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News from Cayman - November 2006

Travel & news discussion about the Cayman Islands

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News from Cayman - November 2006

Postby gotocayman » Mon Dec 04, 2006 6:04 pm

The introduction of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) that requires visitors and returning residents entering the US to have passports has been postponed, but only until 23rd January 2007. You can see the latest details at the US Department of State website at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cbpmc/cbpmc_2223.html

Some interesting figures on the level of imports last year have been released.
The total value of goods imported in the Cayman Islands in 2005 amounted to SI$990.4 million (US$1.2 billion), of which nearly three quarters of a billion dollars worth of imports were from the US. The increase in imports is attributed to the reconstruction of the Islands in the aftermath of devastating Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.
Total imports rose by 36.4 per cent over 2004, with a pronounced increase in the importation of building materials and vehicles. In 2003 3,354 vehicles were imported (value $29.8 million). This rose to 5,172 in 2004 ($60 million). Last year this jumped to 8,407 vehicles, valued at just under $100 million.
Cayman's main trading partner continued to be the United States of America, accounting for 76.5 percent or $757.8 million of the Islands' total imports last year. A distant second in overall imports for the year was Netherlands Antilles with 8.6 per cent valued at $85.6 million. The Netherlands was followed by Japan, with $10.5 million or 1.1 per cent; the UK and Jamaica, each with $6.9 million or 0.7 per cent; and Canada with $6.3 million or 0.6 per cent.

Six sharks have died whilst being held in quarantine tanks at Botswain Beach. All fish that are brought to the attraction have to be held in separate quarantine tanks for 30 days before being released into the attraction tanks. In this case there was a problem with the life support system that impacted the water quality. Commenting on the incident, Tourism Minister Charles Clifford said it was to be expected that some fish would die due to natural attrition. What is worrying the anti-dolphin campaigners is his comment "We do expect that some of the dolphins will die at the facility, just as they die in the wild. It will happen".

With stiff competition from other destinations for tourist visitors, Cayman has been trying to improve its service. In September and October, officials of the Department of Tourism and the Cayman Islands Tourism Association have been giving training to over 200 taxi drivers, dispatchers and tour operators in courses entitled "Discover Cayman" and "Standards of Excellence". The taxi and tour operators have now been issued with a uniform and Tourism Minister Hon Charles Clifford said that the staff are expected to wear the uniforms when on duty. Staff in other tourism sectors will also receive frontline training to increase professionalism.

There is more pressure on the Department of Environment to act on controlling Stingray City. At the end of last month, a divemaster was attacked and bitten by an eel at the dive site associated with Stingray City. Members of the dive had been given scraps of squid to feed to the rays and it appears that the eel was after these. At least two dive companies have stopped visiting this location and others have told staff not to feed or touch the eels. In response to these reports, Director of the Department of Environment, Gina Petrie said that amendments being considered to the Marine Conservation Law would prohibit the feeding of stingrays in the area. Under consideration is the creation of "Wildlife Interaction Zones" where the amount and type of food would be controlled as well as who carried out the feeding.

A report titled Economic Impact of Cruise Tourism on the Caribbean Economy was unveiled during the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association Conference held in Cayman at the start of the month. Figures showed that Cayman was fourth for direct cruise tourism expenditure during the 2005-2006 cruise year. The US Virgin Islands led all destinations with $362 million, followed by St. Maarten with $246 million, Cozumel with $214 million, and the Cayman Islands, with $180 million. Cayman was second in the list for numbers of cruise visitors with 1.67 million visitors behind Cozumel which had 1.71 million visitors. On average cruise visitors spend $82.73 in Cayman, ninth in the list with the highest level of income in the US Virgin Islands ($179.69 per passenger). Cruise lines spent an estimated $29.4 million in the Cayman Islands primarily on port fees and taxes. Cayman Islands cruise passengers had an average household income of $100,700.

The start of the month saw a double murder at the East End of the island. According to reports from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, (RCIPS) two men received fatal gun shot wounds in the early hours of Thursday 2 November. The victims were Brenard Dale Scott, aged 36, and Roy Renold Pierson, aged 48, both of East End. It is believed that the victims, brothers, had become involved in a dispute over drugs. A 21 year old has been arrested by the police.

Fortis Inc has acquired an additional four million shares of Caribbean Utilities Company Ltd. for US$48.9 million, bringing its stake in the Cayman power provider to 54 per cent. The Newfoundland company also has holdings in Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Belize and Turks and Caicos Islands.

Red Sail Sports has taken delivery of a fourth catamaran, the Spirit of Calypso. The 65 foot boat was built in the Virgin Islands by Gold Coast Yachts. Features of the catamaran include two pontoons in the back for easy boarding after snorkelling, teak drink tables and an extra spacious interior, additional seating areas throughout with comfortable cushions and a built-in power supply for live music during special sailings. The catamaran will increase capacity for adventurous Stingray City Sails, as well as spectacular Sunset and Dinner Sails. For more details see the Red Sail Sports website at http://www.redsailcayman.com/.

In the New Year it may be possible for cruise passengers and stay-over visitors to make day trip tours to Cayman Brac. Gerry Dilbert, Owner and Operator of Reality Tours is arranging to ship a 27-seat minibus over to the sister islands, and is in talks with Cayman Airways Express. Day trippers will be offered a variety of activities, including diving and snorkelling, cave exploring, hiking, bird watching, as well as visits to points of interest, such as the Brac Museum and the Heritage House. Pricing has yet to be finalised. Mr Dilbert hopes to be offering the day trips on at least five days per week. It was also announced that a technical team from one of the large cruise lines will visit Cayman Brac in December to look at the possibility of having smaller cruise ships, those with 200 - 800 passengers, visit the sister island on a regular basis.

The first phase of the Countryside Shopping Village in Savannah has opened to the public. Foster's Food Fair IGA, A.L. Thompson's Home Depot and Cayman National Bank and the main tenants in the 6.5 acre project. Eleven stores and four offices will open during the Countryside project's first phase, with another 10 businesses to follow with the completion of the second phase scheduled for January 2007.

The Links at Safe Haven isn't expected to reopen until March 2007 at the earliest. The driving range and putting area will open Wednesdays through Sundays for members only, from 1st December. The Links are waiting the results of an insurance appeal which has been lodged in the Jamaican courts. The appeal may be heard sometime in December. If successful US$2.5 million in funds held in escrow will be released. Davey Ebanks, general manager, said $3.5 million had already been spent on the irrigation system and other improvements. However, once the funds are released it will take at least three months to gear up for an opening; golf carts have to be delivered, cart paths constructed and staff hired.

Robert
http://www.gotocayman.com
gotocayman
 
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