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News from Cayman - September 2006

Travel & news discussion about the Cayman Islands

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News from Cayman - September 2006

Postby gotocayman » Thu Oct 05, 2006 6:06 pm

A draft of the Immigration Bill has been published for public consultation. A copy of the new bill (53 pages in Adobe PDF format) entitled "A BILL FOR A LAW TO AMEND THE IMMIGRATION LAW (2006 REVISION) TO INTRODUCE NEW CONCEPTS AND TO REDEFINE EXISTING ONES TO WIDEN THE POWERS OF THE CHIEF IMMIGRATION OFFICER TO VARY THE COMPOSITION OF THE BOARDS AND FOR INCIDENTAL AND CONNECTED PURPOSES" can be downloaded from http://www.immigrationlaw.gov.ky/pls/po ... 6-07_0.PDF There is a shorter 12 page explanatory notes paper (also in Adobe PDF format) at http://www.immigrationlaw.gov.ky/pls/po ... ECOVER.PDF Comments should be sent to [email] immigrationlaw@gov.ky by 5pm Cayman time on Friday, 13th October 2006.

Some of the things I noticed looking through the legislation and press reports:

* The Governor now has the power to instruct the Work Permit Board and the Business Staffing Plan Board that expatriates in certain professions are 'key employees' and therefore exempt from the seven-year term limit
* Reducing the time an expat has to off the island before resetting the clock on another period of employment form two years to one year
* Extra powers of the Chief Immigration Officer, the Boards, etc including the ability to revoke a work permit, permanent residence or the right to be Caymanian. Powers to senior immigration officers to impose fines on immigration offences
* Scrapping the rule that people had to be over 55 to be permitted to gain residency as "wealthy retirees", recognising that people are retiring at earlier ages (and with dependents) - now called Residential Certificate for Persons of Independent Means
* Appeals process expanded and redrafted
* Residential Certificate for Entrepreneurs and Investors scrapped
* Changes to the rules on Spouses of Caymanians being able to work
* Should be easier for key workers to apply for permanent residence
* New provisions in relation to persons who have reached the end of their term limit but who are married to another work permit holder, a Government employee, etc
* Employees no longer able to work between the expiry of the temporary work permit and the outcome of the application for an annual work permit
* All firms with more than 15 employees must produce a Business Staffing Plan. Those firms will have any applications for work permits refuse if they haven't completed their Plan within the mandated timeframe
* New offence in relation to unlawful employment
* New provision for dependants of Caymanians to be granted permission to reside in the Islands for a renewable period of up to three years
* New provision for persons who have no right to be in the Islands or who obtained permission to enter by deception to be removed without the need for a deportation order



Divi Resorts have announced that Divi Tiara Beach Resort in Cayman Brac closed on 23rd September. Mark Steward, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Divi Resorts, said "While the decision to close Divi Tiara was a hard one, it was one that will benefit the company in the long run and will allow us to concentrate our efforts on expanding the Divi Resorts brand in Caribbean destinations with greater opportunities for development. Certain economic realities of continuing a dive-oriented resort on Cayman Brac also influenced our decision. Factors included airlift issues, which have affected Divi Tiara's dive guests in particular as they need to bring additional gear for their sport; increased competition from the growing number of niche market dive destinations throughout the Caribbean; and weather which in the past years has pushed up insurance costs." Divi Resorts has eight other properties around the Caribbean in St. Croix, St. Maarten, Barbados, Bonnaire and Aruba.
Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Charles Clifford, said that his department was working with the Department of Employment Relations to address staff concerns over their welfare. The Department was also working dive wholesalers and travel agents who book dive travel to the Sister Islands, and the resort in particular, to support guests who already have reservations, and to ensure that Cayman does not lose business to competing destinations. He also countered the allegation of inadequate airlift provision stating that Cayman Airways Express provides more than 2,950 air seats per month, as opposed to 2,400 seats in 2004, and 1,800 seats in 2002 and 2003, in addition to those provided my the main Cayman Airways Jet service. The average load factor on the Cayman Airways Express service is 72%, so there is spare capacity. Furthermore, he pointed out that Cayman Airways Express regularly adds extra section flights to accommodate groups to the Sister Islands when the airline cannot accommodate groups on the regular schedule. These extra section flights are added at the normal fare rather than charging higher charter rates for the extra sections. In all Cayman Airways Express has the capacity to provide up to 4,850 roundtrip seats per month to the Sister Islands. Air fares have dropped from $156 in 2003 to the current average of $119. The minister also indicated that there were problems with the renewal of licensing of the resort, based on the resort not meeting minimum Hotel Licensing Board standards. "Divi may not fully disclose all or even the real reasons behind its decision to close the Divi Tiara property but one thing is clear. They had not maintained the necessary standards for competitiveness and at times were found dangerously close to being 'unfit' for occupation. This marked lack of commitment to re-investing in the property's refurbishment and upkeep is likely to have impacted the Divi Tiara's guest satisfaction, repeat business and daily room rates."

Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson said a new IT system at the Immigration Department was making it possible for his staff to look at trends in the expatriate population of the islands. He presented an interesting statistics; the average professional expatriate stays in the Cayman Islands only four years, well inside the seven year term limit on work permits. In the post-Ivan year from September 2004 to September 2005 (the busiest period in the department's history), 21,000 temporary work permits had been issued as opposed to only 13,000 between September 2005 and August 2006. The time to process temporary work permits had improved during the last year from three weeks to two to three days.

Infinity Communications and Wave7 Optics announced that construction of a high-capacity FTTP (fibre to the premises) network, which will deliver a "triple play" of Internet, digital television and telephone services throughout the Cayman Islands, is now underway. The network will incorporate the most-advanced fibre optic technology, and is expected to be available to more than 24,000 households on Grand Cayman by the end of 2008.
Infinity will deliver fibre optic services to both residential and commercial customers, specifically corporate and banking firms. Infinity's digital cable television services will include video-on-demand, high definition TV, pay-per-view and advertising programming. Internet data services will include ultra high-speed data internet access with available speeds of up to 1000 megabits per second (Mbs). Enhanced internet data services include website hosting, virtual private networks, video conferencing and interactive gaming. Infinity’s digital voice services will offer both local and international calling capability with unlimited calling plans, providing customers with unprecedented call quality and value.

The Cayman International School moved into it's new building in Camana Bay this month. When the whole complex is completed, it will include a gymnasium, swimming pool, five different playgrounds for children of siffernt age groups, soccer and basketball courts. Director of teh school Gregory A. Hedger said "We take pride in our rigorous academic programme, strong community experience and the fact that every child knows that he or she is cared about unconditionally". Formerly known as the Faulkner Academy before being taken over by International School Services (Cayman) Ltd in 2002, the school will be able to take children from 2 years old to 18. Already the school has increased in student enrolment from about 67 to 220. The school's new US$20 million facilities will offer approximately 57,000 square feet of space spread across the 13.2-acre campus. The school's motto is "Building Character, Knowledge and Service".
The school is seen as a key development in Dart Realty's 300 acre Camana Bay project to develop a new town to the east of the Harquail Bypass. This month also saw some of the first residents to move into the area. The Town Centre, featuring Caribbean-inspired architecture, courtyards, streets and walkways, is scheduled to open in late 2007. There is a new website for the development at http://www.camanabay.com/

The Cayman Islands Investment Bureau has produced some guides on establishing a business in Cayman. Called "Business Roadmaps", the guides trace the steps that an investor or entrepreneur must take from concept to the licensing of a business operation. The first set of roadmaps examines the process involved in three central tourism-related businesses: Tourist Accommodation (available at http://www.investcayman.ky/files/accommodation.pdf), Restaurants ( http://www.investcayman.ky/files/restaurant.pdf) and Water Sports Operations ( http://www.investcayman.ky/files/watersports.pdf).

The new Royal Watler Cruise Terminal has opened.

The National Recovery Fund has done rather well this month. Cabinet Minister Alden McLaughlin announced that $7.1 million in relief funds for the Cayman Islands had been approved by the European Union, with an initial payout of $3.7 million by the end of October. Also the Dart Foundation have donated a further $500,000 fulfilling the pledge made earlier in the year by Arianna Dart when she gave US$500,000 to the NRF. At that time she promised the extra money if the local corporate community matched the first donation by the end of 2006. Vice chairman of the fund, Conor O'Dea said "Despite the fact that Hurricane Ivan happened two years ago, we continue to see so many needy cases that require our help. This tells us that the re-building effort is a crucial continuing effort and we encourage everyone in the community to recognise this through ongoing support of the fund." Fund Executive Director Mark Laskin added "There are some 25 additional new homes that we have approved for rebuilding and this enables us to get going. It means that many more families will soon have better accommodations, which is the essence of our work at the Fund."

