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News from Cayman - February 2007

Travel & news discussion about the Cayman Islands

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News from Cayman - February 2007

Postby gotocayman » Sun Mar 11, 2007 5:48 pm

==February 2007==

More changes at Cayman Airways Ltd (CAL), this time on their reservation system. The airline have implemented Sabre, the world's number one computerized travel reservation system, used by travel agencies worldwide to book airline tickets, rental cars, hotel reservations, etc.

The new reservation system brings a host of new functionality to the airline and its
passengers including a vastly improved Sir Turtle Rewards Frequent Flyer Program.

Acting CEO Thom Guyton is confident CAL's customers will be pleased, "This new system will greatly improve our customer services by streamlining all travel processes, from ticket sales to passenger check-in."

Sabre Holdings, the parent company for the Sabre online reservations system, also owns the popular Travelocity web site. According to Scott MacLaren, CAL Project Manager for the system, "Sabre has already worked out how to integrate the reservation systems with websites. We can leverage that technology rather than develop it ourselves, enhancing our own customers' experience on the CAL website."

Cayman Airways have also announced that they have filled two of the top posts in the company. Patrick Strasburger has been appointed as CEO and John Wrightington as VP Commercial. Strasburger is a veteran airline executive from the United States with previous roles as Managing Director for International Operations and Cargo for Continental Airlines and Vice President of Airport Services with Spirit Airlines.

John Wrightington is also an airline veteran, most recently working as Managing Director Network Management for Caribbean Star Airlines. Wrightington will be responsible for all commercial aspects such as Sales, Distribution, Promotion, Product, Network Management and the Cargo Department.

The Board continues its work to fill the vacant post of VP Finance.

The Economic and Statistics Office has started work on the National Assessment of Living Conditions Survey. Director of the Economics and Statistics Office, Maria Zingapan explained that this is the first time the NALC will conduct a survey of living conditions in the Cayman Islands. "This study is important to improving our statistical systems in meeting regional and international standards".

A total of 1,900 households were randomly selected for the survey. Apart from a 22-page questionnaire, each household is given two 'diaries of expenses' to fill within two weeks. Ms Zingapan said the dairy of expenses is also a very crucial part of the survey. "It is the basis for estimating the cost of living in the Cayman Islands".

The Cayman Islands is the last member of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to undertake the NALC survey. Results of the survey will be published later in the year.

We tend to think that cruise ships are a recent introduction to the Cayman Islands, but February saw the 70th anniversary of the first cruise ship to visit Cayman. On 22 February 1937, 340 passengers aboard the RMS Atlantis visited Grand Cayman. The visit was recorded in the Jamaican Gleaner; "The ship started its voyage on 17 February from Southampton via Casa Blanca, the Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, La Guayara and Cristobal with mail and cruise passengers. On the 18th it stopped in Jamaica. A day later it sailed for Santiago de Cuba, returning to Montego Bay on Sunday morning and sailing in the afternoon for Cayman Islands, Havana, Miami, Nassau, San Juan, St. Lucia, Antigua, Madeira and Southampton. The Atlantis left Montego Bay at 7 p.m. for George Town, Grand Cayman." The report added . "At 9:30 a.m. they [passengers] came ashore taking sightseeing trips and indulging in sea bathing and fishing. People from every district came down to the waterfront to view the big liner which sailed at 6:30 p.m. for Havana." Even back then the passengers were able to buy souvenirs of their visit. According to a report by the Commissioner of Cayman at the time, the visitors were able to "... bathe in the sea, sit in deck chairs on the beach under sunshades. They were regaled with rum cocktails, beer, and ice cream. Souvenirs of various kinds were on sale: tortoiseshell, sharkskin, and thatch-work, specially made picture postcards. and Spanish gold and silver coins said to have been recently unearthed in Cayman Brac."
To mark the anniversary a special commemorative cover has been produced by the Cayman Islands Postal Service.

