Major tour operators and taxi drivers clash

| 09/02/2010

(CNS): Complaints by bus and taxi drivers about major tour operators unfairly monopolising the bulk of the cruise ship business have been refuted by one large firm in a statement to the media. Following a petition submitted to government by bus drivers complaining about the major firms bringing in larger buses to take the business, Island Tours has stated that it is not licensed to operate anything more than nine buses with a maximum of 44 seats and it is not undercutting prices. The issue has come into focus again as smaller operators feel they are being excluded from the possibility of taking passengers to the new TIki Beach Resort on Seven Mile Beach due to open later this year.

Island Tours Ltd said that accusations made in the media regarding the developers of the new Tiki Beach Resort on Seven Mile Beach — Resort Sports who were said to be bringing in more buses and unfairly taking business from local drivers were not true.

Island Tours Ltd. said while the firm had not been specifically named, as one of the transportation service providers to the Tiki Beach destination, the owners said they wanted to address the accusations of undercutting on transport prices.

“The majority shareholders of Island Tours are Nigel Mitten and Ronnie Anglin. Both are Caymanian entrepreneurs who have been in the tourism business, in ground transfers and island tours, as well as in water sports, for more than 30 years,” the firm’s statement read.

“While the company does have a minority shareholder, which is a subsidiary of Dart Enterprises Ltd., Mr. Mitten and Mr. Anglin control and are responsible for the operation and management of the business on a day to day basis. Island Tours recently entered into a non-exclusive contract with Resort Sports Limited (owners of Tiki Beach). Based upon Mr. Mitten’s and Mr. Anglin’s knowledge of the rates in the transportation market, they confirm that their rate with Resort Sports Ltd. does not undercut the current market prices,” the tour operator added.

Pointing to accusations  over 70-80 seat buses,  Island Tours confirmed that it is licensed and approved by the Public Transport Board to operate a fleet of no more than nine, forty-four seat buses.

“Forty-four seat buses are not new to the island as buses of this capacity have been in operation in Public Transport going back for many years and have been in use by multiple operators in the industry,’ the firm stated.

 “We know that our buses are unique on island in their appearance however not in their seating capacity. The focus of Island Tours is to provide a high quality of service and guest experience for our cruise and stay over visitors. When selecting a bus model we selected something that would both comply with the laws of the Cayman Islands and raise the bar in the industry,” Island Tours wrote in its statement.

Disputes between the smaller operators and the larger firms regarding the distribution of cruise tourism business are nothing new. The major tour operators and the public transport board has often been in conflict with the Land and Sea Cooperative Society which was formed in 2001 to protect local taxi operators and help them compete with tour operators by sharing the bookings among all the members.

Over recent years however, bookings by the cruise ships with the society have steadily declined due to alleged complaints by passengers regarding the quality of service and prices. Various meetings under the previous government attempted to address some of the problems and establish standards for the cooperative, but the complaints and counter allegations continue.

 

Category: Local News

Comments (18)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I agree with some of the other comments, if the taxi drivers were not overpriced, people would be more inclined to use them. I live in a complex which is mainly used for tourists and on numerous occasions I have had taxi drivers try to overcharge me until I tell them that I live here and know how much it should be and they suddenly back down, not exactly a nice thing to do to visitors to the island. Put meters in the taxis!!!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Car Rental — the sensible alternative:

    I knew exactly how much it would cost me.  I could go whereever, whenever I wanted.

    I remembered taking a cab once before from the Wharf back to the Westin and being charged some random fare.

    With a rental car I have enjoyed driving to the botanical park and seeing the iguanas, relaxing at Rum Point, admiring the view near Breakers, going to the grocery store and loading up, driving to snorkeling sites, driving into George Town to shop and watch all the cruise ship tourists stumble about.

    I knew that I had not been drinking when I drove.

    I knew exactly where I was going.

    It is not that hard to find your way on this small island.

    As an aside, why can’t one buy a bottle of wine at 7:02 pm on a weeknight to enjoy with family with grilled steak and salad??

