PPM intensifies campaign against Bryan

| 31/07/2023 | 66 Comments
Cayman News Service
Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan

(CNS): The opposition party has escalated its campaign against Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan. In another message that is critical of the minister, PPM Leader Roy McTaggart said he doesn’t “seem to understand what is happening in Cayman’s tourism industry”. However, sources have told CNS that Bryan is well liked by some of the local CITA members as he navigates the choppy post-pandemic waters and is seen as more accessible than other PACT ministers.

Nonetheless, the Progressives have claimed that Bryan is underestimating the difficulties and challenges the sector faces and is ignoring the hardship of people who work in tourism. McTaggart said the ministry’s recent announcement about the boost in revenue from tourism taxes in the first six months of this year disguises the true picture, as he accused Bryan of spinning the numbers.

Explaining what he sees as the real lesson from the six-month revenue figures, he said, “The Cayman Islands stay-over tourism is down 16% when compared with 2019, and this country is currently at 16th place in the league table of 18 regional destinations.”

According to the figures that the ministry released last week, stay-over arrivals for the first six months of 2023 were 235,370, or 84% of the corresponding period in 2019.

McTaggart stated that this 16% gap was around 45,000 fewer visitors, who in 2019 were estimated to be spending around $1,814 per night. With inflation running at around 10% since then, boosting spending to around $2,000, a loss of 45,000 visitors meant that $90 million less was spent in the economy in the first half of 2023 compared with 2019.

“Couple those losses with the damaging effect of the decline in cruise visitors that the Progressives highlighted last week, and the impact on Caymanians with tourism
businesses and Caymanians working in the industry is significant,” McTaggart said.

“And while Caymanians in the real economy are suffering, the minister is boasting about government revenues. The reason why government revenues are up is not due to the minister’s efforts. Instead, it is a consequence of inflation,” he added, a point noted in a report on CNS last week.

“The reality is that visitor numbers are down from where they should be,” McTaggart said, repeating his point before taking aim at Bryan’s dual role of chairperson of the Caribbean Tourism Organization and Cayman’s tourism minister.

“Given the time that the tourism minister spends on regional issues rather than on fixing the obvious problems at home, he should have noticed that Cayman is receiving fewer stayover visitors when many of our regional competitors are ahead of their 2019 numbers,” the opposition leader said.

However, McTaggart did not reflect on the fact that Cayman was one of the last destinations in the Caribbean to re-open its borders, only lifting the last of the strict pandemic rules and restrictions in August of last year, which has impacted its recovery.

Cayman also has the reputation of being the most expensive destination in the region, which makes rebuilding its mass tourism more challenging as many travellers simply cannot afford to come here.

Islands such as Jamaica, Anguilla, USVI, Grenada and Aruba have surpassed their 2019 tourism arrival figures according to regional statistics, but many opened their borders and lifted all restrictions before Cayman. On the other hand, Trinidad and Cuba are well below their pre-pandemic visitor numbers because of their own unique challenges.

Another point that the PPM has not yet fully recognised is the growing public disquiet over tourist headcount. Given the negative impact that tourism is having on the environment and local infrastructure, many involved in the tourism sector, as well as residents not connected to tourism, want to see fewer tourists overall but more high-spending guests.

Indirect trickle-down from tourism has failed to make much of an impact on most people here, which taints the tourism product for those not working in the sector. It is also a source of frustration because, while a number of small business owners are dependent on tourism, a significant percentage of tourism workers are not local.

Cayman’s economy is far more dependent on the offshore sector, which fuelled the domestic economy during the pandemic and continues to be its main driver. Nevertheless, McTaggart was adamant that the government must address the decline in numbers “urgently and not gloss over the issue with throw-away statements”.

He said suggesting that tourism had surpassed expectations and was rebounding was misleading. “Our tourism performance may have surpassed Minister Bryan’s expectations, but we are lagging well behind many in the region. The government might be celebrating its revenues, but hard-pressed Caymanians in the tourism sector are paying the cost,” the Progressive leader said.

He also criticised Bryan for failing to re-imagine the future of cruise tourism, as those numbers drop, compounding the problem.

