Make stay-over tourism work for Caymanians

| 25/06/2020 | 54 Comments

Mario Rankin writes: I am happy to see that more people are willing to publicly express their concerns with the premier on his statements made in a recent press conference. The statements were concerning the tourism industry and how, according to him, stay-over tourism wasn’t any great benefit to the local workforce.

He totally disregarded the fact that this sector is directly responsible for 80% of all revenues generated from tourism, and the only reason there might be some seriously unbalanced opportunities for the local people is because of a lack of proper legislation to ensure that the Caymanian people are trained, skilled and made aware through a comprehensive education programme that gives them the knowledge of the hospitality industry and all the benefits that comes along with it.

Funny thing is there was an article written in 1972 and published in the old Cayman Northwester magazine by the then head of tourism board, Mr Rody Zellzar, that highlighted the very issues we face today in the tourism industry.

In this article he stated that if there wasn’t a full, comprehensive training programme put in place then which highlighted the importance of the hospitality industry so our people would be encouraged and motivated to work in this sector of our economy, that we would certainly face imported cheap labour, because at the time they were building new hotels and this would have created a disadvantage for local people because of the low harvest of persons willing to work in that industry.

He went on to say that another hundred-room hotel wasn’t the solution at that time because of the tip of the scale, since the number of local people to fill the jobs was not that much.

What makes me really concerned is that we had this information from 1972 (48 years ago) and we’ve done absolutely nothing with it. And today, 2020, we see our one-time minister of education and two-term premier confirm an island-wide suspicion, with his utterances about the stay-over tourism and failed high school projects, that he is obviously the wrong person for the job. Luckily for us, his run on politics will come to an end in 2021.

Bear in mind, this is all being said while our islands are experiencing one of the most difficult times we’ve ever seen and with the only pillar of the economy we can call our own totally shot down and many Caymanians without work to take care of their families.

I would have hoped the person in charge would be more inclined to perform at his or her optimum and not use such a platform to express their disappointment about the failure of his government to build a cruise ship dock that would have saddled my great-grandchildren with responsibility to repay it, not to mention the damage to our environment.

The fact that he still went on to try and justify that the cruise dock was a good idea made me realise how truly ashamed I am that he is premier of these islands.

A few facts to consider:

  1. Anyone working in the hospitality industry that is not Caymanian is either on a work permit or has some sort of residency or status.
  2. The reason the Cayman Islands struggles to have job placement for the local community is because the government has allowed those businesses to enjoy the benefits of cheap labour with no legislation to protect certain level jobs for local people.
  3. How can we get away from cheap labor? Simple. Treat cheap labour just as it is, by making sure the person coming in to work on permits in the hospitality industry are only allowed to take up the jobs which are listed specifically for them, leaving the higher paying jobs for the local people, such as bartenders, floor managers, supervisors, tour operator/tour guides. Again there has to be a full overhaul in this industry that creates the balance and guidelines needed for Caymanians to participate alongside the foreign workers that are needed.

The end of everything is only possible because something started it all. So, let’s get it started so we can all benefit in the end.

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Category: Business, Tourism, Viewpoint

Comments (54)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Let’s think for a minute and say you want to be a truck driver? Why do you want to be a truck driver? I love the sound of the engine, I like to work on engines, I like to feel the power of the engine, the salary is low. Well, I will make more money as I get experience.
    But I’m young, I like to look at girls, I think I would work in tourism. I will work at the pool. Wow, I’m making $4.50 per hour but we’re in off season very little tips. 48 hour work week, somewhere between $20-100 per week in tips.
    Let’s experiment, all 5 star hotels will now pay $10 per hour due to cost of living. We now have a career we can be proud of. We won’t feel like a slave. Let’s try and see if its money? Heres another one, Let’s ask all the workers who quit, why? Make a pie chart or a list and find out if it’s the supervisor?

  2. Anonymous says:

    It’s really unfortunate that the redneck target market distrusts black people. Discuss. #currentevents

    • Anonymous says:

      Need to make the Hotels pay the mininium wages of 6 ci per hours, instead of 4 ci that they pay, plus tips. Tips don’t come from the Hotels. It comes from the people that stays there. Therefore the Hotels are not paying the minimum wages. Pension, holidays,
      Vacations are not payed on tips.

