conversations he had had with Gibbs. The upshot was that the
Chief Justice ordered Gibbs to make a statement. Gibbs was then cross examined
by the defence attorneys, and four statements and several days later the
"truth" slowly emerged.
Gibb's London controller discovered that the Cayman Islands police were going
to search Gibb's home to investigate Smellie's bugging allegations and
ordered Gibbs to destroy any paper work he may have had that would reveal his
During the trial a witness, Edward Warwick, made some comments about
meetings/conversations he had had with Gibbs. The upshot was that the
Chief Justice ordered Gibbs to make a statement. Gibbs was then cross examined
by the defence attorneys, and four statements and several days later the
"truth" slowly emerged.
The Chief Justice made his ruling in a 47-page report in which he said Gibbs
"deliberately failed to disclose and destroyed evidence which he knew to be
highly relevant to the trial."
The director of the FRU has now resigned and left the islands because, as the
Governor Mr. Bruce Dinwiddy explained, "because of a potential risk to his personal safety".
This has lead to the Leader of Government Business, McKeeva Bush, to retort
"the statement that Mr. Gibbs' personal safety was ever at risk in the Cayman
Islands is completely untrue in addition to being unwarranted and highly
irresponsible in respect of the reputation of this country."
There are calls for the Attorney General to
be sacked, and for an investigation into the way FRU and Attorney General's
offices are run. The Cayman Islands government was ordered to pay the court
costs of the defendants, so far totalling over CI$2.3m.
The four defendants are now enjoying their freedom. For the last three-and-a-half years
they have been banned from leaving the island, going any where near the airport
(even to meet friends), or even take a boat ride. Even a tennis tournament that
took place during the downpour (see below) didn't dampen the spirits of the defendants
and supporters during the celebrations!
Continental Airlines has announced that it plans to start flights from
it's Houston hub to Grand Cayman on 2nd May 2003. There will be four flight a
week, on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Cayman has had a very wet January, with over nine inches of rain falling in one
six-hour spell, leading to widespread flooding and damage to homes and property. As this
happened out of the hurricane season, there were no long-term advanced warnings
and so there was little preparation for the bad weather.