Archive for September 8th, 2008

Tourism trainees get to work

| 08/09/2008 | 0 Comments

Some 34 new students who started on the Tourism Apprenticeship Training Programme (TATP) last Tuesday, 2 September were formally welcomed by the Minister of Tourism, Charles Clifford, during an orientation session at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort. "This is a big step for many of the apprentices,” said Clifford.

“The Tourism Apprenticeship Training Programme will provide all successful students with an internationally-recognized CARIBCERT qualification as well as a certificate in Hospitality Studies. Both of these provide a solid foundation for the apprentices, whether they decide to jump right into the workforce or further their education locally or abroad,” added the minister.

This year, three areas of study are being offered to the students -: Food and Beverage Operations, Food Preparation Operations and Front Office Operations. Of the 34 apprentices 14 have enrolled for Front Office Operations, 9 in Food and Beverage and the remaining 11 in Food Preparation Operations.

During orientation the students were given more insight into the TATP and what to expect by various speakers from the organisations involved and during lunch the young trainees had the opportunity to mingle, and chat with various tourism industry partners,past apprentices and TATP council members.

 The Ministry of Tourism’s Tourism Apprenticeship Training Programme (TATP) is designed to create a cadre of Caymanian hospitality professionals in occupations traditionally under-represented by Caymanians but with respectable compensation levels and career potential. Based on the philosophy of learning by doing, the TATP provides participants with vocational skills and combines on-the-job training with classroom learning. The TATP is a full-time programme lasting 38 weeks and successful students will walk away with the recognized CARIBCERT Certification.  The TATP is predominantly aimed at high school seniors and graduates interested in tourism/hospitality, as well as workers in the industry trying to advance their career; however, any Caymanians interested in working their way up in the hospitality industry are invited to apply. For more information about the Tourism Apprenticeship Programme, please contact the Department of Tourism at 949-0623 or visit


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Woman stabbed in restaurant restroom

| 08/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police said they have arrested a 26-year-old woman on suspicion of assault causing grievous bodily harm after a 37-year-old woman received a serious stab wound on Friday night 5 September in the restrooms at the Cracked Conch restaurant in West Bay. The 911 Emergency Communications Centre received a call at 11:20 pm from a member of the public reporting that a woman had been stabbed.

Police and medics responded and found that the victim had received a serious stab wound to her back. She was taken to hospital for treatment where she remains in a serious but stable condition. Investigations have revealed that, shortly before the 911 call was made, the woman was stabbed in the downstairs bathroom of the restaurant, which is accessed from the outside.

Police say there was a function taking place within the upstairs restaurant at the time, which appears unconnected to the incident. Anyone who was in the restaurant at the time of the incident who may have seen something important is asked to contact Detective Sergeant Winsome Prendergast on 916-5241 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling crime stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

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Police arrest two men over loaded firearm

| 08/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Following a routine stop check by the Uniform Support Group (USG) at the weekend a loaded Glock was recovered from a vehicle and two men were arrested on suspicion of being in possession of an unlicensed firearm. Officers carried out the stop check on Goring Avenue in George Town in the vicinity of Bay Shore Mall at around 2.15 am on Saturday, 6 September.


The two men, aged 30 and 26, who were in the vehicle at the time of the check remain in police custody at this time.The 30-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) said that it is working hard to tackle illegal firearms and encourages residents to report any information about the location or use of illegal firearms to either their local police station or Crime Stoppers.

Anyone with information about crime taking place in the Cayman Islands should contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS). All persons calling crime stoppers remain anonymous, and are eligible for a reward of up to $1000, should their information lead to an arrest or recovery of property/drugs.

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Sun setting on energy tax credits

| 08/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Unless Congress extends the renewable tax credits soon, the potential thriving renewable energy industry seen as a critical solution to problems such as high energy prices and climate change could stall. According to a release by Environmental Expert a portal for the environment industry, Green power is part of the solution for energy costs, the economy, and climate change. 

