TravelCayman struggling with demand

| 12/10/2020 | 158 Comments
Graphic by CIG

(CNS): The transition to the new system handling those wishing to return or visit Cayman has not gone smoothly. TravelCayman is also struggling to cope with the increase in demand from property owners and others with connections to the island who want to visit. CNS has heard numerous complaints from people who have spent hours in phones queues or who have only learned on the eve of their hoped-for departure they have been cleared to come.

Premier Alden McLaughlin has confirmed that inbound travel for this month is already at capacity and travellers will now have to wait until November for the next availability.

But people dealing with medical emergencies, those worried about reconnecting with family and other challenges have told CNS that their experience with TravelCayman has added to their anxieties.

They described being on hold on the phone for hours repeatedly without speaking to anyone and having to try for days on end. Others have also been left wondering what to do when the day before their proposed journey they had still not heard back, only to be told hours before their flight that they were cleared.

However, at the press briefing on Friday the premier took aim at those who “expect perfection”, in response to queries by CNS about the situation in regards to the new system and how many people are employed to deal with property owners, workers, residents, family members and others who are now permitted to come to Cayman in the first phase of the border reopening, which began this month.

McLaughlin said the team was trying its best to address the applications but the return capacity for October was full.

“No matter how hard we work, no matter how much we do, there are going to be occasions when operations… or something falls short of the mark. That’s just the way it is,” the premier said, as he asked for continued patience during these trying times.

The premier also explained that government was comfortable with Cayman Airways being the competent authority for Travel Cayman, despite the need to manage border control and quarantine issues as well as clearing people to travel on British Airways and private jets.

McLaughlin said he had been given assurances that CAL could manage this and they have plenty of experience dealing with travel arrangements.

He said that while the tourism ministry and the deputy premier will have ultimate control of the team, his chief officer, Eric Bush, will also be part of the oversight, despite a press release last week indicating that the premier’s ministry of international trade would no longer have any responsibility for this area.

Despite the confusion surrounding who is managing TravelCayman, the premier said Cayman Airways had the “bandwidth” and capacity to handle the project and it had been a struggle to find and deploy staff from elsewhere during the crisis.

“We have got to utilize staff that have the bandwidth, space and time to do it,” he said, adding that, after some negotiations with the national airline, TravelCayman has fallen to them. He said he had been “given the necessary assurances” that CAL was the appropriate agency.

McLaughlin confirmed that the inbound travel has reached capacity for October and no new applications will be accepted. Applications already received are in the system and travellers will be contacted regarding the status of those applications.

He explained that applications are prioritised on a weekly basis for the next week’s travel. He said that another new portal is being developed to speed up the application and approval system and will be launched in the coming weeks.

Travellers who are planning travel in November and beyond who have not already applied are asked not to apply yet to allow October travellers to be processed and get their information to them.

See here for the most up to date information on travel requirements to the Cayman Islands.

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Category: Business, Transport

Comments (158)

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  1. Shaun Bamber says:

    Our brother unfortunately passed away in August we have already missed the funeral but need to lay him to rest,trying to get over to Georgetown is virtually impossible.I understand the pressure the system is under in these extraordinary times but there seems to be no one to turn too,traveltime has buckled under immense pressure and there doesn’t seem any light at the end of the tunnel.Hope this gets sorted soon so people can get back to trying to get through normal everyday Covid restrictions.I feel genuinely sorry for the people who have been trying hard to make the rules for this unprecedented situation but wish someone would grab it by the scruff of the neck and shake the procedures up so that it works better for everyone.

  2. Anonymous says:

    So I am flying tomorrow, Thursday on the BA flight back to Cayman. It’s 10.45PM at night in the UK and I still don’t have the letter clearing us to travel…

    CNS: The rest of this comment is posted here.

