The Cayman Islands government has decided not to bother with an initiative set out by the Ministry of Finance to begin prosecuting public vendors who set up shop without first obtaining a trade and business licence.
The crackdown, which was to commence this month, included all public places, but the primary concern were the public beaches.
“DOT welcomes vendors offering visitors and residents a taste of our heritage and culture in public spaces. However, it should never occur to the extent where our visitors and residents begin to feel harassed,” said Shomari Scott, director of the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism.
He added that the department supported the Department of Commerce and Investment and its Trade and Business Licensing Unit in their campaign to manage and regulate public vending, in particularly along public beaches.
“We hope all business persons see this campaign not as a hindrance but as an initiative to ensure the Cayman Islands maintain their place as a premier tourist destination,” Mr. Scott said.
Ryan Rajkumarsingh, head of licensing and enforcement at the Trade and Business Licensing Unit, added to Mr. Scott’s comments by explaining that anyone caught operating without a trade and business licence in a public place could be prosecuted by authorities in the Cayman Islands.
The measure would have also affected artisans at the George Town craft market and roadside vendors, though the focus of the round-up was public beaches, where everything from ice cream to rides on flotation devices and beach chairs are being purveyed.
Michael Morgan, owner of V-Kool, a business that offers visitors and residents rides on a labyrinth of flotation devices, strewn along the beach, was asked by the Caymanian Compass to share his recent experiences. He said in his view, as long as their was no teeth in the law to address the issue of vendors in public places, the Business Licensing Unit and the police service would be fighting a losing battle and wasting time and resources.
“There is nothing written in the law prohibiting us from doing business on the beach,” he said. “I had a licence, but now they are refusing to renew it. I have been under threat now for over a year but there is nothing in the law that says we should not be here. I haven’t stopped because I don’t agree with what they are trying to do without a written law in place to back up their actions.”
During a recent media briefing, Cabinet Minister Rolston Anglin addressed the issue of the laws on the books being antiquated and not up to speed.
“We are in the process of looking at what has been put together,” Mr. Anglin said. “There are going to be some change to the proposed policy. As a result, the crackdown will not take place this month. Traditionally, this kind of vending has not been a part of Caymanian culture and it us unfair to have some people doing business other than how it should be done.”