The real problems of stay-over tourism

| 19/06/2020 | 67 Comments

The problem is that monopolistic operations are allowed to set miserly wages across the entire Seven Mile Beach area. Nobody can expect to survive long in the local economy at the meagre wage offered for most positions. Expats are brought in from poor countries and exploited to create wealth for the owners (who are often marginally Caymanian or foreign). We need a solid series of labor policies that prevent this exploitative practice.

On top of that financial limitation, local workers are additionally discouraged from working stay-over tourism by the oppressive work conditions and constant abuse of the existing labour laws by employers. I have personally dealt with naive workers who believe that a work permit obligates workers to the employer and better options are not able to be sought without the boss’s approval.

I have helped people deal with sexual assault cases made with threats of overnight expulsion from the island. Nobody can complain to authorities without being the target of vindictive actions. It is disgusting.

And then we see a wall put up by the same industry blocking native Caymanians from enjoying the accommodations and mingling with tourists. I have been told to move elsewhere while walking the beach in front of many resorts. This has created a decades long divide between stay-over tourism and cruise tourism / Expats versus Caymanians. The island culture has suffered a vicious injury, all for the benefit of outside investors and a few selfish companies.

We have an incredible chance right now to stop this division and heal the wound that has festered for so long. Create and enforce vigilant labour policies that prevent the continued abuse of workers. Create rental laws that define how to humanely treat renters and how to protect the rental properties available. Enforce laws about beach access and use. And most importantly, publicly explain the real rights employees have as a part of a continual policy of government activity with support offices, websites and contact numbers to handle issues 24 hours a day.

Make the world safe for Caymanian workers, welcome back the expats (who have been exploited for years) as allies and embrace both aspects of who represents Cayman to visitors. We get to decide every part of the new tourism product. Do not let your element of that be anything less than a model for the entire region to follow.

This comment was made in response to: Premier: Stay-over tourism a massive failure

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Category: Business, Jobs, Letter to Editor, Local News, Tourism, Viewpoint

Comments (67)

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  1. anonymous says:

    Any beach is Public to the mean “high water” mark, not the vegetation line as some have commented.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I found it quite appaling to hear the Premier say in the press breifing that Caymanians do not want to work for the salary the hotels pay and that’s the reason they have to bring in expat labor. What an excuse! He of all people saying that and he is the head of Government. The main one who should be pushing to get the salaries up to date so that Caymanians would want and can afford to take those jobs.

  3. Autonomous says:

    The suggestion that expats are forced here against their will is completely absurd.
    No one is actually making $4.50/hr. That may be the lowest base wage, but the service charge applied to every guestroom goes directly to and is shared across the pool of workers who worked in that pay period.
    As far as beach rights, everyone knows that the shoreline up to the high water mark is public. In terms of use of chairs and umbrellas that are on the hotel’s property, try this at any strata and see how quickly you’re ejected.
    The reckless vilification of this industry that contributes a lot of revenue and supports other local businesses is beyond dangerous.
    If you don’t like the laws that the industry is operating within, get the laws changed. Hold your local officials accountable. Alden has the audacity to point blame at the big, bad industry when he has not only the power, but the responsibility to help those who have the power to vote here.
    There’s also an op-Ed posted Here yesterday by Mr Bodden who was the chair of a council charged with fixing the issues. He was the chair of the council that proved ineffective. He was shocked that his “high hopes” weren’t enough to make a difference.
    Time to face the facts. Your leaders are, at best, ineffective or more likely, operating with disregard for your needs. Take the finger you are pointing at industry and expats and check a different box in the voting booth.

  4. Anonymous says:

    A tangent but necessary, why are comments always blocked on XXXX stories? XXXX

    CNS: It has nothing to do with the person. As is clear if you look at our site as a whole, we close comments on court cases, generally from the time of arrest, until there is a verdict, a guilty plea or until the case closes for some other reason, due to sub judice rules. The reasoning behind it is basically that negative comments about the defendant could affect the outcome and impact their right to a fair trial. In the US the First Amendment overrides sub judice concerns.

  5. Sunrise says:

    I have been preaching this for a long time now. We have slave labor right here on these islands, the fifth financial centre in the world. What a shame this is and it is causing a divide in the employment sector, mostly spoken that caymanians are lazy and do not want to work. This is not the case with 90% of caymanians, we are willing to work but not for $4.50 an hour!! How the hell can you live in cayman, get a mortgage and feed a family at $4.50 an hour, come on now!! I applaud you for bringing this to the spotlight. Get some serious changes to the labor law!!!

    • Chris Johnson says:

      I am bemused by all comments on this subject. The point I raise is whose fault is it? The government is only elected by Caymanians. Expats have no say unless they are paper Caymanians.
      So all blame for all problems lies at the foot of the Government going back numerous years.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes Sir and every 4 years we somehow forget the lessons learned and out of blind loyalty to people who are so distant in family that Pluto is closer. We complain “just wait till next election day.” “Eat um out, drink um out, vote um out.” Yet year after year here we are. Same Shyte different named government.

