CITA accuses PACT of stealing tourism hope

| 15/09/2021 | 220 Comments
Cayman News Service
CITA Meeting with members of Cabinet, May 2021

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) has said its members are “dismayed” by the announcement of the indefinite pause in the reopening plan and continued closure of the borders. Following the announcement yesterday that there will be no lifting of quarantine measures until the end of the year, the body representing private sector businesses in the tourism sector asked other community leaders to stand up and oppose the government’s abandonment of the reopening plan.

Accusing government of stealing future hope and prolonging the agony, the association said the decision demonstrated a complete disregard for thousands of Caymanians.

“It is incredibly disappointing that the Government has reversed course, responding to emotion and fear rather than remaining guided by sound logic and scientific evidence,” a statement signed by four members of the CITA executive stated.

Speaking at the press conference yesterday in answer to questions from CNS, Premier Wayne Panton said government had not yet discussed the decision to pause the reopening process with CITA, but he was aware that their main concern was that, whatever government decided to do, they wanted as much notice as possible.

Panton said he knew that this was not the best news but the sector now knows the opening is being paused. He did say that government will have to consider offering more support to businesses in the sector and extending the stipend and possibly even increasing it.

The reaction by the association was not unexpected. For many months President Marc Langevin, VP Michael Tibbetts and Treasurer Markus Mueri have all been vocal advocates for reopening the borders and lifting quarantine requirements.

But in the statement, which was also signed by CITA Executive Director Jay Ehrhart, they claim that tourism is now going to die as many tourism-dependent businesses will be forced to close because there will be no meaningful level of tourism in 2022. They claimed that it will take four to five years for the sector to recover, though they did not explain how they arrived at that conclusion.

They criticised government for an emotional and illogical response based on fear, saying it should not be a shock that the virus has reappeared as officials have been saying for some time that they expected it would be in the community at some point. They said that Cayman is more prepared to deal with it than many places and this decision undermines government’s confidence in its own plans.

“We have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. We have world class health professionals and first responders. Our Public Health Department has done a remarkable job and will continue to enhance their protocols,” the CITA executives said. “At some point, we must understand that we cannot escape COVID and closing the borders to visitors indefinitely will have disastrous long-term repercussions for the Cayman economy and the Caymanian people.”

The tourism leaders said there were several inconsistencies in the “government’s policy reversal”, particularly the decision to increase quarantine in the absence of vaccine mandates.

“The borders are now closed indefinitely, and the quarantine period increased, yet the government has not issued vaccination mandates for frontline workers, educators, and others at risk as many other countries have done. The Government has also not acted on opportunities to control and contain through combined layers of protective measures and the use of technology.”

The said they had recommended “measures such as rapid testing, smartphone-based contact tracing and vaccination requirements for large group gatherings”.

CITA accused government of making an “unsustainable policy choice of border closure” at the expense of “thousands of workers, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders” instead of targeted measures and policies specific to the proven threats.

The board also claimed that “returning residents inherently pose a much greater risk for community spread within their homes, workplaces, and churches than vaccinated visitors”. They said it didn’t matter when the borders reopen because community transmission of the virus has already occurred, and it wasn’t the result of tourism activity.

The organisation dismissed the risk to children, suggesting that they have less than a 1 in 50,000 risk for serious illness and less than 1 in 500,000 risk of death. They also said the risks for the vaccinated population are incredibly low, with the risk of hospitalization 1 in 20,000 and the risk of death 1 in 80,000, according to the latest CDC data. CITA said government should be reiterating these numbers to calm residents’ fears.

But the premier made it clear yesterday that the government was especially concerned about the risk to unvaccinated children.

Panton has said consistently that the decisions government is making are influenced by public opinion as well as the science and balancing risk. Allegations were being made that reopening would increase the threat to the Cayman community for purely economic reasons and the government has been accused of greed. He also noted that the advice government was getting was coming from the same place as the advice given to the previous government.

He explained that the community needed more time before we open because people are not prepared yet and government wanted to be more cautious and put in place stronger measures to control community spread.

See full statement from CITA in the CNS Library.

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Category: Business, Health, Medical, Tourism

Comments (220)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    “Stealing tourism hope” NO! Trying to save lives. You cannot have a livelihood if your dead, or if you cannot work because your lungs are shot to shit! First protect people and then protect jobs.

  2. Kevin says:

    What frustrates me to no end….

    Just like the next guy I want us to be able to open up. The difference between me and others screaming open up is simple.

    1. I do not believe our government or our people are prepared to reopen.
    2. I believe because of #1, we will lose lives and maybe many. 1 life lost is too much.
    3. The world outside is still very bad.

    Now I will expand.

    I do not believe our government or our people are ready

    Simple. Look at how much trouble a breach or several breaches are doing to us now. Imagine for a moment in stage 4 where there is no quarantine when 20 to 50 people per day are coming in with Covid. Imagine the sheer chaos at HSA. Also the people are not ready. Just today I visited China Village and their buffet. They are doing right and asking people to sanitize their hands as they enter but people are saying NO THEY WILL NOT TO IT. People who visit the buffet touch the styrofoam containers, door handles to the cooler, the handles of the utensils and the check out counter. This is a super-spreader situation and we are to open. I person going in there could infect 20-50 people then they take it home to their kids then kids to school.

    We the people and businesses are not prepared.

    2. We maybe okay now with this outbreak but imagine for a moment HSA having to deal with 20 or so outbreaks with multiple lines of tracing. All props to them they are doing the best they can but it will not be enough. It will be runaway train wreck here. Deaths will be a daily occurrence.

