Tourism business leaders have condemned government’s decision to delay the reopening of the border, claiming it is not based on scientific evidence and threatens the livelihoods of thousands of Caymanians.

The Cayman Islands Tourism Association released a statement Wednesday expressing dismay at the “indefinite pause in the reopening plan and continued closure of the borders”.

It recommends measures such as vaccine mandates, rapid testing and contact tracing, which it claims would be more effective and sustainable means of controlling the threat of the coronavirus.

CITA argues that COVID-19 is already in the community and that Cayman, like the rest of the world, must learn to live with it and manage those risks.

Government earlier had indicated it planned to remove quarantine requirements for securely verified vaccinated travellers from 14 Oct., facilitating the return of commercial flights and some tourism.

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Faced with the re-emergence of local transmission of COVID-19, Premier Wayne Panton announced Tuesday that step would be delayed for the rest of this year.

In response to that news, CITA, which represents hundreds of businesses in the tourism sector, said, “This decision clearly demonstrates a complete disregard for the livelihoods of thousands of Caymanians, prolongs the agony of so many in our community, and steals hope for the future.

“It is incredibly disappointing that the Government has reversed course, responding to emotion and fear rather than remaining guided by sound logic and scientific evidence.”

Many businesses have been hanging on since March last year – sometimes with the assistance of loans – in the belief that they will be able to recover once tourists return to Cayman.

But CITA has warned that the now certain loss of the tourism high season, typically November through March, will impact the chances of any recovery for the industry for the entirety of 2022. It projects a five-year timeline for the recovery of the industry.

“In the coming weeks and months, many tourism-dependent businesses will be forced to close and livelihoods will be lost as we approach two years without visitors to our shores,” the association said.

Seven Mile Beach
Calico Jack’s is one of the business casualties of COVID-19 but CITA warns that more could now go under.

“The quality of life for all Caymanians and residents will be impacted due to decreased investment in community infrastructure and the need for increased Government support.

“Thousands of tourism employees and Caymanian business owners and operators will be dependent on Government stipends for survival for the long term, which will impact all Caymanians and the level of services the Government will be able to provide.”

Premier Panton previously indicated that the $1,500 monthly stipends for displaced tourism workers would continue to be paid until they are “no longer necessary”.

‘COVID is not going away’

CITA argues that there is no logic or scientific evidence to support government’s decision to delay reopening on the basis of recent cases of community transmission.

It pointed out, in its statement, that COVID-19 is not expected to disappear and the risk to the public from reopening – now significantly reduced through a high vaccination rate – will be largely the same in January.

“It does not matter when the borders reopen, community transmission of the virus has already occurred and it is not the result of tourism activity. The Government must develop plans and strategies to deal with the new normal now and not procrastinate further, not just for the sake of tourism but for the entire economy and the country’s future,” it stated.

Marc Langevin, president of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association

The organisation also condemned what it described as “inconsistencies” in government’s approach.

“The borders are now closed indefinitely and the quarantine period increased, yet the Government has not issued vaccination mandates for frontline workers, educators, and others at risk as many other countries have done.

“The Government has also not acted on opportunities to control and contain through combined layers of protective measures and the use of technology.”

The association added, “CITA has recommended to Government that measures such as rapid testing, smartphone-based contact tracing and vaccination requirements for large group gatherings be implemented. ”

Citing comments from Governor Martyn Roper that “waiting out the pandemic is a forlorn hope”, the organisation said it should not be a shock that COVID-19 has returned to Cayman.

With one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, a world-class health system and more than 12-months to prepare, CITA argues Cayman should be able to manage the risks associated with the virus better than anywhere in the world.

“The Government has now clearly demonstrated a lack of confidence in its own planning and advisors,” it stated.

“We must have a national policy that protects both lives and livelihoods. We should be measured, calm and proactive rather than anxious, emotional and reactionary. We must have collective courage to chart a positive course forward for our islands in place of the fear stoked by continual uncertainty.”

Citing UK statistics, CITA adds that children, who cannot be vaccinated, face a 1 in 50,000 risk of serious illness, and less than 1 in 500,000 risk of death from the virus.

“In the average year in the US, more than 8 times as many children under age 18 die in car accidents than have died of COVID since the pandemic began,” the statement added.

Read CITA’s full statement here.

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  1. CITA is 100% correct and has worded this quite well.

    The points which stand out to me:
    Government is displaying a lack of confidence in its own systems.
    Government has also not acted on opportunities to control and contain through combined layers of protective measures and the use of technology.
    Government must develop plans and strategies to deal with the new normal now and not procrastinate further, not just for the sake of tourism but for the entire economy and the country’s future

    For a group which gets paid to make difficult decisions, I must say that the government is not earning its pay right now.