Initial results into the use of wind turbines to generate power on Caqyman Brac look promissing. An anemometer to measure wind speed was installed on the Government communications tower on the Bluff at the start of the month. On the first day of testing, it measured average wind speeds of 18 to 20 miles per hour at a height of around 250 feet above sea level, which is well above the 14 miles per hour average wind speed required to make wind turbines feasible. Readings from this device as well as historical data gathered by the Cayman Islands Civil Aviation Authority at Gerrard-Smith Airport will be sent later in the year to a firm in the US who specialise in analysing wind speed data. From all this data their analysts should be able to make reliable estimate of the average wind speeds on the Bluff over the last ten years, and from that make predictions for future wind speeds.

According to Cayman Brac Power and Light (CBP&L) General Manager Jonathan Tibbetts, "We're hoping to complete the study by the end of the year. Obviously this is a huge project for a little company and we want to make sure the decisions made will benefit the customers, who will eventually get their electricity at a lower rate".

Legislation has been now passed that establishes the Cayman Islands Society of Professional Accountants (CISPA) as the official regulators for their own industry. The CISPA will be the first private-sector organisation to take responsibility for monitoring, licensing and disciplining its own members and those practicing public accounting. The organisation is the largest professional association in Cayman with 850 members, 15 of which were elected to form a governing council. This council consists of four officers and 11 members from various companies such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and Deloitte.

Law firm Mourant announced its intention to merge with Quin & Hampson. All of the partners of Quin & Hampson will form part of a new Mourant partnership in Cayman and the employees of Quin & Hampson will transfer to Mourant. In addition Mourant is acquiring Q&H Corporate Services, Ltd., the corporate services affiliate of Quin & Hampson.

Subject to regulatory approval, joint operations will begin by the end of April 2007 and Quin & Hampson will rebrand as Mourant with effect from Monday 1 October 2007.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts announced the establishment of a Constitutional Review Secretariat to start work on reviewing Cayman's constitution. Mr. Tibbetts said the Government had a timeline in mind to achieve the new constitution.
"We would wish for the process to be completed as soon as possible, but we're not going to… rush and not do it properly." The Constitutional Review Secretariat will be charged with establishing the campaign to educate and consult with the public on the issue. Mr Tibbets expects a national referendum to be held on the issue before the next elections.

Amendments to the Marine Conservation Law were published in February. One of the amendments is in a new paragraph that reads: "The Governor [in Cabinet] may make regulations prohibiting or regulating (i) touching or feeding of or other human interaction with marine life of a prescribed kind or description; and (ii) the promotion or use of any area of land or waters as a place where such interaction is invited, encouraged or facilitated."
Additionally, the Governor in Cabinet is authorised to regulate the use of vessels in Cayman Islands waters whether or not within a restricted marine area or marine park. Among the ways this regulating can be achieved are issuing of licences and scheduling of journeys on the location.
Another insertion into the law allows creation of regulations authorising fisheries officers to stop and enter vessels.

I haven't seen any comments about these changes, but to my mind this could Government power to ban the proposed dolphin swim encounters.

Another amendment to existing laws now allow the Governor to exempt expat workers from the rollover policy by designating them as "key employees".
"In issuing policy directions in relation to the designation of persons as key employees, the Governor [in Cabinet] shall have regard to the following criteria: (a) there is a global shortage of persons in that profession or vocation; (b) notwithstanding the absence of a global shortage, there is a difficulty in attracting or retaining a particular professional category or sub-category in the Cayman Islands; or (c) there is a desire to attract certain types of business in the islands."

The change gives the Governor and the rest of the Cabinet, for the first time, the power to exempt entire categories of employees from obligatory departure from the Cayman Islands after the expiry of a seven-year term limit.

Government is looking at making sure that there are suitable boat ramps in the George Town area into North Sound. This has been highlighted in the wake of a number of serious medical emergencies at Stingray City/Sandbar.
The Marriott Beach Resort is working with the Department of Environment (DoE) and visiting US–based Reef Ball Foundation to protect the reef. The DoE is also working on a reef ball project to help restore locally devastated red mangroves by planting more than 800 reef ball units containing thousands of mangrove seedlings.
DoE Assistant Director Tim Austin said "With approximately 860 'reef balls' of seedlings planted in pots made out of marine–based cement (Ph balanced for marine environments), the young mangroves are protected against storms and have a better chance of surviving."
"We are hoping to establish this as a technique to restore other areas that were damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004". The areas under consideration include North Side Public Beach and South Sound.
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