“Anyone can set a low target and then celebrate its achievement. As the former tourism minister, MP Moses Kirkconnell, recently advised in parliament, the tourism ministry should raise its tourism projections. We must be more ambitious for our tourism product. We need a tourism minister who sets ambitious goals and works hard to achieve them,” he said.

In his video message, McTaggart said that Cayman “must get away from the current pattern of unconnected initiatives and ill-thought-through policies”.

He said that during the last Progressive-led administration, stay-over tourism surpassed 500,000 visitors for the first time. “This is not to brag but to remind the minister that we understand what it takes to make Cayman Islands tourism successful. Listening to free advice may pay off for him,” McTaggart added.

This claim is undermined by the fact that the current PPM leader had stood firmly behind the cruise berthing project that was roundly rejected in the successful referendum campaign. McTaggart has not been clear about whether or not the PPM accepts the public opposition to a berthing facility or if the proposal could be resurrected under a Progressives-led administration.

See McTaggart’s video message in full below:


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Category: Business, Tourism

Comments (66)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    No one is going to come here if we don’t start dropping prices. I can literally bring food in from the USA with my other items and save money. That shouldn’t happen. If your buying in bulk you should be able to sell it for a better price than I can from Amazon. Don’t need to speak about Cryin Bryan. He’s not worth the effort any more.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Do tell Roy – what would the PPM do differently to get back to 2019 numbers for stayover visitors?

    The entire world is still in post-pandemic recovery mode and he is spitting hogwash as if our economy should be at pre-pandemic level barely two years after true normalcy has been regained.

    Every PPM-related news article is all negativity and criticism, it never gives solutions or suggestions and we the people are supposed to believe that if PPM was in power we would all be sleeping in beds of roses.

    PPM had almost two decades of power, and the people suffered under those tenures, ministers were rarely accessible or seen (except by the select few). And changes to education gave rise to the confusion and chaos our public education system has now. Voters, do not forget where we came from!

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  3. IcallBS says:

    I find it laughable that Op Leader chooses to state the reason why revenues are up is due to inflation.

    The PPM rode the wave of success and record breaking numbers in 2019 but did they attribute the rise in tourists between 2018 and 2019 to the massive decline in visitors to the Hurricane hit areas of the Caribbean being in recovery?

    Irma and Maria hit the Eastern Caribbean and left many of the islands with severe damage and years long recovery efforts needed which in turn boosted Caymans numbers.

    Read section 2 (pages 9-12) and see for yourself.
    https://wttc.org/Portals/0/Documents/Reports/2018/Caribbean%20Recovery%20Report%20-%20Full%20Report%20-%20Apr%202018.pdf?ver=2021-02-25-182520-540

    How hypocritical of the PPM to come out against Minister Bryan as he is navigating the recovery from a global pandemic the world had not seen in 100 years.

    I do not believe that any one person/group has all the answers, but you cannot expect the PACT to consider your “advice” with these continuous and overly dramatic attacks.

    Please sit down Mr McTaggart, story time is over.

    Bryan is not as fool-fool as many people think. And it’s clear that Roy believes he’s capable and gaining power and popularity above many MPs. Otherwise the PPM would not be attacking him so often trying to discredit him for their own political gain.

    We see the PPM for what it is. Wolves in sheep’s clothing.

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    • Anonymous says:

      when you accept that most politicians are scummy people then their scummy tactics don’t surprise you as much.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, they do have one trait that I really dislike “Taking everything that they can, then smiling about it!” No thanks, fellows! You have done too much damage already!!!

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Google says it all….. and Kenny’s CIG profile states he was a fire man in 1997. But yet he was cocaine dealer in 2004. I’m sure he didn’t snort it.

    Two young men with no previous convictions were sentenced last week to 90 days imprisonment for supplying cocaine during a police operation at nightclubs in 2004. Emil Terry and Kenneth Bryan pleaded guilty to the charges after Mr. Justice Alex Henderson found that there had not been any entrapment by the police.

