Today’s Editorial for May 21: Change needed in George Town

When it opened in 2005, it was
hoped Señor Frogs would be the first step in a renaissance of central George
Town.  The subsequent openings of Margaritaville,
The Royal Watler Cruise Terminal, Al La Kebab and the re-opening of Casanova’s
should have all helped revitalise George Town; but it didn’t. 

Now Señor Frogs has closed
permanently.

Certainly a drop off in cruise ship
calls has hurt the downtown merchants, including the restaurants.  But despite cruise ship calls cancelled by
bad weather this year – a factor cited by Señor Frogs licensee Stefan Baraud
for the restaurant’s failure – cruise visitors are actually up slightly this
year over last year.

The still-hurting economy in the
US, from where most of Cayman’s cruise passengers come, is also probably a
factor.  But according to the
Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, spending is actually up slightly by
cruise ship passengers and up significantly by crew members.

What is really missing is the
support of local residents. But residents just don’t go to George Town at
night.

Part of the problem is the fact
that all the shops close early.  In most
places in the world, shops in the business district stay open a little later, at
least on certain days, helping to drive business to local restaurants and
pubs. 

But the type of shops in George
Town – predominantly duty free stores – aren’t the kind residents visit often.
And frankly, neither was Señor Frogs.

Those businesses that choose to
cater heavily to cruise tourists like Señor Frogs are slaves to cruise calls
and basically exclude themselves from doing a lot of local business.

Some of the restaurants and duty
free stores in town are heavily promoting specials these days aimed specifically
at the local market.

At some point, however, it would be
great to see a renaissance of George Town that went beyond ‘Steak Night’ or
‘Diamond Days’.   With the decentralisation
of the financial industry to places like Camana Bay and Elgin Avenue, central
George Town is going to need to change, or face the prospects of looking like a
ghost town in the not-so-distant future.

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1 COMMENT

  1. I completely agree with your editorial in Friday’s valued newspaper. The early close of businesses in Down Town discourages local residents from visiting this area at night. In addition Down Town is a very unattractive place for retail business with the lack of public parking and the nasty attitudes of those parking operators who clamp your vehicle tyres at 10 O’Clock at night for minor infringements despite those properties not being open for business at that hour. This is extortion! and when the car owners take off the clamps the Police lay charges of theft on the car owner. Not all businesses have done favours in recent times to attract commerce to Down Town fter 5 p.m. And one more thing man, there continues to be too many of the same types of businesses! Cayman would need at least 150K residents to keep all these busineses profitable. The trend of businesses coming and going will continue as has been, over the last 20 years unless moratoriums are placed on what types and numbers of businesses are allowed to operate. I know business people will say this is protectionism but for every business that closes, the owners lose hundreds of thousands of dollars and their employees lives are severly disrupted.

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