  3. Anonymous says:

    There’s been a few, but then moved on to professional jobs that pay even better.

  4. Anonymous says:

    It’s correct that locals should be able to find employment in the tourist industry, but don’t forget that the world over, traditionally, the tourism industry attracts other foreign nationals, who want to see life in another country and to enjoy themselves for a couple of years. Then they go home and get a “proper” job. So please don’t expect Caymanians to fill all the tourism jobs – which, for the most part are not going to give you the salary you need to buy your starter home (unless you’re a bar tender, whom I hear do very well); they are great jobs for the short term but not the type of job that you want to be in all your life. (Yes, I read about the chef of 40 years and the waitress – but that is not the norm).

    • Anonymous says:

      Plus it’s HARD WORK, not conducive to having a family due to the hours and looked down upon as a young persons job.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Shouldn’t the headline read, ‘Make Caymanians work for stay-over tourism’? That’s the real problem, they don’t want to do the work. Ask R-C what happened to their recruitment program.

    • Unknown says:

      Lol, you mean the same program that didn’t call back any willing, able bodied Caymanians? I as well as many others remember going there and applying for a position, and can’t even remember how many years now but still haven’t a received a call to say you weren’t successful much less a letter. So not sure where you were going with this but, just my two cents on this so-called program

  6. Anonymous says:

    “Anyone working in the hospitality industry that is not Caymanian is either on a work permit or has some sort of residency or status.”
    So… you’re not Caymanian if you have status, huh?

    • Anonymous says:

      O no….if you have status you’re drift wood. Caymanians are only those who can trace 7 generations in these islands. Hope that clarifies things for you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh how convenient, when a local, native or belonger speaks about this, the overwhelming response is there is no such thing as a “Caymanian”. A foreigner gains status, the proclamation is heard from the mountains that I’m Caymanian!!! And according to the law, all you really are is a Dual, British overseas territory citizen with “Caymanian status”.

      • Anonymous says:

        What mountains?

        • Anonymous says:

          mt trashmore I presume 😉

        • Anonymous says:

          All three Cayman Islands are part of a submarine mountain range immediately adjacent an active tectonic plate zone. There are a half dozen unnamed 10,000 ft submarine peaks just miles south of us, and the 20,000+ ft abyssal Cayman Trench, one of the great unexplored, unmapped “deeps” on the planet.

      • Anonymous says:

        Except one thing dipshit – I can vote.

    • Anonymous says:

      As far as I know , I am just a used to be a W.P. but you are not a Caymanian unfortunately my dear, you are just a Cayman Status not by blood

  7. Devon says:

    Cayman have a lot to offer but the people need to be motivated.A lot of the young people are more interesting in working in government because it better benefit.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Why would we want local staff when even XXXXX visits a local bar in prospect to see the Spanish ladies and do many Caymanian men.

    Do you think that our local women would put up with the attitudes of some of those men.

    Most Caymanians who work in the service industry work on SMB restaurants or hotels, resorts.

    If you want to complain Mario, address the issue of these bars treating their staff like pieces of meat.

    Don’t compare these places to the restaurants on SMB who mostly try to hire, treat their staff as family.

    I can only think of one group of restaurants on SMB who really don’t want to hire Caymanians and treat their staff terribly.

  9. Anonymous says:

    People need to understand that you don’t just start off as a manager, bartender, head chef or owner, you have to start as a busser, barback or kitchen helper. This also goes to persons who have a degree as a price of paper doesn’t mean you will fit in the industry. It takes a certain personality to be in the service industry.

    I know lots of hard working owners of restaurants who came to Cayman over twenty years ago and now are Caymanians.

    They came here as servers, chefs or maitre D, they worked they way up, then took theirs savings and invested opening up their restaurants, look at all the top restaurants, a majority of them as long serving industry staff
    (these owners also really appreciate what they have and give 100’s thousands a year to charities, just look at these restaurants cooking meals for persons at need at this time), a majority of them give back for their success.

    Our problem as Caymanians is we dont want to start at the bottom, we have always had that we are entitled and think we should be given the top jobs even though not qualified and expect to be paid above minimum wage not taking into consideration that they will make tips which if you look at it, they’d make more than starting off as a teller or most office jobs.