A sustained clean energy boom will make the US economy less dependent on fossil fuels such as natural gas that are subject to significant price volatility says EE and better policy support for green power will allow U.S. companies to lead in a fast growing market, and create the jobs and technologies that will supply the world with the next generation of energy. The experts also point to the displacement of fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy will decrease greenhouse gas emissions and help tackle the climate change threat.

Renewable energy tax credits—the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the Investment Tax Credit (ITC)—have been a key driver of in the development of green power in the United States. These credits improve the cost-competitiveness of low-carbon technologies for energy production. The incentives have wide, bipartisan support, but a Congressional fight over how to pay for them has left the future of these tax incentives in limbo.

In late July, the Senate again failed to extend them. They are set to expire on December 31st. With the political world focused squarely on the November election, lawmakers have little time to pass tax credit extensions before Congress adjourns at the end of the year. The tax savings companies receive from the credits can make the difference between a profitable renewable energy project and a failed one. The PTC and the ITC also increase R&D funding to these industries and speed the rate at which these technologies are adopted in the market.

Year-to-year extensions do not provide the certainty companies need to makelarge, long-term capital investments that are necessary to complete renewable power projects.

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Thawing permafrost threat

| 08/09/2008 | 0 Comments

Permafrost blanketing the northern hemisphere contains more than twice the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, making it a potentially mammoth contributor to global climate change, a new studay says. The estimated 1,672 billion metric tons of carbon locked up in the permafrost is more than double the 780 billion tons in the atmosphere today. Go to article

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Quant funds in decline

| 08/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(IN): Funds that rely on computers to select stocks is coming to an end, says David Hoffman of Investment News. Mutual fund companies had rolled out 29 so-called quantitative funds year-to-date through Aug. 31, down nearly 58% from 69 the comparable period a year earlier. In 2007, a record 117 quant funds made their debut, according to Lipper Inc. of New York. Go to article

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Brits head for Caribbean on cruises

| 08/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(Telegraph): The Caribbean is a cruising paradise. With 7,000 islands, gentle trade winds and a year-round warm climate, the region is irresistible to cruise lines and has become the most competitive cruising destination in the world. Major companies such as Royal Caribbean International, Carnival Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises dominate these waters, but the beauty of the Caribbean means there is also room for smaller lines, as they can call at islands that larger ships cannot reach. Go to article.

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Hurricane Ike leaves trail of destruction

| 08/09/2008 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Royal Navy ships Iron Duke and Wave Ruler, which came to the Cayman Islands after Hurricane Gustav, are heading with emergency aid to the Turks and Caicos Islands after Hurricane Ike struck the British territory early Sunday with ferocious 135mph winds and storm surges of up to 18 feet – a week after they were impacted by Tropical Storm Hanna.

Reports indicate that many homes lost their roofs as well as power. The category 4 hurricane also slammed the Bahamas’ southernmost island, Great Inagua, home to around 1,000 people, though no deaths have been reported.

In a statement on their Turks and Caicos operation, Richard Dodd, CEO Cable & Wireless Caribbean, said that the telecommunications company’s networks remained functional in most areas even during the hurricane. However, many of the utility poles which support C&W cables were blown down by the extremely strong winds.

“We at Cable & Wireless are very happy that there have been no reported fatalities, but we are very conscious of the significant damage that has been caused to property and infrastructure,” said Dodd. “Already, our teams are on the ground making an assessment of the immediate needs –both humanitarian and technical – to facilitate a coordinated response.

He said Cable & Wireless would be providing all the assistance it could to the people of the Turks and Caicos, while simultaneously working around-the-clock to restore all services in the shortest possible time.

Premier Michael Misick told the media that more than 80% of the homes were damaged on two of the British territory’s islandsand people who didn’t take refuge in shelters were cowering in closets and under stairwells, "just holding on for life." On Grand Turk, which has a population of around 3,000, some reports indicate that as many as 95% of the buildings had been severely damaged or completely demolished, while on South Caicos, a fishing-dependent island of 1,500 people, the airport was under water and power is expected to be out for weeks.

Ike is blamed for the deaths of at least 58 people in Haiti, and officials found three more bodies from a previous storm. Various media reports on the nation’s death toll from four storms in less than a month range from 300 to around 600, with thousands in desperate need of food, clean water and shelter and relief efforts hampered by this latest storm.

