Caymans expat watersports businesses fear hard times are ahead

Published:  6 May at 6 PM
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Tagged: USA, Citizenship
Expat and local watersports operators in the Caymans Islands are up in arms over unfair licenses.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic all but destroyed tourism in the Cayman Islands, life wasn’t a dream for many watersports operators due to too many licenses having been granted. Once a lucrative way for foreign incomers as well as locals to earn a living on the islands, the job isn’t now a prime reason for arrivals from overseas. The amount of trade able to be done has been lessening for a good while, with the majority of those providing the service on financial thin ice even before the pandemic wrecked the local tourism industry.

Long-stay expatriate instructors point to limited custom being spread too thinly amongst too many license holders, due to the government’s granting of licenses to anyone who applied, whether experienced or not. Worse still, licenses were being handed out to locals falsely claiming to own 60 per cent of a related business simply to get a license. As a result, the vast majority of honest operators have now stopped trading due to the pandemic’s effect on tourism.

Legal, experienced operators in this formerly lucrative business are now urging the government to root out dodgy license owners, thus cleaning up the sector and allowing Cayman citizens to do what they’re best in the world at doing – watersports. Those with established water sports businesses are attempting to keep the hope of improved tourism alive, and need governmental support to simply keep going until the winter season. The majority of visitors traditionally arrive from the USA, the worst country on the planet as regards the effect of the coronavirus on its economy.

Many expats in the Caymans’ hospitality sector are also concerned about the virus’s effect on the cruise ship sector, expecting it’ll be one of the last to recover, if ever. Locals agree expat residents need to be treated with kindness, but are reluctant to allow them to take over businesses formerly owned by locals. Whatever happens as regards the pandemic, Caymans residents as well as expats aren’t expecting miracles but they’re prepared to work hard to minimise its effect.
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