Cayman tourism chiefs disappointed with BBC documentary

DoT helped facilitate filming but was unaware of content

Tourism bosses say they are disappointed with the content of the recent BBC documentary on the Cayman Islands.

The Department of Tourism, through its London office, helped arrange some of the interviews for the production, “Britain’s Trillion Pound Island.”

Director Rosa Harris said it had come to the department as a query from Chalkboard productions about a lifestyle-type show.

“The Department of Tourism did not sponsor it. We were merely a facilitator of the program. It is unfortunate. We are all disappointed in terms of the tone and what was showcased for the brand and the destination.”

BBC journalist Jacques Peretti in Cayman.
BBC journalist Jacques Peretti in Cayman.

She said the Department of Tourism had simply passed on the request from the production company, which had filmed a program in 2014 on Brits living in the Cayman Islands.

“That’s when the advancement of covering Cayman more came about with the lifestyle platform, which obviously was under the disguise of trying to unearth a tax haven,” she added.

“Chalkboard reached out to numerous persons. We passed on information but didn’t get involved. It was only after the fact that we were aware of what the storyline actually was,” she said.

It is understood that the production company had initially planned a reality-style show about people with British links living in Cayman. It was only after the show was taken on by the BBC that the theme was altered to include the “tax haven” angle and journalist Jacques Peretti came on board to again interview some of the participants. Cayman officials do have the power through the Film Commission to reject permits for productions if the content could be damaging to the destination.

“If it is not a good fit for the destination and we are aware of it, we would treat it in that manner and advise accordingly,” said Ms. Harris. “We would never do anything damaging to our brand.”

There is a downside, however, to refusing access to film crews, no matter what their agenda. Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell suggests government would be reluctant to deny access to film crews based on content.

He added, “I think if the DoT or government had said ‘I’m sorry, you can’t come and do a story here in Cayman about financial centers or tax havens’ or whatever, you can imagine the negative publicity the Cayman Islands could have gotten from that.”

He said the challenge now is to turn a negative into a positive and parlay the name recognition and spectacular images that came out of the documentary into a tourism marketing opportunity.

“We are where we are,” Mr. Kirkconnell said. “The story is out. It’s obviously created a stir here and quite a few people have commented on it.

“What we have to understand is how we can use this to our advantage, having Cayman globally seen. If we follow that up in a positive light, we believe it can help us from that standpoint.”

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7 COMMENTS

  1. What we need to do is to stop expressing disappointment at every Tom, Dick and Harry who points an insulting finger at us; and do something positive about it.
    Our Leaders need to show more mental strength and open their mouth against this outrageous abuse.

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  2. So using their normal gobbledygook excuse for English DoT claim they got blindsided by the BBC? The BBC’s track record on bashing tax havens is well documented and it would have taken less than 10 minutes to check Jacques Peretti’s background. The bottom line is if they’d done a bit of research DoT could have seen this coming. Doesn’t this story speak volumes for the abilities of those running the department?

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  3. Many socialists Brits are doubtless saying, “Off with their heads”.

    On the other hand I have to wonder how many well off ones have seen this and thought, “Looks good to me.”

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    • Norman Linton

      Probably not too many. A few years ago the major banks in the UK were doing a hard sell of the Cayman Islands as a safe place to invest (stash might be a better word) money. In the main the bank customers were encouraged to put their money in accounts here and invest in rental properties. It all backfired when HMRC used European Law to access all the accounts involved and thousands of people got unexpected tax demands. The fact is that if you live in the UK and try to hide your money offshore you are still liable for tax on it in the UK.

      As for Brits watching the documentary and thinking about moving to the islands? Dream on. Spain and France are closer, cheaper and more Brit-friendly. A good friend of mine considered moving his business (90% is done online) out here but after looking at the air fares, the immigration hassles, health service issues, cost of living and the fact that buying property here is a huge gamble chose Spain. He now enjoys pretty much California-style weather, a sensible cost of living and if he needs to pop home can fly back for peanuts or use the ferry from Santander.

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  4. Disappointed? Maybe in the London Office of Tourism! This was NOT a tourism program. It never was. This person misled everyone on purpose. He is not a tourism journalist. Does no one do their homework anymore? Shame on all in Gov’t that helped this person with his program. You were so desperate for someone to say something good, no one looked into the fact that this journalist does these investigative pieces for his living.

    But I am sure we have some great Caymanians manning their post. They just don’t know what they are doing!

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