The British Red Cross and other agencies have launched emergency appeals to support operations throughout the affected region.


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CITA calls for dolphin ban

| 08/09/2008 | 17 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) has submitted a position paper to government asking for an immediate ban on all dolphin imports. Literally weeks before two dolphinariums plan to open their doors, CITA has implored the Tourism Minister to put a stop to what they say will ruin Cayman’s tourism industry.

The paper was presented to Charles Clifford, Minister for Tourism and the Environment, on Friday, 5 September, and CITA says it will be following up with the minister in the hope of seeing some response to its request.  CITA has made the case on numerous occasions that the capture, import, export or keeping in captivity of all cetacean species should be banned in the Cayman Islands. The Association, which is made up a diverse cross-section of businesses and stakeholders from the sector, said that it has strongly opposed captive dolphin facilities long before the two dolphinariums were developed.

“Polls to verify our members’ position on thismatter have been conducted several times, with the results showing a vast majority (74%) stating no to captive dolphin facilities,” it said. “Once again, we beseech the Cayman Islands Government to seriously consider the implementation of a ban on the future import of cetaceans, as other nations have done, to protect these marine mammals, the environment, the reputation of the Cayman Islands, our large water-associated tourism product and the culture and heritage of these islands.”

In October 2006, the government placed a moratorium on any new captive dolphin facilities, but not before two facilities had already been granted import permits for Bottlenose Dolphins. Dolphin Discovery (a franchise operation with headquarters in Mexico, locally represented by Gene Thompson and Dale Crighton), at the old Cayman Turtle Farm site in West Bay, was given a permit in 2004 to import eight Bottlenose Dolphins. Dolphin Cove Cayman (to be operated by Kent Eldemire), which is associated with Dolphin Cove Jamaica, located by Morgan’s Harbour in West Bay, was given a permit to import 12 Bottlenose Dolphins.

CITA said that the government had taken the first step by declaring a moratorium and urged it to take the next step by imposing a ban on future importations. “As the Cayman Islands makes bold and hard-earned moves to create and stimulate eco-tourism, nature tourism, Green Globe certifications for many properties and potentially the Sister Islands in total, and sustainable tourism programs including the protection of the environment, the importation and captivity of any future dolphins to the Cayman Islands will undermine these efforts substantially and directly contradict these efforts,” it said.

CITA has gone on record in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008 strongly opposing these captive dolphin facilities and says not only is it cruel and harmful to the dolphins but it will seriously damage the reputation of Cayman and put our marine environment at risk.

“Cayman’s visitors are generally well-educated, above-average household income visitors. We cannot afford to be tarnished with the ongoing support and allowance of contributing to the capture and keeping of more dolphins. We urge the Government of the Cayman Islands to put laws in place to ban any future import, export, taking or keeping of cetaceans, for the good of our reputation, the stakeholders in Tourism and for future generations.”

The association noted that many other countries are imposing bans on taking dolphins from the wild. “The practice of capturing wild dolphins has been well documented over the years and continues to receive negative media attention,” said CITA. “We are all interconnected in the marine environment, and while captures may not be taking place in Cayman, the effect of us taking other nations’ captured dolphins is just as devastating.”

The association says in its paper that Cayman needs to recognize the detrimental effects that the capture of wild dolphins, and often wholesale slaughter, will have on our reputation in the global community. All capture methods result in some deaths, and the dolphin trade negatively affects wild populations. There is a documented sixfold increase in mortality risk for individual dolphins directly after capture. and captures can remove important individuals, leaving behind a shattered social group, altering reproductive capacity and leaving unweaned young dolphins to die of starvation.

Moreover, even though the ‘Cayman dolphins’ are reportedly coming from captivity, the facilities that these dolphins come from intend to replace them from the wild. Worldwide public opinion is also rapidly moving against such facilities.  “More than a dozen US facilities have closed in the past decade, due to public outcry, boycotts and/or declining revenue as the public becomes more educated,” CITA added.  

