Just when things began to look like they may spiral out of control, Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell intervened, put a firm hand on the wheel and steered the Cayman Islands out of a public relations debacle.
We’re referring to Cabinet’s recent decision to eliminate the Customs Department’s wrong-headed policy of demanding 30 percent deposits on wedding dresses from visiting couples, a practice that came to light only after a groom complained to the media about his treatment at Owen Roberts International Airport.
Initially, this was a one-time story, the equivalent of a fire in a wastepaper basket. But when Customs Collector Samantha Bennett poured fuel on the fire — clumsily brandishing bureaucratic contempt rather than the healing balm of mea culpa — the situation exploded into a full-fledged public relations conflagration.
Acting like the proverbial “adult in the room,” the Deputy Premier, who is also the Minister of Tourism, called a timeout and brought more than a modicum of common sense to this senseless policy — and the senseless defense of it by the Collector of Customs.
Cabinet, too, deserves its fair share of recognition and applause. It took the proper action and has now made it abundantly clear — to tourists, to residents and, we trust, to Ms. Bennett — that if you visit Cayman to get married or participate in a wedding, nobody’s going to be hassled over any duties or deposits on wedding apparel.
We suspect that was the real practice of Customs all along and that insisting on a deposit for a wedding dress was an anomalous mistake, compounded by Ms. Bennett’s covering for her officers. Loyalty to one’s staff is admirable, but duty (no pun intended) to one’s country is a higher calling.
Thanks to the Deputy Premier’s leadership, this senseless threat to Cayman’s burgeoning wedding industry has been extinguished.