    The service industry isn’t easy, servers as treated by patrons with disrespect, verbally abused and sometimes by patrons sexually harassed (especially females). Caymanians also think that serving people is beneath them.

    There are several Caymanians who have been in the industry for many years, I know a Caymanian chef who has worked in the same establishment since he was 16yrs and now in his mid 40’s as head chef in the restaurant, a server has been in the business for as long starting in her teens and only worked in two different establishments.

    Believe me, you honestly think that employers enjoy paying permit fees, of course they’d hire Caymanians to avoid the thousands they’d save.

    We also have to look at over the last 25 yrs persons have been granted PR and some are now Caymanian, they still work in the industry, I could name at least 50 people right off my head (fb page friends lol).

    As I say above, it takes a certain personality to be in this industry, I can be taught to you but you must have the right attitude and be willing to work you @ss off, its not as easy as you think.

    Lets look at one of the hotels (I won’t say name but they have the best beach on island), they have done a great job hiring Caymanians, as you walk in the bellmen welcome you with a great smile make you immediately feel welcome to the island. Yes minimum wage but again the tips they make, making in the range of 3/4k perinth, on the same hotel, most of the housekeeping are Caymanians, they are excellent. They also have Caymanians servers and a few bartender, now these guys make great salaries.

    Another problem is when new comers start in the industry think its going to be easy, when given their first shift, it ranges from 5 to 7 hours, on you feet all day and at the same time smile (pretend) to be happy.

    Let’s be honest how many government departments (immigration, customs, licensing, planning etc) do we complain about because their staff are rude, obnoxious and treat you like sh@t. DON’T say none, just read comments on CNS, fb and other social media about the attitude of these staff, it this what we really want in our tourist industry (I’m sure Caymankind would be out the window immediately)

    Maybe we need to loose the attitude we are entitled, we need to teach our kids (like our forefathers), if you work hard, well mannered you can get somewhere not just walk in and make the big bucks.

    This is going to p@ss of a few people but let’s be honest the truth hurts.

    I’m looking forward to taking the family to our favourite restaurant opening, seeing all the staff and get some, wings, buffalo shrimp and chat with the staff who are always great, it’s s the ‘Cheers’ of Cayman.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Very much like the argument over migrant workers who pick produce in the US farms. No American wants to do that work. It’s hard work, long hours, dirty, for very little pay. Americans forget that if migrant workers who they despise so much weren’t in the fields, orange juice and lettuce would cost more than gold.

    Myself, I’d love one of those high paying jobs, but I lack the education and experience to get one and I recognize this.

    For those who really want to improve themselves, there are ample training programs in place right this very second for natives to learn all kinds of trade skills, including hospitality and tourism – at no cost.

    My boss wants nothing more than to hire natives – do you know we’ve received only one applicant who was a native, out of several hundred expats. And when this person was called for an interview she couldn’t be bothered to turn up!

    • Anonymous says:

      Tell me, which of the numerous North American waiters and waitresses in Cayman ever graduated from a tourism training school and required a certificate to get hired?

      Thought not.

      • Anonymous says:

        work experience. As several posters have pointed out the service industry is very much a ‘ground up’ industry, meaning you must work your way up to the better paying jobs of servers/bartenders/managers. Training school is a good way to get your foot in the door, but you must still work your way through. I assure you the NA servers in Cayman do not get work permits without experience. If you have ever had an inexperienced server in a busy establishment you will understand the value of experience.

        • Anonymous says:

          Many work permit holders have come here without experience, and in any event, experience is not a requirement for the jobs in North America where most come from. It is something school students can start doing in their vacations. Why not here?

          • Anonymous says:

            “Experience is not a requirement for the jobs in North America where most come from” ???

            This is a ridiculous statement based on zero information. PS Cayman is in North America

          • Anonymous says:

            How many school aged kids are willing to work in the summer? Not enough and most flock fosters paying little attention to the service industry.

  11. Anonymous says:

    So Cayman Islands School of Hospitality Studies (SHS) is fake? Seems pretty real to me but what do I know.

    I liked this line, “He totally disregarded the fact that this sector is directly responsible for 80%”.

    There’s plenty of ways to attract Caymanians to the hospitality industry, it doesn’t seem like rocket science. I think as a start, if this is an important issue for government, (which it seems to be) an articulation agreement could be set up between shs and the hotels when caymanians receive scholarship/grant for studying in the progamme (maybe they already do) The hotels can offer incentives for local applicants.