     

  3. Anonymous says:

    the only way to solve the taxi’s ripping everybody off is METERS in the cars!!!!!!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Three words, meters, meters ,meters.

  5. Anonymous says:

    So I believe the same rules of business applies here as well:

    If you offer polite, reliable and professional servicesat a reasonable rate, you should have no worries as you should also have built up a good amount of local regulars and not need to rely on tourism alone.

    If your bus and you look like crap, and you are too lazy to get any other business and are just sitting next to the cruise ship facilities waiting for customers to come up to you without you having to lift a finger or doing anything to stand out , then yes, you should probably be worried right about now.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I totally agree about the outrageous taxi fares on this island. It’s been going on for years and no-one does anything. I’ve been charged in a range of CI$17 (2 passangers) to CI$80 (4 passengers) for the exact same 5 mile journey.

    Every other country in the world seems to manage to regulate taxis, why can’t we?

  7. Anonymous says:

    It’s not just the taxi drivers that rip you off, it is the bus drivers as well. We had family staying with us last week and they decided to get the bus to town. On their 1st trip (from opposite the new Tiki bar to town) it cost them $2 each.

    The following day they got the bus from public beach to town. There was another man in the bus going back to the cruise ship. The bus driver charged the man $10, and when he tried to charge our family that they refused stating that only the previuos day it had cost them $2.

    Something needs to be done about properly regulating both taxi & bus fares. Something also needs to be done about offering buses at night.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Read the last paragraph of the article again, perhaps if those who really dont care about customer service were (no pun intended) driven out then perhaps ,atters may change.   There are a small number of honest, hard working taxi drivers – the competition however for what is seen as "easy money" – you just have to sit down all day and not really do too much of anything – is too much.    Going back to my opening comment, it seesm that the "generic taxi" drivers only have themselves to blame for the position they may find themselves in. 

  9. Anonymous says:

    heres a tip I learned from a taxi driver the other day – ask the taxi driver for a receipt. they have to give you one…and not just a piece of paper either with thier signature on it – an actual receipt. If youre being unfairly charged they will most likely fix that price immediatley. If they continue to charge you unfairly then you can take the reciept to the transportation board and that taxi driver will lose thier taxi license.

    it just too bad that i didnt figure this out until after i was charged $50 to go from crows nest beach to marina drive. 🙁

    • Anonymous says:

      Or just don’t pay what they ask for.  If the taxi driver does not agree a specific fee at the start of the journey you only need to pay him (or her) a reaonable fee.  Pick what you think is reasonable, hand it over and get out. 

      It is amazing how many "$50 fares" have become $20 fares using this method.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for the tip!!!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    heres a tip I learned from a taxi driver the other day – ask the taxi driver for a receipt. they have to give you one…and not just a piece of paper either with thier signature on it – an actual receipt. If youre being unfairly charged they will most likely fix that price immediatley. If they continue to charge you unfairly then you can take the reciept to the transportation board and that taxi driver will lose thier taxi license.

    it just too bad that i didnt figure this out until after i was charged $50 to go from crows nest beach to marina drive. 🙁

  11. Anonymous says:

    Well when Chuckie suggested to the taxi drivers that they needed to organise themselves into one group and they would be the biggest "tour operator" on the island and wouldn’t have these issues…..they said Chuckie wasn’t protecting them and they wanted Mac back.

    Well they got him back……Now what ???

    Same problems eh !!! Stop waiting for the Minister of the day to solve your problems and follow Chuckie’s advice and organise yourselves………you all are too damn lazy…….thats the problem !!!

  12. Caymanian at Heart says:

    I have no pity for the taxi drivers at all.  I swear Cayman must be one of the only places in the world where sharing a taxi actually costs the group more money. 

    We need properly metered taxis, big Mac you ay you want to end the notion that Cayman is filled with piracy – start here!

  13. Anonymous says:

    after years of robbing tourists and locals…..finally the parasitic taxi drivers are getting whats coming to them……. hope it puts most of them out of business for good, followed by de-regulation of the industry by gov