  3. Anonymous says:

    just make everyone(expats & locals) pay for hotel quarantine if they want to travel. too many people traveling for bogus reasons…i.e dropping off 16 year old kids to boarding school.
    this sytsem will also give a much needed boost to the local hotels

  4. Anonymous says:

    PLEASE CNS… can you try to get an update on TravelCayman since no one else seems to be able to? Those who need to travel for urgent medical care are being left in limbo.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Despite some of the hurdles being experienced by various individuals, the government has made some very difficult decisions and which some has also saved the lives of people in this country. While it has also been clear for people wanting to travel it should be essential (medical, compassionate purposes) and not used and abused as a vacation or shopping opportunity, some individuals take advantage of the opportunity. Maybe if those individuals had to pay for their quarantine upon return this might be reconsidered

    • Jody says:

      1. Have an email ticket system like freshdesk to manage and confirm emails have been received

      2. Have local international phone numbers, calls to Cayman cost 35 cent per minute from the UK with 3-4 hour hold times.

      3. More staff to answer calls or at least use a call answering service. There’s 30 + calls in the queue all day.

      4. Keep local staff working 8am till 8pm as a minimum, call answering 24/7

      By not having any of the above has just created more panic and more customer contacts to deal with.

      I could fix all these issues within a few hours, For very little cost.

      During the COVID shutdown my business handled 30 million calls a month.

      I arrive on Thursday, wish me luck

    • Anonymous says:

      2 hours and 15 min on hold from 34 got to number one and they cut me off. UNBELIEAVABLE.

    • Anonymous says:

      CIG made one easy decision, close the border. The hard part came after that and at almost every stage since the response has been wanting.

      I almost think some of them want the economy to get worse so they can spend all the money they are ready to borrow on various projects and giveaways.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The Cayman Airways website is open for bookings in December. So I booked and paid for my flight and luggage. Let them sort their $4!t out and deal with me! I put in my application to Travel Time and Travel Cayman and have not had any response since end of July. Ready or not here I come!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Invest in Cayman, buy a home, but we won’t allow you to come here.

  8. Anonymous says:

    This initiative is clearly off to a bad start. Adequate resources (public, private or a combination) need to be allocated to get this process on track and quickly. It is simply not acceptable to expect your citizens and residents to wait until the last minute to know if their travel and quarantine plans are acceptable. It completely confuses me to think that anyone would think otherwise. Flights need to be booked and accommodations dealt with. It would also be useful if there was some acknowledgement that not everyone is travelling to and from the UK – there are legitimate travel needs from other jurisdictions as well.

    Let’s go back to square one: Cayman has to make arrangements for Caymanians and other legal residents to come home as a matter of priority. Period. Get that process working efficiently and give them adequate notice of approval to make their plans. Property owners can come next if there’s sufficient resources to process them too. Everyone who wants to bring their parents to spend winter in Cayman…I understand that, but in these complicated times visitors have to take a back seat to the needs of our residents and property owners.

    I’m fortunate that I am able to put off my plans to come home until things are more certain, but I truly feel for those who are stuck in no man’s land – away from home, needing to return but mired in a bureaucratic and stressful mess.

    • Anonymous says:

      CNS, can you ask government if priority will be given to students wanting to return for the holidays? It would be so sad if they can’t be with their families at that time. I agree with 12:33 pm that priority should also be given to Caymanians and legal residents before visitors.

      • Anonymous says:

        We have Caymanian parents who went on BA flights in summer to drop their children at Univ. still waiting to return. Bring them home first.

      • Anonymous says:

        I think it’s unreasonable to expect to be allowed to “come home for the holidays” and add extra stress to this already broken system. These are not normal times everybody, we can’t expect normal things. If you’re not coming here to stay, stay where you are until things change. We can get through this together, but it will take time

  9. Anonymous says:

    Called 8.45. Placed in queue as number 33. Wait for an hour and 39 minutes to reach top of queue. Phone rings once, then plays an error message saying that there are technical difficulties and asking me to call back later.

    Total and utter farce.

  10. Anonymous says:

    When did Cayman Airways become a competent public health authority? It’s a weird admission when the CIG has gone to such great lengths to try to persuade us, all these years and hundreds of millions in subsidies later that, it’s not a government employment ministry for the unhirable. Imagine our surprise to learn it’s not an airline!

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