    • Anonymous says:

      Labour law is from 2011. Cost of living has gone up about 2-3% each year since then.
      The labour law needs to be updated and minimum wage should be reviewed each year in line with The cost of living.
      Another law that needs annual review is the health law which outlines what a medical aid should be covering on medical costs. This is area where again the low wage employees lose out the most because the basic medical covers maybe $300 a year on doctor visits but 1 doctor visit starts at around $120 and that’s without any medication. And don’t even get me started on dental coverage for these employees.

  6. Anonymous says:

    There is a lot of truth here. Unfettered access to cheap global labour is not a good thing for Cayman. If we we’re competing with global economies on a local level it would be one thing, but we’re not. Fosters is not competing with Hi-Lo Grocery in Kingston on the price of bread and milk.

  7. Anon says:

    You are missing the point. Global interests are using Cayman as a site to import elite guests and cheap foreign labor to serve them at low cost. You native Caymanians are in the way of this process, although the Globalists will cut in the local native chiefs for a small cut to keep the natives out of the way.

    That is what is going on. If you as an average native Caymanian are feeling more and more left out, it is because you are. You are in the way.

    You should remember this when you vote.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Its called business and it is the same everywhere. Jobs always go to those who are willing to work the hardest for the least pay. Everywhere. That is what disqualifies most Caymanians. If more of you complainers would get off your keyboards, stop the whining, and get to work proving that you are great workers you would solve your own problems.
    Haters gonna hate. Workers gonna work. Everywhere.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is correct for a capitalist country. If you want “fair” wages for everyone, move to China.

    • Anonymous says:

      Education and skills. If we as Caymanians do not improve our education, we will not be able to compete for jobs. If our skills are matched for low income employment, no amount of “I deserve better” will get us a better job unless protected by those you know.

      Hey, “I want a fancy car and a big house, but I have no advanced skills… But I deserve it.” Reality dictates.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Can someone tell me if whether or not the resorts allow locals to use the beach for a fee? If this isn’t in practice, it should be. I wouldn’t mind paying for using the resorts’ access to the beach.

    • Anonymous says:

      The beach is available for everyone, at all times, and for free.

    • Jack don’t want me to bath on my beach says:

      Sounds like apartheid or what is done in Jamaica. This is how segregation is implemented and the divide amongst the people grows. The beach is mine I’m going to anytime.

    • Anonymous says:

      No, they don’t. The Kimpton won’t even serve you food or drink if you are on a beach chair. I rocked up to one once and the server came over, I placed an order, she asked my room number, I said I was not a guest and she said ‘oh, well then I can’t serve you anything’ and just walked away without another word. The Ritz will let you eat at their restaurant, but not use any of the facilities in exchange for your expensive food and drinks. I took a date to Beach Suites once and we were asked to leave as soon as we had laid out our towels.

      When I was a child and preteen we would go to the Hyatt or the Westin (we had a charge account at the former), order drinks and lunches, use their complimentary towels, use as many chairs as we liked, rent a couple of jet skis – my parents would probably spend $400 on a beach day for us (the cost of a room for the night just to be there for 3-4 hours). It is not good enough now. Too many guests want the chairs, and complain of the beach being crowded and having to compete with other guests for chairs, so there is no amount of money you can pay.

      The Westin more recently was offering a $1000/year membership to its spa, which STILL did not allow beach access/chair use, and with a limited number of visits allowed per month to the spa itself.

      It is literally a case of their money is better than yours, and all of the hotels except the restaurants are off limits. If you want to enjoy the amenities, you have to get a room, then spend on top of that.

      • Anonymous says:

        The conduct you describe is unlawful and (for example) likely breaches the liquor licensing law and multiple other aspects of Cayman Law. It should not be accepted. No one should permit it. Stand your ground Cayman!

      • Anonymous says:

        You can pay a resort fee and they will then serve you. I don’t think a resort should be obligated to provide services to someone willing to buy coke and pour their own rum in it.

        • Anonymous says:

          Well they don’t train their staff to explain that then. If she had said ‘you can rent the chair and then I can serve you’, I’d still have gotten up, but wouldn’t have boycotted the hotel entirely. And I agree with you about someone buying coke and pouring rum into it; obviously, I make an argument based on what I would do, which is not that. I’m not cheap or dishonest.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well said.

    • Anonymous says:

      Kimpton allows this now. Rents cabana /. Beach chair or day room. $150 + for that!!

      • Anonymous says:

        Thats a good deal. Have you tried to build your own day room on the beach? It’s very expensive.

      • Anonymous says:

        It is not theirs to allow. The beach, from water to vegetation line, is available for the entire public’s peaceable enjoyment, at no charge.