Many countries have imposed a ban on the trade in dolphins, including Costa Rica and Mexico, which was among the largest capture and export countries in the world. Here in Cayman there is wide objection to the trade and a number of organisations have spoken out against the facilities. The Marine Conservation Board of the Cayman Islands went on record in 2003 stating that captive dolphin facilities should not be allowed to become established in the Cayman Islands because of what it couldconvey to Cayman’s image as a tourist destination known for its marine resource conservation.

"The MCB is alarmed about the additional stresses caused by the dolphin sewage discharge from captive dolphin facilities into our economically natural marine environment,” the board stated. CITA said it recently spoke with the board (15 August 2008), which confirmed that it stood by its position and remains against captive dolphin facilities in general.

CNS has made several attempts to contact the owners of the dolphinariums that were granted permits to import dolphins, most recently on Friday when Kent Eldemire of Dolphin Cove said he had not and never would have any comment regarding dolphins. CNS has never received any response to its enquiries from Dolphin Discovery.

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AG criticises Matrix contract

| 08/09/2008 | 2 Comments

(CNS): There are various concerns surrounding the now controversial scrap metal contract awarded to Matrix International Ltd, a report from the Auditor General’s office tabled in the Legislative Assembly has found. Auditor General Dan Duguay says that not enough due diligence was carried out with regard to the people in the firm which could have revealed their inexperience, and he also questions the tender evaluation process.

Although the AG said that Matrix was the best of the three bids, he states that none of the proposals actually met the requirements of the invitation and that there was a failure to establish if anyone had the financial viability to actually do the job. The report says that given this situation the job should have been re-tendered.

The government signed a contract in March last year with Matrix for the firm to remove scrap metal from the Cayman Islands, which had accumulated since Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. Subsequently, the firm has run into various financial problems and has defaulted on its contract with the Cayman Islands Government and also allegedly left various local sub-contractors out of pocket.

The contract was awarded to this Canadian based firm after it made an unsolicited approach to the government and following invitations to tender, for which three bids were submitted. Matrix appeared to offer the best return, but the AG points out in his report that none of the bids actually met the terms of the tender.

“The invitation required that all submissions were to provide proof of financial viability. During the evaluation process, the tendering committee decided that none of the bidders had met this criterion,” says Duguay’s report. “We were of the opinion that when none of the bidders satisfied this mandatory requirement the process should have stopped.”

The report notes that the contract was awarded to Matrix subject to three new conditions being met but Duguay says these conditions were never fulfilled before work started. The AG’s report also points to the inexperience of the contractors and notes that had those involved in the tender process done their due diligence this would have been revealed.

“If more diligence had been done, it may have been more apparent that the principals involved with Matrix had little significant experience with the procurement, transportation and sale of scrap metal in international markets.”

Duguay also questions whether the advertising process, which included two adverts over a two week period, on the invitation to tender was sufficient. He also notes that while the tender preparation was done well the evaluation criteria and weightings used in the selection process were not, as is required by the Financial Regulations, included in the tender document.

Duguay says he was asked to examine the tendering process regarding the scrap metal issue following public interest regarding why an international bidder was selected over a local firm. In his report Duguay reveals that the one local firm bidding on the contract submitted one document merely stating the price it would give for the scrap metal.

“None of the other required information relating to past experience, workload, availability of equipment, technical qualifications or financial profile was submitted," said Duguay. “The company later complained that it was not awarded the contract.”

In February 2008 the Public Accounts Committee asked the AG’s office to review the process leading up to and the awarding of the contract. Duguay says that at the time he was not asked to look at the performance or the contract or the failure of Matrix to meet its obligations.

Previous attempts by the Ministry of Public Works to remove the massive amounts of accumulating scrap metal at the George Town land fill had never involved earning money for the waste, but had focused on simply reducing the growing mounds of scrap metal. Matrix was the first firm to approach the government and suggest there was value in the metal. The firm eventually offered $1.25 million to remove all of the scrap at the fill. After winning the contract but before any of the conditions were fulfilled Matrix shipped 6,500 tons of metal off island and paid the government $310,000. On 1 November the government suspended all operations by the firm after it was found to be in default of its contract, which has yet to be resolved.

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