Those of us who live in the Cayman Islands have long known that the cost of living is ever-increasing.
We see it every time we go to the supermarket to buy groceries, the gas stations to buy petrol, when we open our electrical service bills and when we pay for our water.
The high cost of living here hits us while we are doing just that – living.
Many of us are barely making ends meet, living pay cheque to pay cheque.
We all know it’s expensive to live here, but it’s not just hitting us in the pocket book, high prices are also hurting our tourism product.
Utility and water bills at tourist accommodations have sky rocketed.
Tack onto that increased work permit fees, higher trade and business licence costs and expensive housing costs and it’s easy to see that keeping the tourism product affordable and attractive is difficult at best.
The higher costs of running tourism-related businesses will eventually mean an increase in rates charged to visitors.
We can’t afford to price ourselves out of the tourism market.
It is a big part of our bread and butter – for all of us.
The tourism dollar impacts each and every one of us, no matter where we work or play in the Cayman Islands.
Government is surely aware of the high cost of living. Those who lead us also work and live here and we’re sure they feel the pinch when they fill up the gas tank or pull the electricity bill out of the post box.
But it’s not enough for us to be aware of the higher cost of living in the Cayman Islands.
Those who lead Government and the tourism industry must find a way to stem the costs of living and bring them back down to something that’s affordable.
The answer to the cost of living problem won’t be found over night and it won’t be an easy one to come up with, but something’s got to be done.
If we lose our tourism product because of pricing ourselves out of the Caribbean market we won’t have enough money to live here.
That major source of income will dry up and many of us will find ourselves out of jobs because the tourism dollar won’t be there to subsidize some of our jobs.
We need to start with the high costs of electricity and water.
It was disheartening to learn that we pay US$0.2934 per kilowatt hour of electricity in Cayman while those in Hawaii are paying US$0.2281 per kilowatt hour.
The water story is even more depressing; US$28.56 per 1,000 gallons of water in Cayman while in Hawaii that same amount of H2O costs US$3.53.
Individually we can’t take much more of the high cost of living.
On a tourism product level the high costs have to stop. We’re in danger of losing one of our major industries.