I believe the dive industry will face serious difficulties in the near future if steps to contain the cost of living in the Cayman Islands are not made.
As a result of the lack of rental properties and the over-priced rental fees, some of our employees decided to leave. In trying to hire new dive instructors I have already faced the stand answer ‘we would love to go and work there but could not afford a place to live.’
Sharing a place used to help. But with the actual prices compared to dive master salaries, six to eight people will be needed to cover rent.
I read not long ago that the average salary in the Cayman Islands is of $3,000 a month. That average is obviously being inflated by a group that makes more than two or three times that amount. Most people I know in this industry don’t make more than $1,600 a month and just make ends meet.
You may say perhaps it is time to increase the salary of those involved in working in the industry. My company has already done that. However, how much higher can the salaries go without having to increase the product price?
Employees deserve a fair pay for their trade and business owners deserve a fair return on their investment. Increasing the prices to cover for the increasing costs will put the island at a disadvantage as there are many places that are already more affordable to go to.
It made me sad to see in the papers headlines that some forecasters pine their hopes for a better tourism season for our islands as a result of the tragedy in the Gulf Coast. We are not out of the woods yet as the hurricane season ends in November and I much rather like to promote our own values as a Caribbean destination instead of toying with somewhere else’s misfortune.
In any case, I see tow situations developing. One, we will have tourists coming during the busy season but we will not have the employees to serve them. Or, we will have the dive instructors paying exorbitant rental and living fees waiting for tourists who prefer to go to another, cheaper dive location.
Unfortunately I do not have the answers to solve the problem. I do know, however, that there are many intelligent people within our community who may be able to find a way to make it easier and beneficial to all.