CITA: Immigration must be on agenda

Immigration and work permit issues
are affecting businesses on Cayman.

That’s the message from the Cayman
Islands Tourism Association, which voted in a new board of directors at its
Annual General Meeting last week.

Executive Director Trina Christian
explained that the organisation, which works with the Department of Tourism on
marketing the destination and also represents the interests of private sector
businesses, would like to see the debate in the public eye.

“One of the issues in particular
that’s pressing and we could see improvement on is immigration,” she said,
adding that the cost of work permits was one thing that should be
discussed.  “And even to re-evaluate
whether or not the rollover policy is really doing what it’s intended to do, or
perhaps [to] look at whether or not the effects of it are hindering our levels
of customer service.

“At a time when businesses are
challenged, and perhaps there is less demand for the services that we offer, we
don’t need to make it more difficult on ourselves by facing struggles with
immigration and work permit issues,” she said.


Another issue to address, continued
Ms. Christian, is the long-standing debate concerning United States pre-clearance at Owen Roberts
International Airport.

“These are some of the things that
affect the way that we do business and some of the other issues that we need to
work alongside government, to address them over time,” she said.

The tourism association has a new
president, Harry Lalli of Treasure Island. Mr.
Lalli’s broad background and wide range of experience will be an asset to the
organisation, said Ms. Christian.

“Harry has a wide portfolio of the
types of businesses that he’s been involved in. The majority of our members are
small-to-medium sized businesses; he can represent their interests quite well.  The interests of the smaller to medium
businesses are perhaps affected by certain things more directly than the larger
corporations and he’s in tune with that kind of thing.”


Mr. Lalli has been involved with
nightclubs, restaurants, the skate park and wave park, hotels and the Jolly
Roger pirate tours, she said, so his diversity of knowledge would be
beneficial. He will be working alongside new vice-president Dan Szydlowski of
Westin Casuarina.

“Some years we have not had as
active a vice-president as we would like, but he’s definitely eager to push
forward on some of the goals and initiatives that definitely affect destination
marketing and the hotel sector. So that’s good news for us because it’s
important to have an active board and not just an active president,” explained
Ms. Christian.

A new board of directors was voted
in at the AGM featuring new members Frank Fersch of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman
and Stephen Hayes, general/operations manager at Cimboco, Breezes and Chicken

The first meeting of
the board will be on 11 May where the rest of the executive committee will be
formed. Subsequently, a strategy session will be held to reaffirm the tourism
association’s goals and aims for the year ahead and to review the budget.