    I’m sure through concentrated efforts the hospitality industry will not only be more attractive but will be recognized as a solid career choice with plenty of opportunities.

  12. Anonymous says:

    It’s only been 48 years. They’re still exploring the issue.

  13. Mario Rankin says:

    Haha all you anonymous people I posted this same thing on fb why you all don’t share your comments their…..and please dont hide behind the “I dont use fb” excuse….unlike most of you that continue to criticize I try to have a conversation and voice my opinion on the issues…..

  14. Anonymous says:

    Is there anything that Mario doesn’t know? Except, perhaps, how to spell Rudy Selzer.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The issue in Cayman is the same issue in every ‘first world’ country. The imported labour take the jobs that the locals don’t really want to do. Just because you were born in a particular country does not mean you are entitled to anything other than the rights and privileges that your country offers. If one wants the ‘good jobs’, one must invest in either education or experience (ideally both). Government sponsored training is one way, but bottom line is you cannot walk into a manager or supervisor role (or bartender for that matter) just because you are Caymanian – without first gaining the knowledge and experience necessary for the job. Typically that means going to school or working your way up. Bartenders tend to start with bussing, and managers/supervisors tend to have a diploma or extensive work experience, that often starts with a minimum wage job.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Doing well right up until Point 3 and you roll out the entitlement mentality. Same old, same old.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Ahhh yes, the admirable and tiresome job of being a critic. Another case of do as I say, not as I do. Can the author confirm that in his many entrepreneurial pursuits, he has never utilized the cheap imported labor for which he now criticizes our Hon. Premier?

    CNS, this is not a case of shooting the messenger, however, it gets a bit tiring when people make a career out of criticizing and accusing others, while either doing the same thing, or worse, never doing anything at all to actually help.

    Election is in a year, I would like to see the author put himself forward for election based on his own policies for running the country. That is where the rubber meets the road, easy to say someone has not done something correctly through the benefit of hindsight; however, I will continue to have more respect for the man in the ring fighting the battle, than the jesters in the stand heckling and jeering.

    Mario cannot run.

    • Anonymous says:

      Noo, say it ain’t so. You mean …? oh okay then, so being a critic is his full-time career?

      I have heard the man on the radio, he can certainly argue well, just wish he would put his talents to constructive use rather than criticizing and bashing others.

  18. Anonymous says:

    It was good until you got to 1. 2. 3. It contradicts your second paragraph ending, the absence of comprehensible educational programme in the hospitality industry.

  19. Anonymous says:

    He won’t run, alright, but zillion problems Cayman is facing today

    “That’d be somebody else’s problem, not mine. Well, I shouldn’t say that wouldn’t be my problem. I would hope to be alive and be here, but it wouldn’t be my responsibility,” he [Premier]]added.” when he said He is sorry about landfill fires in March 2020..

    Watch this video often, so you won’t forget

    What is going to do after his failed “leadership” ends?

  20. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, but after the vile and fake news attack Mario launched about the Governor, I refuse to read his words.
    Amplify better voices.

  21. Anon says:

    What happened to the “Tourism training school” opened with great fan fare in West Bay??

  22. Anonymous says:

    WTF – higher paying jobs such as bartenders. I’ve been drinking here for over two decades now, I can’t even think of one “Born Caymanian” Bartender, maybe I just go to the wrong places.

    Why are we worried about this. Prior to Covid-19 we were told that Caymanian unemployment was 3-4%. These jobs and others are available to anyone who applies and can convince an employer they will consistently show up for work.

    • Anonymous says:

      Violet at the Lone Dog late 80’s/90’s. She was excellent.

      • Chris Johnson says:

        Violet was a wonderful person. Obviously he previous writer went to the wrong bars. The most famous lady working in the hospitality business was Mona Bush , the very first Cayman lady to act in serving drinks. She was not popular with many ladies at that time because at the time it was not the done thing. The old timers will tell you she worked in the Seaview and then the Lobster Pot. She was loved by all.

        Apart from that certainly the old Beach Club had great bartenders.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cheap Labour You wont agree to Do

    • Anonymous says:

      There’s been a few, but then moved on to professional jobs that pay even better.

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