        • Anonymous says:

          Please look at the law. That is not true.

          • Anonymous says:

            That is absolutely true. It is a prescriptive right enjoyed by all people in the Cayman Islands. The entire width of the beach from sea (yes sea, not ocean), to the vegetation line, is available for the peaceable enjoyment of everyone.

            It dates back to not only when the beach was used by generations for recreation, but also as the road connecting George Town to West Bay.

            Anyone crazy enough to try to move a Caymanian quietly enjoying the beach anywhere on SMB should be prepared for escalation. This crap needs to stop. No work permit ever granted allowed the holder to override core aspects of Caymanian Law, culture and society.

        • Anonymous says:

          but not their cabanas…

      • Anonymous says:

        Well, fair enough – what offends me (poster of above comment) is the notion there’s no amount of money you can spend; that you actually have to be a hotel guest. I don’t have a problem with them charging for chairs or better, because I can pay the money, or not – in this case, not. Food and drink was enough in my parents’ day; it should still be today.

  10. John says:

    I have lived here almost 40 years and never heard of anyone being told to move for just walking in front of a property.
    I have seen people being asked to move if they sit on beach chairs or swim in the pool paid for by either condo owners or a hotel.

    • Anonymous says:

      Lived here nearly 50 and have been told to not ‘hang out’ in front of complexes – not touching their precious chairs – and well below the high water mark. I own a unit at a different complex and was shocked by these illegal requests.

      • Anonymous says:

        Almost certainly made by expats on work permits. You understand how quickly the divide gets created. Foreign nationals kicking Caymanians off their own beach for no reason (not causing a disturbance etc.)?

  11. Anonymous says:

    “ publicly explain the real rights employees have ….”. You can explain the rights workers have until you are blue in the face. But in the real world they are valueless to expatriate workers in the face of the immigration regulations. For as long as the employer holds the work permit rather the employee, can object to the transfer of that work permit, and revocation of the permit means the employee has to leave the island their rights under the labour law are meaningless. Or is it just Caymanian workers you are concerned about?

  12. Jtb says:

    We have a perfectly good law on rentals which was passed a decade ago but has never been brought into force

  13. Anonymous says:

    Even Caymanian business owners prefer the extra repressive leverage of having expats that they can intimidate and threaten to send packing. It’s always been like this, sadly. It’s hardwired into the local business psyche. For some industries, it almost doesn’t matter how expensive the permit fees get if that servitude criteria is met. The Caymanian labour market is a bit late to appreciate that thinking cuts both ways.

  14. Anonymous says:

    65,000 people on a tiny rock. The number of serious issues and problems is mind boggling. How did you manage to create so many among such a small population?

    • Anonymous says:

      3.37pm We became successful and the place to be and as a result opened the floodgates and let in too many people too quickly..Just like in the Wild Wild West gold rush days chaos followed.

    • Anonymous says:

      How did we create all these serious problems? Look no further than our elections.

      Incompetent, unqualified, uneducated corrupt elected officials. Term after term after term we elect horrible officials. Elect clowns, expect the circus to come to town.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Ban airbnb

    • Anonymous says:

      Other than in designated tourist areas, perhaps.

      • Anonymous says:

        Like the pink zone in Mexico City? Only tourists in that area? Or along the Cancun hotel strip where the only locals that can enter are workers in the shops/hotels/restaurants?

    • Anonymous says:

      Airbnb (or any vacation rental) is the best chance for many locals to benefit directly from stayover tourism. Don’t have enough $ to buy a condo/property to rent short term yourself? Get a group together, form a microcompany that costs almost nothing, pool your money, borrow the rest and get it rented to tourists. You have now moved to the rarified air of being an investor.

      Maybe someone could do this on a larger scale by using small local investments and running as a larger corporation. I seem to remember this being Bo Miller’s plan before he left us.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Cayman government should require a living wage be paid to citizens willing to take the job before a foreigner can be hired.

    • Anonymous says:

      A Canadian will work on Grand Cayman for $6 an hour as a waiter, waitress or bar tender but a Caymanian will not. What is wrong with this picture?

      • Anonymous says:

        No, a Canadian will escape taxation and cold winters to work in Cayman for $4,000 + a month (advertised as 6.00 an hour in the Cayman press) and share a 2 bedroom apartment with 3 other Canadians. It is a blissful college-like existence without the cares of mortgages, children, car loans, and parents to take care of, well suited to young people “passing through.” It helps to be reporting to other Canadians.

        • Anonymous says:

          And the $4,000 a month is usually paid to a Caymanian owner.

          • Anonymous says:

            No, the Caymanian “owner” sometimes does not own anything and is paid $5,000 a year to allow their name to be used. Many of the people doing this are relatively recent status grantees. It is a crime, and easily provable, but the government refuses to enforce the law.

