Turtle Farm lost nearly $8M in 2011

Company steadily paying off debt

The net loss for the Cayman Turtle Farm during government’s 2010/11 financial year was slightly more than $7.9 million, according to statements made public in the Legislative Assembly last week.  

The total loss was nearly $400,000 less than the one reported by the Cayman Islands government for the tourism facility during the previous 2009/10 financial year. However, financial statements also indicated that the company’s net operating loss rose by nearly $600,000 for the year.  

There were a couple of bright spots for the facility noted in the report as well, Tourism Minister Cline Glidden Jr. told the legislature on Thursday.  

First, Mr. Glidden said the tourism attraction located in West Bay saw a significant uptick in earnings, with an overall increase in revenues 
of 5 per cent.  

“Tour revenues increased 10 per cent [during the 2010/11 financial year] despite the decline in cruise tourism,” Mr. Glidden said. “Turtle meat sales increased 13 per cent.”  

In addition, the facility’s bond debts shrank to $26.3 million and its long term bank loan amounts dropped to $8.7 million; a total decrease 
of $3.9 million.  

Of the $9.8 million government provided to the Turtle Farm operation during 2010/11, $6.1 million was applied to loan payments, $300,000 to capital projects and $3.4 million to fund operating losses.  

The 2010/11 year was also the first full year of Managing Director Tim Adam’s stewardship of the Cayman Turtle Farm. Mr. Adam spoke openly about the farm’s financial difficulties to Cayman Free Press in November.  

The farm, which was taken over by the local government in 1983, gets about 230,000 visitors per year. It is the most popular land-based attraction for Cayman Islands tourists and the second most popular spot to visit for all tourists, next to Stingray City in the North Sound.  

However, to just break even, Mr. Adam estimates the facility would have to draw twice that number – 460,000 people – about one-quarter of Cayman’s current yearly total visitors, counting both cruise ship and stay-over tourist numbers.  

That number is not likely to be reached unless Grand Cayman can install a new cruise ship berthing facility in George Town and/or a berthing facility at the West Bay Public Beach. When the Turtle Farm was expanded in the early part of last decade, the business model called for the construction of a cruise dock at the public beach. “In the current scenario, where we don’t have a cruise dock … we have to bear in mind that about 70 per cent of our revenues come from the cruise business,” Mr. Adam said.  

According to unaudited budget records, the Cayman Turtle Farm had a net operating deficit for the 2011/12 financial year of $7.4 million. For the current 2012/13 year, that deficit is projected at nearly $8.1 million. The figures given for the 2010/11 are the audited actual numbers.  

Financial records show the overall net loss figures for the Turtle Farm have dropped from about $13 million in 2007/08 to about $8 million in 2010/11.  

Personnel costs for the farm operation have dropped by about $1.8 million in the last two years, mainly due to the layoff of 20 staff members at the facility in mid-2010. 

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14 COMMENTS

  1. Am I the only one who thinks that this is a level of financial lunacy that is beyond comprehension. Subsidizing this financial Black Hole is about as logical as the stewards on the Titanic re-arranging the deck chairs after she had hit the iceberg.

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  2. Hey everyone… I have an idea… lets spend 8 million dollars so people can eat an endangered species that the rest of the modern world has outlawed killing!

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  3. kostrowa – Obviously the 8m losses did not come about because turtles are being raised for meat. In the 1990s, before it was turned into Boatswain’s Beach and when it had many more turtles, the farm turned a small profit each year.

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  4. Given the current economy this loss maker should be closed down. Why not release all the turtles (if that can be done safely and without endangering the free turtles), sell off the property for a private venture/outdoor theme park/pool etc and stop trying to make it work as a turtle farm. I have the greatest respect for Mr Adam but even he can’t perform miracles.

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  5. No, I was just about to make that same comment, eventhough I normally do not comment on items such as this. It actually comes down to a gross average of CI 5,000.00 per month per person based on about 18 months post lay-offs. I would like to see the job discriptions that makes this amount of money. Assuming everybody else makes at least the same amount, except Tim of course, it comes at no surprise they are bankrupt at the expense of the animals.

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  6. If the turtle farm is running us into debt, I would suggest get rid of it. However if it is not, then I would say find a solution to the problem.

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  7. Animal liberator/Northside Sue,
    Reread the article and recheck those calculators, its for 2 years as in 1.8 over 2 years, which is 45,000 per person on average.

    It seems people posting here are only thinking about the negatives, what about the positives. We have turtles raised on the farm that are returning here to lay eggs. Those turtles would not be here if it were not for the TF’s efforts. The sale of meat also reduces wild catches as some fishermen can still take turtle, I believe, i might be wrong though as well as poaching. I say hold out as long as we can. Any of those positives make it worth while to keep the facilty going.

    I am not against closing or reorganizing some of the existing elements and refocusing on conservation/repopulation efforts but to say Just Close it is really narrow minded.

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  8. Guy, you are reading into that figure too much.

    Remember that they also reduced salary for some of the remaining employees by as much as 15 percent. So the reduction of 1.8 is attributable to reduced salaries for remaining employees and salaries not paid to the laid off employees.

    I am also sure that they had to pay severance packages to most of them, which would have raised the personnel cost even more for that period which they did not have to pay during this period.

    Suffice to say that you cannot take that amount at face value to work out a average pay for the laid off employees.

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