It would appear that while the captive dolphin opponents were firing off press releases and letters to the editor the world over proponents were busy behind the scenes getting their ducks in order.
Government acknowledged Thursday that its hands are tied to keep dolphinariums out of the Cayman Islands.
The reason: import permits for bottlenose dolphins have already been granted to the parks from the Department of Agriculture, planning permission for construction has been OK’d and the Water Authority has granted at least one discharge permit.
All that means is that under the past Government the operators of the proposed facilities were given the go-ahead to proceed if they follow all the guidelines.
The Government in power today can’t go back and undo what the previous Government allowed.
While the sitting Government hasn’t taken a stand in the dolphinarium issue, it is expected to soon and Tourism Minister Charles Clifford has said his administration will take into consideration the Cayman Islands Tourism Authority’s stance that no captive dolphin facilities should be allowed.
If this government decides to be anti-captive dolphin, it can draft and approve legislation that would stop future such developments.
In the meantime, it looks as if dolphins will be coming to Grand Cayman, whether they choose to or not.
We have to wonder what this is going to do to the already flagging numbers of stayover visitors.
Too, the Tourism sector of the Cayman Islands has been working hard the past few years to promote eco-tourism. It’s probably a sure bet that ecology-minded tourists will take the Cayman Islands off their lists of favourite destinations.
But as with all attractions, demand will dictate whether supply is sustained.
If tourists coming to the Cayman Islands don’t want to visit a dolphinarium, they won’t. If the ticket sales aren’t there to justify the expense of the parks, they’ll likely fold shop and move on to another destination.
But those destinations are becoming few and far between as countries draft legislation banning either the parks or the importation/exportation of dolphins.
We anxiously wait to see what Government’s stance is going to be on the issue.
But for now, the dolphins are more than likely coming to Cayman.