  2. Everything in the article above is correct. If you work in tourism in Cayman, its time to take yourself and/or your company elsewhere. The government here does not support you. If you don’t work in tourism and plan to stay (why would any of us at this point?), be prepared as the crime rate rises and overall quality of life in Cayman decline significantly.

  3. I have owned a 2 Br condominium in Cayman since 1994. We love Cayman .
    We are properly vaccinated but can’t even get in. We rent it when we are not using it. So far I have had to refund $40,000. Point is not to worry for me. My guests from one condo alone put probably 1/2 million when
    You add up rental and taxes of 13%
    5% gratuities to maids. All of the money they spend on meals drinks diving etc. Multiply this by the many places that will not be able to rent or bring people in and you will destroy the economy. My people have almost all said they are sick of Cayman’s
    Policies and will not come back.
    Wake up Cayman, don’t let them foist these policies on you.

  4. Langevin has played this as well as possible over what has been a terrible year and a half for his industry, with no end in sight due to a completely stupid and incompetent government. It must be like trying to talk to a bunch of sixth graders the way that the CIG has rolled out these hilarious re-opening plans that were never realistic in any way to start with. Like others said, they don’t even believe their own science.

    I said a long time ago that Langevin probably has to be careful what he says as to get anything done in Cayman it is probably a pretty small club. But he has probably started to give up hope and will start to up the volume a bit. He is likely at the point where there really isn’t much to lose anymore and he can start burning bridges if needed.

  5. Look people, it’s endemic now, and you’re eventually going to catch it just like the flu or cold.

    The only question is whether it’s going to kill you, hurt you, or be no big deal. Vaccinations make it much more likely that it wont kill you, so I’d recommend that. Some people seem to think differently so good luck to them.

    Its probably time to stop letting them freeload on everyone else’s immunity at the expense of the economy, though.

  6. Covid and it’s future variants “will” enter our community, there’s no way around it… The longer we stay closed, the longer we delay the inevitable. At some point if we don’t open, our financial services sector will leave because there’s nowhere for people to eat… Restaurants will close, good people will leave. We need to channel a message that we are opening, and get people vaccinated to live with the consequences of Covid in our society. As a nation, we do not have the luxury of becoming a closed hermit kingdom .. We risk losing our place and everything we have fought for for generations as we slip into madness

  7. In January 2021, made reservations to return to Grand Cayman for 2 weeks this December to celebrate 25-year anniversary of being married on the Island. Was notified by the resort hotel yesterday that my reservation has been cancelled! Both my wife and I have been fully vaccinated with 2 does of Pfizer vaccine since April. I am very sad not to be able to make this trip. We were prepared to show proof of vaccination and to wear masks in public settings, if required. Hopefully, pandemic cases will soon subside enough all around the world that tourism can return; maybe in time to celebrate our 26th anniversary on Grand Cayman.

    • We had our daughters wedding cancelled three times. We finally moved it to the Turks and Caicos very sad as we love the Cayman Islands and have been going for years. I think the only people that will be there will be the IT people that can work remotely and the bankers! I feel bad for the small business as well as the large resorts that employ so many people.

  8. We have been holding on by our fingertips for over 18 months now. I knew this Government was charging it’s stance a while ago when the worlds “maybe” and “if” starting appearing in the mix with reopening. There will be a lot of good Caymanians being let go now as quite a few of us have done what we could to keep our people employed. We were hoping to make SOMETHING this year, but that has now gone. We cannot hold on any longer.

  9. I really feel sorry for any company in the tourism business. I have a close friend that I personally have contributed to his business so that he can keep his employees, while limping along on domestic tourism on the weekends. He won’t survive much longer. The local dive shop decided to cancel two dive trips at were completely booked to Cayman after the announcement by the CIG. From the dive shop owner: “Its not worth the hassle and we lack the ability to make firm plans when I can book dive trips elsewhere”

    The CIG clearly does not care about the tourism sector. Langevin and Tibbits from CITA get it. Tibbits has already set up a dive resort business in Turks and transferred employees and assets out of Cayman to Turks.

    Personally, as a property owner for over twenty years, anyone know a good realtor? The place that I love will require me to jump through multiple hoops (Travel Cayman), it will cost me additional amounts (a domestic flight to Miami and a Cayman Airways flight) (an overnight hotel stay in Miami) (Cayman Airways cancelled my return flight last year and charged me an additional $285 US in change fees for a 1-way flight back to Miami), and my state provided vaccines are not recognized so I will be required to quarantine for a prolonged period. Just like the dive shop it’s just not worth it anymore.

