Archive for January 26th, 2010

Tim takes on the turtles

| 26/01/2010 | 39 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman local news, Boatswains Beach, cayman Turtle Farm, Tim Adam(CNS): The former CEO of Cable & Wireless, Timothy Adam, is the new managing director of Boatswain’s Beach and he takes on the controversial turtle challenge from Tuesday 26 January. Excited about what he acknowledges will not be an easy job, Adam told CNS he is thrilled to be working with what he believes is a passionate team and committed board, but is under no illusions regarding the work ahead of him. Adam said that Boatswain’s Beach is like a “fine ship, with a great crew which has been sailing in rough waters,” and he has vowed to do what he can to make the facility financially viable.

Since Joey Ebanks resigned from the post last April in orderto campaign for a seat in the Legislative Assembly on behalf of the PPM in North Side, the facility has been leaderless at a time when it has been haemorrhaging millions of dollars of public funds. Joe Parsons, the facility’s biologist and turtle expert, has been holding the fort, and Adam commended him and the team for keeping the facility going in such adverse circumstances. “They have all done an incredible job,” he said. “Running such a complex facility when you already have a complex technical job, such as Joe Parsons has, is no mean feet.”

The controversy over the facility’s spectacular losses were almost eclipsed when it was revealed last year that Ebanks, the former MD, had borrowed some $65,000 in salary advances without the knowledge of the farm’s board. A subsequent report by the Auditor General revealed that not only had Ebanks been signing his own cheques for the salary advances over a considerable period he had also run up a $6000 bar bill buying booze and cigarettes on the public dollar, in what Ebanks later claimed was a promotion for the farm’s Schooner restaurant, to try and attract customers to the facility which had failed to achieve anything like the anticipated visitor numbers.

Boatswain’s Beach, which was a redevelopment of the original Cayman Islands Turtle Farm, cost more than $62 million to build and has perpetually drained enormous amounts of public funds. Questions about the facility’s future have ranged from selling all or part of the business to diversifying elements of what is already a very diverse facility.

Designed as a cultural heritage site as well as a tourist attraction, Boatswain’s Beach it is still meant to be home to the Turtle Farm, where the preservation of the endangered sea turtle sits awkwardly with the farming of those endangered species to satisfy the local demand for the meat.

Adam said he recognised the diversity of the facility but he intended to strive towards achieving the vision statement of the farm, which is to make it Cayman’s preeminent cultural attraction. “There is no doubt that some significant changes are needed to make the facility work, but I want to make sure that the changes we make are the right changes,” Adam said.

He noted that there would be many challenges along the way and he knew that expectations would be high as the facility had become the focus of so much public attention. He said he was willing to take it on and he hoped that the community would rally round and offer their support and prayers to make the facility work. Adam also promised to be open and transparent about the changes he would eventually make.

Well aware that he will not be able to turn things around over night, he told CNS that he was really excited about taking up the post of MD. Ever since he stepped down from the helm of Cable & Wireless, Adam said he had hoped to find something exciting in the tourism industry, a sector very close to his heart as a result of his family’s association with the development of Cayman’s tourism product. He said his experience at the helm of the telecoms firm as well as his attraction to the tourism business would stand him in good stead.

Although too early to say exactly what he planned to do to turn things around at Boatswain’s Beach, Adam said he had a number of ideas about the facility’s future and he intended to spend the next few weeks learning everything he could from the board and staff to see if his vision dovetailed with what their on-the-ground experience tells them is viable.

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