Chamber welcomes vendor clampdown

A clampdown on unlicensed vendors selling arts, crafts and jewelry to tourists at the Royal Watler pier has been welcomed by the local Chamber of Commerce.

The Port Authority of the Cayman Islands has moved to ban some vendors from the dock, the main point of entry to the Cayman Islands for cruise ship passengers.

Vendors have been allowed to hawk their wares to tourists at the dock for years. But concerns have been raised about insurance liability, as well as licensing regulations.

Some of the vendors, who were earlier moved off Public Beach, have complained about what they see as unfair treatment. Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said they have a vital role to play and government is working on finding the right locations for properly regulated craft markets to give these “Caymanian entrepreneurs” a home.

The Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce welcomed the news and called for a wider clampdown on “illegal roadside vendors.”

“The port is the gateway for over a million cruise visitors each year and all efforts must be taken to ensure that their first impression is hassle-free and enjoyable,” said Chris Duggan, chamber president.

“The chamber supports the establishment of craft markets in strategic locations and the increase and improvement of public restroom facilities throughout our islands,” he said. “By taking these actions, we believe that the business environment will be cleaned up and the customer experience for both the cruise visitor and our residents will be appropriately served.”

The chamber said in a statement that the number of roadside vendors operating in the Cayman Islands has increased dramatically in recent months.

The statement also said that the chamber has urged successive governments to take decisive action to close businesses that operate without the required licenses and fail to meet their statutory obligations to pay workers’ pensions and health insurance.

“Illegal businesses and unlicensed roadside vendors taint the business landscape and create a bad impression for our residents and visitors. The chamber calls upon government to step up enforcement and remove these illegal vendors and support honest and law-abiding businesses that pay their fees and create employment opportunities for thousands of Caymanians and legal residents. Furthermore, government should also lead by example by not hiring local businesses that have not met these statutory obligations,” the statement said.

Mr. Duggan added, “Through lack of enforcement, the government has essentially been allowing these illegal businesses to gain a competitive advantage while the law abiding companies are faced with increased fees. It is imperative that this be addressed across all industry sectors.”

He said the chamber welcomes new small businesses and entrepreneurs as members. All members are required to possess a current trade and business license and sign the chamber’s code of ethics.

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