  10. Cayman it’s time to accept what you can’t control or be left behind. We’ve been finalizing our plans to get married on 7 mile beach this November and as much as we’d love to say our vows in GC waiting indefinitely isn’t an option. Covid is part of life now and you have realize that. I feel sorry for the lost revenue to our wedding planner, who has worked very hard on this venue, the Coralstone Club and our favorite local restaurants. There will never be an ideal time to reopen your borders. You’ve waited long enough and done all you can do realistically to protect your citizens.

  11. We had a booking to visit Cayman for two weeks in October to see our Goddaughter her new baby and family .Because you have now changed your quarantine rules overnight it is impossible for us to come to Cayman .We have cancelled .Quarantining for 7/9 days virtually takes up half of our time on the island .I live in Cornwall U.K. been double vaccinated and have therefore feel to impose these restrictions when your numbers are so low compared to the rest of the world is beyond comprehension .Your tourism will not be able to sustain a further lengthy period of quarantining Cornwall has been flooded with visitors during this year and even though we only have a small hospital it has not been problematical .This virus is here to stay …IT IS NOT GOING AWAY .Cayman needs to wake up and start welcoming visitors back who have been double vaccinated without them having to isolate .To impose these restrictions is harming not only the physical but the mental health of the people living on this island .You have to start living not closing your borders to visitors and living in a bubble .Covid is here to stay !

  12. The irony is the very people making these decisions are the one who will be completely unaffected by what they are doing. Not only will they continue with their inflated salaries and perks, but they had the nerve to award themselves salary increases earlier this year. They claim hardship is necessary but only so long as it does not affect them or our army of civil servants and SAGC employees.

  13. Ain’t much to said…is a drastic,dramatic and it’ll be a chaotic economy situation for the Cayman Islands…base on their main revenue incomes are; Tourism & Finance Service..but let’s face Cayman cost of living is already high as it’s…for long Govt…will be provided stipend…when one of your revenue income is affected…covid is already endemic ..we gotta learn live with it…implementing long waitin’ for Borders Open,Lock Down,Curfew,Restrictions…won’t stop covid from coming…

  14. All these comments are dead on! Just saw an article stating that masks will be duty-free until June 2022. Is this a signal that CIG has no intention of moving forward with reopening until next summer? I hope not but at this point, I have ZERO faith in their ability to facilitate a reopening plan without bouncing back to quarantine and restrictive entry requirements each time community spread of Covid happens.

    The businesses that will close, the tourist that will not return, the financial sector employees that will go elsewhere because they can’t come and go without lengthy quarantine…it all points to a very sad future for Cayman. It’s time to fish or cut bate. Government it’s time for you to make a decision and get the island open or make it clear that you have no intention of reopening until Covid is not a threat. Property owners (myself included) it’s time to decide if it is worth continuing to pay strata fees on a place you can’t rent or visit.

  15. Well I’m definitely sad. Been planning a trip
    For November since May when things started to look hopeful. Oh well. By the way that is an untrue statement that Calico Jack’s closed because of covid. We were there the last year of CJ’s and it closed because the owner retired. My husband talked to him. Covid didn’t even exist then!

    Anyway Cayman is losing its appeal
    With all the crime, decaying coral, culling of animal life, poaching, feral dogs and cats everywhere, overgrowth of building up every millimeter of land with stupid hotels. It was so primitive 35 years ago. No air conditioning. Quiet. Only a Burger King. Could walk around without fear. Still crazy bad drivers but it was a peaceful place. Last time
    We visited, 3 years ago, everyone was complaining and scared of what development geared towards the rich had done to the locals. It was hard to enjoy myself knowing our cleaning lady was making $8 an hour and trying to feed 3 kids. Locals shut out of ocean access, can’t afford what foreigners afford. Groceries so expensive I don’t even know how local people survive. The only reason tourism exists is because local people are working their asses off to support their families in an island that is theirs, not ours, and it’s been built up right out from under them.

    We aren’t rich and it’s a financial plan to come
    There for a few days. I have nothing but respect
    And gratitude for all the locals who are trying to live on an island that keeps trying to suffocate them out.


  16. For many months now, especially given the decision to not accept CDC vaccination cards, I’ve concluded this goes beyond common sense health precautions and that there is an objective to dramatically reduce U.S. tourism for some period. If true, who would benefit from this? Who has the resources and time to last out a prolonged border closure? Who could buy up increasingly available prime properties? It appears to me that nothing happens in Cayman without the involvement/approval of certain parties. I hope I’m wrong, but it makes me wonder. I’ve seen several other reader comments alluding to a possible motive.
    I terribly miss the wonderful people, surf and nature of Cayman, and hope to return someday when we’re wanted back.