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s because of Canadakind. Canadian servers are nice to customer and get good tips, meaning they earn much more than $6 per hour. Most Caymanian won’t do nice to non-Caymanians because it’s beneath them.

      • Anonymous says:

        Caymanians don’t get the connection between good service and fat tips. One table of two should generate should generate an easy $20 in tips per hour.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hotels and Resturants. only pay 4:50 per hour, they should have the minimum wages of 6 p h plus the tips then many more Caymanian would work at the Hotels and restaurants

      • Anonymous says:

        Staying unemployed over $12 a day?

      • Anonymous says:

        No they wouldn’t.

      • Anonymous says:

        Being in the industry for years, alot of bars restaurants pay between $5.5 and $6ph and tips on top, these staff make over $200 in tips a shift.
        Hotels may pay less but look at their tipping system, so the minimum wage can’t be taken into account.

        What we forget is that back in the
        Late 70’s early 80’s, Caymanians were urged to go into banking and the finance industry, not tourism, thus the need for overseas workers.

        Over the years, we Caymanians have looked down and discriminated servers, bartenders (as a former server and bartender i experienced this personally alot), I made great money for a person in my 20’s and knew servers and bartenders making over 80kpa.
        All we look at is the hourly wage.

        Over the last 30 years many foreign workers have come here and are now Caymanians, they worked their asses off and now are very successful restaurant owners and alot of them give back 10 of 000’s a year to charities, sports teams, kids clubs and community

        There is fronting but government does nothing about it. There’s one company that comes to mind immediately but good for them. No caymanain wanted to start, invest or take the risk in opening these businesses

        If you want to talk about slave labour look at the small local bars in GT, BT, WB, who have all those Spanish lady’s working for them, they have to pay for their permits, they have to have their own petty cash and by the beer from the bar and then charge the customer, don’t ask about insurance or pension, don’t ask about their pay cheques.

        Lastly as for curtain hotels not welcoming locals, it is true, I’ve seen it on many occasions locals been turned away from these hotels over the years.

        What I love is all the hotels now are advertising for us to come stay for the weekend or week as there are no tourists but when they’re back we won’t be welcome back.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I work in tourism and Caymanians are also exploited to a certain extent also. We are told that we are lazy if we don’t want to work from 8:30am to 5:00pm Monday to Saturday without a day off. This industry for expats and Caymanians is not for the faint of heart and I cannot blame a Caymanian if they choose to work in another industry that values work/life balance much more than tourism. I too have searched and interviewed for other positions and when I let a recruiter know my hours, they are completely astonished. Thankfully management has changed in my place of work and I can now have a life and I am so much more appreciated and thanked for the work I do. It boils down to how this industry is run and the labor office should pay a lot more attention.

    • Anonymous says:

      So start a union for the tourism industry.

    • Anonymous says:

      8:30 – 5 is a normal workday, I highly doubt a recruiter was astonished by that.

      • Anonymous says:

        Mon-sat? That’s not fair.

      • Anonymous says:

        Dart expected 8 to 6 when they first set up office on island – with only 2 weeks vacation! They soon discovered that to get locals (& therefore permits for their imported American ‘experts’) they had to change their policies.
        If hotel work permits @$4.50 were denied then the hotels would have to offer $6 or more to get local staff. Supply & demand. It’s the readily available granting of permits that has resulted in low pay.

        • Anonymous says:

          You’re right that did change pretty quickly. What company really wants to be known as the worst place work or have a high turn over of staff.

      • Anonymous says:

        If don’t work in tourism you do not understand what it’s like nor how strenuous the hours are on your physical and mental health.

        Talk to people who work on Saturdays and they will tell you they get an automatic day off during the week. Law and Audit firms work long hours too, but look at their turnover of staff.

        I have an extremely good work ethic and have worked a lot of hours and had a maximum of 2 sick days a year, mostly being when my son was sick. I have shown up to work and put my best foot forward in the worst of situations so please do not downgrade my work ethic from me simply stating it’s hard industry and the hours are long.

        A work/life balance is important to get the most out of your staff and even the new management I’m working under now understands that. When the work load is shared fairly, then you can maintain a work life balance. I’m not coasting or complacent. Watch out I will be your boss one day, because I have been promoted and receive salary increases.

        You have to understand not everyone wants to be slave driven for very little pay. This happens to expats and Caymanians. Expats feel it too they just can’t be as vocal because they will be replaced.

    • Anonymous says:

      Quality of life is obviously very important. But if you want to be valued and hope to get raises or promotions you HAVE to be willing to work additional hours and put in extra effort. Coasting will get you no where and if you do that and still expect advancement then there is a bigger issue. If you’re willing to put in the time it will come back to you tenfold. Problem is, most people, especially younger people haven’t been raised with these work ethics.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Elementary, dear Watson!

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