I read with great interest your front page article in the Friday, 12 October, 2012, issue titled, ‘DOT spent $208K on major sponsorships’.
I have known for years that we had lost our way with regard to our tourism business and have expressed this publicly on many occasions, but articles like this is confirmation.
It would appear that if a person has an idea or a passion and can find a way to put a ‘tourism’ label on it public funds will be forthcoming; regardless of the fact that no tourists will attend or benefit.
Let me be clear, this does not apply to all the events mentioned in your article; however, I am sure that readers have the ability to discern real from fiction.
There are so many areas in our tourism product that need improving but time and space will not allow. One area that has obviously not met the “sponsorship criteria” is keeping Cayman’s beaches clean. Because one cannot see the trash from the DOT’s office or it cannot be removed by email or a conference at the Ritz, it’s simply forgotten.
On several occasions recently, I have asked the Governor as well as the former and current deputy governors to allow a few of the low risk prisoners to participate in a continuous programme of keeping the beaches and the roadsides clean throughout this island; yet despite promises, nothing has been done. I guess the trash on our beaches cannot be seen from the new Government Administration Building either.
In 2003 we carried out such a programme on the North Coast of Cayman with several prisoners and it was a great success; community volunteers helped manage, buy the bags, provided a barbecue lunch for the prisoners at the end of the exercise, etc. The prisoners felt that they were making a difference, it was a therapeutic exercise and listening to many of their stories was an eye opening experience for all of us. At the end of the exercise we all won and the beaches were clean. (Imagine what we could have done with $40,000?)
I am attaching a few photos taken at the date of this writing showing a sampling of what the beach looks like in one of the most popular beach/snorkeling spots on the North Coast. This spot is used daily by our visitors because the reef is close to shore, the snorkeling is nice and the area is quiet. In many instances I have seen the visitors (tourists) bring plastic bags and clean the beach themselves. Can you imagine what they must be saying about us – Cayman? Is this the way we keep our beaches- one of the most valuable assets the country possess? What message are we sending our young people? Pride – what is that?
It is past the time when we put the DoT in touch with the visitors and conditions on the ground, instead of working in isolation in an office.
There should be DoT sub-offices in downtown George Town, at the West Bay public beaches, Kaibo beach, Bodden Town and East End etc. It should be mandatory that our regulators be in touch with our customers. This is a business we are attempting to operate and it must be treated as such. A new method of management must be found where incentives and rewards are encouraged and failures are not acceptable.
A current synopsis of our attractions should give us all reason for concern: Our stingray population is dwindling; our Turtle Farm is losing turtles and millions of dollars and now the international community is calling for its closure; our beaches are dirty with trash washed ashore as well as domestic garbage; our waters are becoming more polluted daily; lionfish are having the time of their lives; the greater part of the North Sound is barren, I could go on but I’m sure readers get the point.
Yet something as simple as utilising our prisoners to “keep Cayman clean” we cannot accomplish? Why do we think visitors come to see us in the first place?
Strategic thinking is the bridge that links where we are to where we want to be. It would be so nice to see some of this in action in Cayman.