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  5. Mary says:

    Airline charges are partly responsible for decline in stayovers. We paid almost double this year as opposed to prior years. Also look at the hotel rates. With resort fees, service fees and taxes many “entry level” (ie view of West Bay Road)rooms are over $1000 a night. While the most recent visitors are paying higher hotel rates (tired of covid restrictions and eager to travel) eventually those visitors will looks for cheaper locales for their next trip and the next tier of upper/middle class won’t even come for a stay but look elsewhere to begin with. Stayovers put a lot of $$ into the economy, certainly more than cruisers and probably don’t contribute a huge burden to infrastructure. While CIG wants to target high net worth tourists, the middle/upper class may be a more lucrative one.

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  6. Joyceann says:

    I am so sick and tired of these conversations. When you all was in. Power, what did you all do for so many years?
    While you all playing politrick. People are out there suppering for years and you all never paid them any attention,when they seek your help. All of a sudden you all have the solution to the problems.
    If you have the solutions to the problems we face why don’t you call Minister Bryan, ask if he would be interested in some advice. You all should be working together for the betterment of the Cayman Islands. We did not elect you all to be fighting like cat and dogs and take social media to look good.
    We are all in this together and most of the time it’s the people that are effected.
    We open late, we start back late and all of that should be taken into account.
    Move on and do all the good you can do with a sincere heart… That’s the way for all of us to shine…no hidden agenda. God bless the Cayman Islands and all of the Government of these Islands with wisdom.

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  7. The Truth Committee says:

    He should have never been there in that position in the first place. It’s not his area of expertise. We need someone to walk in the shoes of former tourism ministers Jim Bodden and Thomas Jefferson who did many things for our tourism industry. I challenge anyone to read about the great works these men did to put this country on the map and as tourism ministers then compare it to anything Kenneth Bryan has done.All he’s doing is keeping the seat warm, remaining relevant, showing face, and collecting a paycheck he didn’t earn. He may appear to be a poster child for that role but he doesn’t cut the mustard folks.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Buckle up folks. He’s going to hang around like a bad smell for a long time and will be a source of embarrassment for years.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    If you go down on the dock when cruise ships are in you will see 90% of the people are Caymanians and 90% of the foreigners working in tourism have been here for 20 years. You call it what you like but there are over 4,000 people who depend on cruise tourism for their living or a big part of it.

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  10. Caymanian says:

    For those who believe that more and more tourism is a good thing, why don’t you give this a read…..

    https://www.nytimes.com/2023/08/01/world/europe/venice-unesco-world-heritage-danger-list.html

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  11. Anonymous says:

    caymanians elect these people so you have no-one else to blame but yourselves.
    and to make things worse, you also prevent the most qualified and successful people on island from being elected…
    welcome to wonderland.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    in any other 1st world country, kenny would have been sacked by years ago for gross incompetence.
    but here it is just another day in wonderland.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Roy and Kenneth are examples of how bad politics have become here! The dinosaur versus the wannabe know it all. We are doomed because the electorate will only vote for one of the above! It’s all about popularity not ability!

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Kenneth Bryan is “well liked” by CI Tourism Association because he’s so clueless and egotistical, he’s an easy puppet for them.

    Case-in-point, CAL’s new Barbados route. It was done just to reciprocate his appointment as Chair of Caribbean Tourism Organization…trying to impress the educated Caribbean leaders.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Kenny doesn’t know what he is doing ?

    Wow what a surprise !

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  16. Anonymous says:

    Maybe we could count returning residents as tourists.
    Oh wait we did that before and it didn’t work out well for the DOT Director but she is doing good now!

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Kenneth is an uneducated buffoon

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    • Anonymous says:

      He is also a self serving populist hungry for money and power from whoever gives it to him.
      In this case it’s his mindless voters, Saunders, Seymour, Mac and their Jamaican followers.
      You really want to live in THAT Cayman..?

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    • Anonymous says:

      This is why he is representing those in his district. People like to vote for people like themselves. THIS. IS. THE. PROBLEM.

