Unfair and inconsistent taxi pricing remains a major concern for tourism industry figureheads.
Cayman Islands Tourism Association leaders say they continue to field complaints from members, particularly restaurants and bars, about taxi prices.
CITA has been consulted in ongoing behind the scenes discussions over improvements to how the industry is regulated.
Ken Hydes, immediate past president of the association, said he understood public and member concerns about the rate of progress on the issue. But he said he was confident that a smartphone app – recommended by consultants as the best way to ensure fair and transparent fares – would be introduced soon.
“We have been party to some of the discussions on this and we have seen that progress is being made on the app,” he said. “We are waiting and ready to support launch and implementation.”
He said tourists and businesses simply wanted an independent mechanism to determine what the correct fare should be for any given journey.
David Carmichael, CITA vice president, said the association had led the charge on improving consistency and rates. He said there were still frequent complaints ranging from tourists being charged different prices for the same journey to people not being able to get a cab late at night or being dropped off at the wrong location.
The Compass reported last week that almost 3,000 people have signed a petition over the past two years calling for the implementation of taxi meters or equivalent technology.
“For those 3,000 people, I would say the level of frustration is probably justified,” Carmichael said. “From our perspective, we have seen progress, we have seen the app, we have seen the pricing structure and we would like to see it implemented imminently. We are ready and willing to help in whatever way we can.”
Hydes said concern over price and service of taxis was a thorn in the side of an otherwise booming industry.
“We have worked too hard and come too far, for this one dynamic to be the Achilles heel in an otherwise impeccable product,” he added.
Both men pointed out that CITA also receives compliments about taxi drivers in Cayman. They say the app will help create a level playing field and protect the reputation of Cayman and of the taxi industry from rogue operators.
Carmichael said CITA had helped start the conversation about this issue in 2017 and was happy to be the ‘middle men’ between government, restaurants and attractions and the drivers.
He said the only aim was to ensure a valid price for a fair service. Consultants from Deloitte were hired to examine Cayman’s taxi fare system amid outcry from the tourism industry around two years ago. They produced a report in April 2018, which recommended the introduction of a simple offline app to calculate and regulate fares.
The report was not made public until it was released to the Cayman Compass through a Freedom of Information request in February this year. None of its recommendations have been implemented as yet. Asked, at the time, what action had been taken since the report, Rosa Harris, director of tourism and the Public Transport Board chair, said work on a strategic plan, which would include a “provision of tools to support the sector”, had commenced. She was unavailable for further comment this week.