The arguments over the proposed dolphin experience continue. In response to the comments by Tourism Minster Charles Clifford that he didn't think such facilities would negatively impact the environment, the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) have issues a statement. In it they point out that Dolphin Discovery operation in Antigua was shut down in December 2004 due to major environmental problems. The statement continues "Never have we ever stated or suggested that we are opposed to these facilities because it would create competition. Our position was that the dive visitor/Eco/Nature/Adventure tourist will not come here due to the country's support of this type of attraction. CITA have documented many countries that have closed dolphinariums due to the negative environmental and/or tourism effect, and banned any further import." "Dolphin attractions are being closed down on a regular basis in other nations; Dolphins in captivity is against our country's goal to create and sustain a destination of 'all things Caymanian'; Dolphin excrement is a real threat to our marine environment, one that could cause irreparable damage to our reefs; Captive dolphin parks will create negative international PR and have the potential for causing eco‚Äďminded, adventure and nature tourists to avoid Cayman." The CITA statement also quotes research from the Global Coral Reef Alliance in Mexico stating "the types of algae found and their spatial distributions, in conjunction with the turbidity and the movement of the water, suggest that there are excessive nutrients, especially phosphorus, that are coming directly from the dolphin cages. These are likely due to a mixture of dolphin excrement and the rotting of uneaten food. Excess nutrients carried by the currents from the dolphin cages appear to be causing serious coral reef overgrowth by weedy algae (eutrophication), especially by cyanobacteria, in the reefs to the south of the Chancanaab dolphin cages."
CITA stated it stands on its research, without fear of competition.
In response, a Dolphin Cove representative said "We have here a body charged with representing the tourism industry at loggerheads with a project that is investing US$10 million." He also challenged the survey that CITA had carried out of it's members earlier in the year as being too small a sample to be significant. At the time, CITA defended itself by saying that the sample size of 61 out of a total membership of about 170 was statistically significant and of those responding to the survey, 74% were opposed to the idea of captive dolphin facilities in the Cayman Islands, 13% were in favour and the remaining 13% were undecided.
The arguments continue.

Next time you are on the roads in Cayman be careful as the police have a new weapon (two actually) - unmarked police cars. These will be used to catch traffic violations including speeding, careless drivers, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You have ben warned!

Representatives from several different radio stations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding after lengthy discussions with the Cayman Music and Entertainment Association (CMEA). Under the agreement, the radio stations agree to play on average at least one record by a local musician an hour. There are exceptions to this agreement; Barefoot Man George Nowak explained that where the music genre of a particular radio station was not well represented by live musicians on Cayman, the radio station would not have to abide by the rule. The first radio stations to sign-up to the agreement include Z99, Rooster 101, Ocean 95.5, Radio Cayman, Gospel 88.7 and Heaven 97.7.

Construction of the 'East-West Arterial', an alternative highway that will evenually link East End and George Town is due to start soon. The first phase of three miles, which is expected to take a year to construct, will go between Savannah's Hirst Road and Prospect's Mangrove Way. When the whole project is completed, it will have two lanes in each direction, but to start with there will only be one lane each way, with the space inbetween for future expansion.

Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville has not opened acress from the cruise ship terminal in George Town. The property has a souvenir shop, seating for 650 people and two bars. An open-air swimming pool with a water slide will open soon.

The Esterly Tibbetts Highway has finally opened - part time! Because of safety fears due to lack of lighting the new road will only be open between 6:00am and 7:00pm with a speed limit of 25 mph. The new road runs from the Galeria roundabout to Raleigh Key near the former Indies Suites.

According to one celebrity news website, British actor Orlando Bloom (Haven, Pirates of the Caribbean) is looking to buy a retreat in Cayman. "I'd love to have a place there. The temperature is beautiful and the people are delightful." After spending some time with local fishermen he added "I didn't know anything about the Cayman Islands and now I know I love life there. Making Haven there was like a working holiday."
Haven, written and directed by Frank E. Flowers, is the first major motion picture shot entirely in the Cayman Islands. The website for the movie is at http://www.havenmovie.com/

Robert
gotocayman
 
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Joined: Sun Dec 11, 2005 4:34 pm

Postby filter14 » Fri Oct 20, 2006 1:28 pm

Thanks again Robert for the information over the years.
filter14
 
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Joined: Fri Dec 16, 2005 11:09 am
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