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    • Anonymous says:

      He has more formal education and qualifications than Joey Hew the Progressives shadow minister for Tourism who seems to have become an expert on all things

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Since Cayman Airways don’t fly to Chicago any longer UA/AA have no price competition on direct routes and charge arm and leg for tickets. Perhaps that explains missing 16%.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You do know CAL set the minimum price don’t you?
      Otherwise Miami would be much cheaper.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman air and hotels have become too expensive. People can find a beach, hot weather, nice people, safe area for less money and an island that still looks like an island. Cayman has lost it’s charm.

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      • Anonymous says:

        The transformation to a playground only for the rich is almost complete.

        At this point, it cant be an accident.

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  19. Anonymous says:

    What happened to Bryan’s floating cruise dock he waxed lyrical about?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Same place electric busses are

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      • Chris Johnson says:

        Good point. They were coming via Barbados on Cayman Airways. In
        my opinion we need bus stops before we bring in bigger buses. Has NRA thought of that. Clearly Bryan has not

  20. Anonymous says:

    Statistics don’t lie, but lairs use statistics.

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  21. Elvis says:

    Neither of u are fit for the position lets be honest here

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  22. Anonymous says:

    Kenneth Bryan, take down your illegal billboards or the collective will deface them. They are a farce, unfair, against regulations and only serve to keep your face in the simpleton’s minds for election time.

    You have been warned.

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  23. Anonymous says:

    Kenny seems to be asserting himself as the presumptive heir to whatever can be scraped together of the UDP/CDP. Awful

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  24. Anon says:

    Cayman is not a tourist holiday place a never should be. It is a British territory and finance hub. We need to reduce tourism.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You need to aim for the right tourism. Single professionals, repeat guests, families and honeymooners should be your target. Forget the high end and forget the party crowd. Nothing to attract either.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Tourism is about ten per cent of the cayman economy. Why so much air time?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Votes. Taxi drivers, water sports and stingray tours.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Not sure that explains it. There are very few Caymanians driving taxis, helming water sports boats, or performing stingray tour work. This low-paid stuff is almost entirely foreign permit workers now. Even the bus drivers are mostly foreign. So who is it for?

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  26. Anonymous says:

    Surely any expat who earns good money and pays for the territory that is cayman could escalate against any cayman politician? They are all very bad at their jobs.

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    • Realist says:

      1. Expats can’t engage in politics: even if they have status, they can’t stand for election. If they don’t have status, they can’t risk annoying people and losing their work permit.

      2. No capable, hardworking and intelligent Caymanian would sensibly enter politics here because that would cripple their life chances. Being trapped in any location is a risk, particularly a tiny one like Cayman. Anyone sensible will therefore pursue a profession which gives them global opportunities, e.g. IT or accountancy. By such choices, the top e.g. 50% of Caymanians self-select out of politics.

      3. This is why Caymanian politicians are so uniquely awful (specifically: definitely incompetent, probably corrupt, often criminal). They have effectively excluded anyone decent from power. This then exacerbates the problem identified at (2): capable, hardworking and intelligent Caymanians see the direction of travel, and are determined to keep their options open, focusing on global skills not local politics.

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  27. Anonymous says:

    there are very few Caymanians in the industry. Mctaggart must be referring to the wealthy owners who are paying slave wages being down in profit….

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    • Anonymous says:

      What an asinine and ill informed comment. Your saying tourism don’t matter?

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      • Anonymous says:

        It doesn’t really. Not in Cayman at this time. Trying to paint economic equivalence to finance, or rank it as a top GDP priority, is as misplaced as suggesting that Caymanians are somehow benefiting from continuing this heavily-subsidized lie.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Not as much as Finance.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Numbers do not lie. It looks like both of you manipulating it.

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  29. Anonymous says:

    This tiny island cant handle an more tourists as a matter of fact we need to get rid of some residents

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    • Anonymous says:

      The more power KB gets, the faster your wishes will come true.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Nope, you’ll get more residents – but not working in the financial services industry. Even if the financial services industry goes to hell, the economy and country is still way more attractive than some of our neighbours

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    • Anonymous says:

      So true!!!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Government is hell bent on breaking 100,000. Do you really think they care about what the electorate think?

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