In the two-year period from November 2009 to November 2011, Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush made some 65 trips to about 30 locations, costing the government about $380,000 for transportation, room, board and other expenses. That averages out to roughly $15,300 per month for 25 months.
According to records provided by the Ministry of Finance, Tourism and Development in response to a Freedom of Information request by the Caymanian Compass, Mr. Bush’s travels have taken him across the globe, to Asia, the Middle East, Europe, North America and Central America, as well as other Caribbean jurisdictions.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Bush’s most frequented destination is Miami, followed by London, Jamaica and New York City. The official purposes of Mr. Bush’s trips include promoting the Cayman Islands’ finance and tourism industries, meeting with United Kingdom representatives, making diplomatic missions and courting overseas investors. In the last case, for example, Mr. Bush visited India in December 2009 to launch a phase of Dr. Devi Shetty’s Narayana Health University.
The Compass’ FOI request also called for information on expenses related to Mr. Bush’s travel to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. No listed costs are associated with the Sister Islands. The FOI request did not encompass costs incurred by any individual other than Mr. Bush.
In regard to George Town cruise berthing proposals, Mr. Bush visited Venice, Italy, in March 2011 to view dam projects by GLF Construction Corporation. He also travelled to Jamaica in June 2011 for meetings with Chinese officials in regard to cruise berthing and visited Jamaica again in September 2011 to meet with China Harbour Engineering Company and to obtain a Chinese visa. Mr. Bush travelled to England in November 2011 to meet in regard to procurement systems, the budget and the proposed cruise pier.
The ministry’s figures are broken out according to the following categories: “airfare”, “subsistence”, and “accommodations/meals/transport”. For the two years, the cost of airfare totalled nearly $115,750; subsistence totalled $29,860; and accommodations/meals/transport totalled $236,680 – for a grand total of just under $382,300.
Mr. Bush racked up the most travel-related expenses in March 2010, when he spent more than $41,000 visiting Cuba (for tourism-related meetings), London (for meetings with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Bahamas (for meetings with Sagicor), Miami (for the SeaTrade event) and Washington, DC (to sign a tax information exchange agreement with Australia). The bulk of the expenses for that month was for accommodations/meals/transport, which totalled nearly $34,400.
According to the information provided by the ministry, in February 2011, Mr. Bush’s expenses actually totalled negative $16,800. During that month, he visited London, Jersey, Miami and Panama, for meetings with various government officials, the general manager of Copa Airlines and the regional manager of the Marriott hotels. In that month, Mr. Bush’s expenses totalled zero on airfare, $600 on subsistence and negative $17,400 on accommodations/meals/transport.
In April 2011, Mr. Bush travelled to London for the royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. During the same month, Mr. Bush also visited Vancouver for the Risk and Insurance Management Society’s annual conference. For the month, Mr. Bush spent $3,100 on travel, including nearly $1,700 on airfare and zero on accommodations/meals/transport.
For two months, August 2010 and January 2011, travel-related expenses appear, but with no listed destinations or purpose. In August 2010, Mr. Bush spent $500, all on airfare. In January 2011, Mr. Bush spent nearly $2,800, including $500 on airfare, $1,400 on subsistence, and $800 on accommodations/meals/transport.