Crackdown on street and beach vendors begins

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The Cayman Islands Government has started a crackdown on unlicensed vendors on Cayman’s public beaches and on streets.

The Trade and Business Licence Unit issued cease and desist orders, dated 31 January, to vendors on Wednesday, 6 February.

The order reads: “The Trade and Business Licensing Unit of the Department of Commerce and Investment advises you to cease and desist all business activities until you have received relevant permission from all of the required government authorities.”

The notice goes on to say that unlicensed vendors are in breach of the Trade and Business Licensing Law, an offence which carries penalties of a fine of $5,000 or imprisonment of 12 months.

The crackdown on unlicensed vendors was originally scheduled to be carried out in January but was postponed.

The beachside vendors argue that they cannot get a Trade and Business Licence for their operations because no licences are being issued that would allow them to carry out business on the beach.

For more on this story, read Friday’s Caymanian Compass.


  1. I totally agree with the crack down on beach and street vendors selling or renting without a permit. If this is allowed to go on without a licence/permit, soon every dog and cat on the island will have a cardboard hut along the seven mile beach and along the road side. It is definately not pretty sight. However I see no reason wrong with selling if (1) You have the licence to do so and (2) Your area to sell is beautified to a tourist attraction standard; not just some makeshift umbrella or cardboard hut. That is not good enough.
    I believe that beaches can be a good area to sell if you have a trade an business licence, but the government must be in controll of building these places, and inspecting these places once a month.. Also I would suggest that the department of Trade and business carefully scruntinize all applications put before them before granting a licence.

  2. Going to Public Beach and being met by a line up of beach chairs from one end to the other is very discouraging. I don’t want to have a confrontation but what gives anyone the right to take all the prime beach spots without a specific person in one of the chairs. If the vendor does not have a license remove him and all the chairs. If he does have a license only allow him to put out chairs if someone actually rents them and is using them. Leave Public Beach to the public!

  3. If you go to 7 MB, and want to sit on a beach chair, you can’t. Only registered guests of the hotels are allowed on the beach chairs — which is great if you’re staying there — but what about the thousands of tourists to visit 7MB and are staying elsewhere? Naturally, you can’t have dozens of huts set up all along the beach — what has to happen is that the government assesses the needs, and issues a LIMITED number of permits to provide such a service, along with a set criteria as to quality of chairs, the number of chairs, safety, etc.

  4. This is just reflective of how hard the economic times are in Cayman. Whereas large establishments and hotels are raking in huge cash, small local vendors are hustlin to make ends meet. Most naturally with stricker laws and law enforcement on them, these people under intense stress, will more than likely break the law or find some way to go around it, causing more problems for the large establishments.

    When you think freedom and feel the pain, what do you do if the law fights against your freedom? If you born and raise here and no where else to go, most naturally, you will break the law. And the second problem is, we don’t have the large Northward facilities to house another 100 people.

  5. Bodden,

    What about the licensed businesses operating on the same beach? I understand people are having a hard time but you have to spend money to make money and if I have to so should they.

    How much do they rent a chair for anyway, I bet its 5 bucks a half hour or something ridiculous like that. They could easily pay for a license but choose not to. They want to operate without any overheads or standards. In the long run, it hurts them as much as well as Cayman. They are bringing down the Caymanian experience/product.

    Government should allow some vendors to operate on the beach but only those who meet a certain standard and are licensed as it will eventually turn into a free for all of cardboard signs and raggedy tents and people who go there will be run off for not buying anything or for taking someones operating space.

  6. As a visitor to the Island, I love not having the vendors on the beach. That is what I hated about Cabo. Don’t run people off the Island because the beaches are cluttered with vendors. We come to see the beautiful beach and ocean.

  7. Beenie, it should be a win-win situation. Government should zone out certain areas for free vendors. In Jamaica they have markets inland. Here we need something like that for the small business people. I can’t tell when the last time I went to Jamaica, Mandeville and walk through one of their crowded markets where you meet locals and bump into hanging bananas and have to watch your foot for sugarcanes laying down on the ground. The things I see, taste, and touch in a crowded market is a wonderful experience. That is what tourists I believe want to see – not beaches by themselves. They want to meet people; they want to see and taste culture. I find that markets are the place are the place for this. Instead of running vendors off the beach and causing some of them to resort to breaking the law, zone out locations where they can sell. I am sure if government zoned certain areas for these vendors, tourists would want to come back here. Tourists just dont want to see 4 walls to a room in a hotel. They want to use their 5 senses, experience, and go some place where they can bump into people and meet friendly faces.

    As for trade and business license fees and the cost of doing business in the Cayman Islands, everybody knows that they should be lowered. Don’t put all the blame on the vendors or large establishments for the cost of doing business here. It is government to blame – lowering fees and duties is a government responsibility. We all know that and that is where we should be trying to make a positive change – our dumb laws.

  8. Bodden,

    I have lamented at the fact that we do not have a suitable place for our small vendors. I too agree that Goverment should take the lead in this. Recently reading the article about Rayburn Ebanks hurt me.

    But as for the beach, setup up something across the road, regulate and rotate spots so that each vendor can have a chance to sell and so that it optional for visitors to go there or not and not have fight for a spot on the beach. I have heard mention of such a space in the planned expansion by Dart so one can only hope this is true.

    At the end of the day people go the beach to see and enjoy the beach. Not to be haggled by renegade vendors.

  9. Beenie / Bodden. The difference between Jamaica and Cayman, other than the economical setup, is the sheer size, where would you put the markets?
    Ideally this would be an excellent option, but the fact is, Jamaica is 4,244 square miles where as Grand Cayman is just a little over 100 square miles of more densely built up land.
    I agree that beach vendors without license should be discouraged from trying to trade on the beaches, as all they are doing is hurting other small businesses trying to do things the legal way.

  10. This is unhappily yet another example of what is happening all over the world in tourist destinations: the inhabitants of these destinations want to share in the benefits from tourists coming – but to control the resulting free-for-all is beyond the capacity of all but the most dictatorial governments (e.g. Singapore). And in Caribbean countries where political ethics, social discipline and familial discipline, collapsed long ago, the outcome is horribly predictable. Devil take the hindmost indeed.

  11. This is precisely why I chose to invest in a timeshare in Grand Cayman versus the Bahamas or Jamaica. No one likes to be pestered when they are trying to relax or just walk and sightsee in town. Please do not allow this to proliferate on Grand Cayman.

  12. We were in Granada on Grande Anse beach where we witnessed two chair vendors fighting over customers. Needless to say, the experiance left a bad impression on us and we havn’t been back.

    This last December we witnessed the chair vendors on Public Beach in Grand Cayman fighting over location.

    Fix this…

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