(CNS): The private sector association representing the tourism industry has come to the defence of the regulation, licensing and tax regime surrounding the local accommodation sector. The Cayman Islands Tourism Association released a statement this week saying that the regulation has served the tourism industry and the country well, as it is fair for all and ensures the safety and well-being of visitors. Responding to a critical editorial in the Cayman Compass this week, CITA said the paper had misrepresented the sector and the need for licensing and standards.
In a long statement (see below) the association said that the accommodation licences “ensure the safety and a minimal standard of quality for all commercial accommodation provided to visitors in the Cayman Islands regardless of how or where the business is transacted”.
Accepting that the law is due for a revision, CITA defended the regulation of accommodation, which it said has fuelled the strong reputation of the Cayman Islands tourism experience, and despite the 13% room tax, which is paid by the guest and not the property owner, Cayman continues to maintain one of the highest average daily accommodation rates in the Caribbean.
“In an era when the community at large as well as industry, the tourism industry being no exception, continues to demand more …is it really unreasonable that a tax be levied for a sector that requires the high level of service and support as does tourism?” the association asked, adding that a more constructive suggestion for government would be to ring-fence a fixed percentage of the tax for specific tourism-related services and enforcement.
CITA denied that the licensing regime was “unpleasant or unreasonable” and, in addition to ensuring the safety of guests and that they have a pleasant experience during their stay, it creates an important database of information.
“Over the course of a decade and longer for some, the CITA Accommodation Directors in managing the licensing inspection process for small, medium and large properties across Grand Cayman, have never felt that the process was arduous or unnecessary,” the association said, as it defended the overall regime and pointed to the work done by the Department of Tourism (DOT) to maintain standards, as well as helping to promote and market accommodation.
CITA said it had also worked to combat the challenges presented by aspects of new platforms, such as Airbnb. This site is completely reshaping tourism accommodation in some jurisdictions, where locals have been entirely sidelined because former long-term rentals have switched to this new ‘gig economy’.
CITA praised the DOT, which “had the foresight and fortitude to negotiate a memorandum of understanding with Airbnb in order to facilitate such business development within the Cayman Islands regulatory structure …protecting our standards, fair practice and ultimately, the Cayman Islands reputation”.
While noting that there is work to be done to enhance and protect Cayman’s tourism, including expanding the benefits of tourism beyond Seven Mile Beach and encouraging more Caymanians into the sector, CITA urged the community to support the current review of the national plan for tourism and the regime that exists to protect the standards of the Cayman brand.
Category: Local News