    3. The USA and in particular Florida is a hot mess. Until we can se some progress there all our efforts here could be for naught.

    What I want you all who believe in opening up top do is look around you at your friends, families and coworkers and ask “which one of you I can do without?”

    Until we get better at stuff and develop a better trap for the virus the best option is to stay closed a little longer until all our ducks are in a row.

    • Anonymous says:

      To gets ducks in a row, you need competence and people that have interests beyond their own political aspirations. All of which this government doesn’t possess.

      • Kevin says:

        To get ducks in a row you need competent prople able to listen and do as they are told.

        1. Get vaccinated
        2. Don’t breach quarantine
        3. Wear mask
        4. Sanitize your hands often.

        Until we can do the above we need to shut the hell up and deal with the man (or woman) in the mirror and stop blaming politicians who will get blame for deaths no matter if it was our stupidity ot their.

  3. Joey says:

    Is tourism more important than keeping people safe? In hospitals and otherwise overseas, COVID patients are fine one second, and dead the next. Imagine your loved ones in that situation so you can rethink your cold comments about reopening the borders.

    Kudos CIG, thank you for your foresight, remaining informed and making decisions that will keep families together in the long term.

    Disgruntled expats, GO HOME! Salute to the sensible, kind-hearted ones.

    • Ignoramus says:

      Stop making everything about expats! I’m Caymanian. Nothing has happened to cause the Govt to pause reopening. Whether they open tomorrow, next year or 2 years from now, we are still going to have to deal with local transmission of Covid.

      • Kevin says:

        But in 2 or 3 months Covid in the US and around the world might be more under control and we might be able to devise a better system or new technological advancements might be made.

        • Anonymous says:

          And covid will have mutated 5 times, effectively out running the technological advances we are supposedly waiting for.

  4. Nicholas Robson says:

    Living with Covid: Five countries that have decided it’s time to open up – CNN

    London (CNN) More than 18 months into the coronavirus pandemic, a number of countries have decided it’s time to open up and adopt a “living with Covid” model.

    Some have enviable vaccination rates; others have decided that the costs of continued economic and social restrictions outweigh the benefits.
    Here are five nations to watch closely for how their new strategies play out.


    If the PACT government is not going to open the country them the CIG must begin giving all Caymanians a minimum basic income. There is no such thing a a free lunch, certainly not here in the Cayman Islands!
    The knock on effects on no income is already noticeable with an increase in crime.

    • Anonymous says:

      4:45 get job in construction, there are plenty there, get rid of some of the expats there an put Caymanians to work.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The people pushing for the country to open up our gates to potential harm to our people, are the greedy millionaires who have gambled their own money. They have reeped the rewards for decades, destroying our land and beaches, and now cry because they can’t rent out their high priced hotel rooms. Shame on them! I see local businesses thriving now, and have recovered just fine without international vacationers. Let’s stay on course to make our community the top priority, and let the chips fall where they may for the gamblers.

    • Kevin says:

      Could not agree more. All these idiots need to do is look at Bermuda. 37 dead so far and 149 new infections. Old people use to say an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I have read a lot of the comments on here and it would leave one to think that Mark Langevin and the CITA board was elected to run the government instead of the current Government.

    One thing that has come out of this whole mess is that we can truly see where these people stand.

    A friend of mine from Europe shared with me, excitedly, an email he had received from is recruiter at the Ritz saying he will get the job but to hang on just a bit longer because the Cayman government was putting them under pressure to hire Caymanians and they were hoping that would change soon as the borders re-opened. This the kind of thing that really irks me because they continually say that Caymanians don’t want to work when they know damn well they don’t even want them there..

    Cayman has lost its true local flavor. If you look at the make up of that board you will see that many of them were former expats and the token one or two Caymanians are put there to ensure DART’s representation.

    We will get through this. Let’s use this time to get the booster shots for our elderly, and hopefully the FDA approves the vaccines soon for the kids and lets get our country open and thriving again.

    • Kevin says:

      I so love the sound of reasoning. Thank you thank you thank you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Very true. My educated to degree level Caymanian wife applied for an entry level position because she must wants to work ANYTHING. Not even an interview. They don’t want Caymanians, so obvious..

      • Anonymous says:

        I applied for an entry level government position….totally over qualified. Needed the money as I work in the Tourism industry. Called them twice!!! And never got any response at all, and I am a generational Caymanian….with a college education.

    • Anonymous says:

      Where did this FDA thing come into it? Dont know if you know but the Americans have nothing to do with us!

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with you 2:34 … until you started the “take the vaccine” song. Let me make it clear that I am not anti-vaccine but every Caymanian deserves to have a choice, not just one vaccine option. No one is asking the government to provide it for free but HSA and local physicians should be allowed to provide other options. I do not think that anyone is asking for it to be free and most everyone would be willing to pay. If the government would allow non mRNA vaccines I believe that if vaccines made in the traditional way was an available choice, then many more people would likely come forward and take it. The Sinopharm vaccine is one that I have heard people speak of but the government appears to be turning a deaf ear. Unfortunate.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Impose a no MLA salaries until Cayman is fully opened, and watch Cayman be opened by Friday, and their All-Caring Woke BS will go straight out the window.

    • Kevin says:

      Sorry bobo. We don’t extort policians for your pocket. We relish human life. Don’t like that. LEAVE!!!

      Don’t make the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya.

  8. Mikey says:

    don’t worry just take Two Jabs and everything will be back to normal Cayman LOL

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