The promotion and implementation of change is a difficult undertaking in any society. In Cayman where diversity is a defining issue of the community, involvement is a key requirement to institute sustainable change.
A lot of this is about the decision making process and the ability to bring diverging interests together.
The Chamber of Commerce has established a Business Development Committee that will be tasked with examining a number of issues, which might affect businesses and the community.
The first issues on the list for the committee are Sunday trading and the Daylight Savings Time, says Chamber CEO Wil Pineau. The Committee will feature members as diverse as merchants and members of the Law Society, which will look at the pros and cons of the issues. This will include the analysis of comparable legislation and practices in other countries. The Business Development Committee will then provide a report on the findings to the Chamber Council and ultimately the government, Pineau says.
In addition the work will also serve to strengthen the effectiveness of the Chamber’s Future of Cayman Forum.
Daylight Savings Time
The adoption of the Daylight Savings Time has been on the agenda for members of the George Town business community for some time and can serve as an example for the effective involvement of various groups in Cayman.
More than one year ago Kevin Doyle and Noel March, who are involved with several businesses in George Town that are heavily dependent on cruise tourism, started to solicit feedback from a range of groups that may be affected by the introduction of Daylight Savings Time.
“It just did not make sense to us,” says Kevin Doyle, referring to the problems the current arrangement causes for businesses and tourists.
In Europe and the US, Daylight Savings Time was primarily introduced to save energy from the additional hour of daylight, but other benefits have transpired over time. In Cayman these benefits would affect tourists and residents alike.
In particular the cruise ships, which observe US Eastern Time, “are coming in at 7am when there is nowhere to go,” Doyle says. It is one of the reasons why the Association for the Advancement of Cruise Tourism, of which Doyle is a director, endorses the introduction of Daylight Savings Time.
In a letter to Doyle and March the Association’s Secretary Emma Graham-Taylor summarised some of the benefits for the cruise sector.
As currently cruise ships maintain their schedules on Eastern Time, they arrive one hour “too early” for local businesses, when many of the shops are not yet open and leave one hour “too early”, resulting in a loss of potential sales revenue for Cayman businesses, she noted.
“It has always been very frustrating to watch the tourists and their dollars, especially in these hard economic times, line up to go back on the ship as early as 1 o’clock because the ship time is one hour ahead,” says March.
“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what effect giving millions of tourists more time to shop/tour etc will have on our local economy.”
As the current one hour difference is confusing for cruise ship tourists, it also means restaurants have to serve lunch an hour earlier than normal while shops may have to open at unusual and irregular hours, throwing up staff scheduling issues for restaurants and retailers, Graham-Taylor wrote.
The additional hour of daylight however would not only benefit retailers and restaurants but also Cayman’s tourist attractions, she noted.
To see what the take of cruise lines would be, if the Cayman Islands observed Daylight Savings Time, Doyle wrote to the Florida –Caribbean Cruise Association. Michele Paige, president of the FCCA, in turn sought guidance from member cruise lines at a FCCA Security/Operations Committee meeting in November 2009 and confirmed that the FCCA Member Lines support the proposal to the Cayman government to adopt DST.
Daylight savings time would make it easier for all visitors to adapt to local time and it would make travel simpler by eliminating discrepancies in arrival/departure schedules with many US airports, wrote Stephen Broadbelt, the chairman of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, in a letter to Noel and March.
“CITA Board Directors have considered the proposal to switch the Cayman Islands onto Daylight Savings Time and in general we are in favour,” he wrote in August 2009.
In addition, “as far as stay over tourism goes, visitors will have more light to enjoy what our Island has to offer,” says March. “Most vacationers don’t wake up at 5am to enjoy the available sunlight,” he adds.
Regenerate downtown George Town
The introduction of Daylight Savings Time would also help with plans to revitalise downtown George Town,” wrote Graham-Taylor, adding that an additional hour of daylight would encourage everybody to spend more time in the centre of George Town.
This is acknowledged by CITA’s Broadbelt, who noted it would “help to improve or stimulate a regeneration of business in downtown George and in the Island’s malls with evening shopping”.
Even the financial services business would be able to benefit from Daylight Savings Time.
“In communicating with the financial services sector I have learned that Daylight Savings Time will create more overlap of hours during the business day with other financial centres such as New York and London, allowing Cayman to be more in sync with these overseas business partners, thus making transactions and communication easier, “ explains March.
Cayman Finance, the association representing the financial services industry in Cayman, agrees.
“The financial services community would immediately see many positive benefits from this decision not the least of which would be to keep us in sync with our large client base in New York City all year long, and to eliminate discrepancies in arrival and departure times from US airports,” said Cayman Finance Director Andrew Johnson in a response to Doyle and March in November 2009.
KPMG’s Managing Partner Rory McTaggart concurs, citing less confusion with travel times to and from the US and maintaining the same time as New York as benefits.
Social and community benefits
In addition, McTaggart noted the effect would be “more social and family time for all because of the extra hour of daylight during the summer months”.
Cayman Finance also believes that there are numerous social and family benefits for all Cayman residents and tourists to enjoy due to the extra hour of daylight during the summer months, according to Johnson, who pointed out that “given that conforming to this globally accepted practice would not incur any monetary or social costs and would in fact provide many positive benefits, we would expect this change in policy to be extremely popular with both residents and visitors”.
“It would enable everyone to have more time to enjoy the outdoors after work, which should improve the general quality of life and enable people to become more involved in a wide variety of outdoor activities which our Islands offer,” said CITA’s Broadbelt.
More outdoor activity in turn could lead to potential health benefits, not least with regard to the increasing obesity problem that has been identified among school children.
The Cayman Heart Foundation, also contacted by Doyle and March, stated the introduction of Daylight Savings Time to the Cayman Islands could actually be a significant contributing factor towards achieving one of its aims, specifically to “improve the health of our country’s children through the promotion of a healthy lifestyle”.
“Daylight Savings Time would actually give us an extra hour of daylight in the evenings, which would enable not only the country’s children to avail of the extra light to play and exercise outdoors but also enable our adults returning from a long day’s work in the confines of an office, to avail of the additional daylight hour and take a walk, go for a swim or participate in some other form of exercise,” the CHF wrote in a letter signed by Chairperson Suzy Soto and Medical Director Dr. Sook Yin.
“We consider that the idea has real merit and could have a positive bearing on the overall health of our nation and the CHF is willing to support this proposal,” they concluded.
The Chamber of Commerce, which has also been contacted by Doyle and March, discussed the proposal to switch to Daylight Savings Time in its Council and reached unanimous consensus in support of the change. “The Council believes the change will benefit retail establishments, financial institutions, tourism sector and all residents who will be able to enjoy an additional hour of daylight,” Pineau wrote to Doyle and March on behalf of the Chamber.
Doyle and March have submitted the collected feedback to government. In meetings with Education Minister Rolston Anglin “we are currently looking for backing on the education side,” says Doyle, who is optimistic and encouraged by the dialogue with government so far.