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[sir turtle] Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands News - 2001



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December 2001

According to the Cayman Islands General Insurance Association, claims for damage caused by Hurricane Michelle have exceeded CI$23m. Of this figure, over $13m went to Government (of which $6m was for damage to the George Town port, $4.7m for damage to the Turtle Farm, and $1.7m for the dock in Cayman Brac). Almost $10m has been paid to owners of homes and businesses. It is thought that a number of properties damaged were not insured, so the real value of the damage caused is likely to be higher. Insurance premiums are set to rise, with owners of coastal property likely to see increases in premiums of between 25% and 30%.
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Construction of the new Ritz-Carlton continues, with a show suite due to be open in January 2002, and the hotel opening for business in October 2003. When completed, the development will house a 365-room hotel, over 70 condo/apartment, two olympic sized swimming pools, five restaurants/grills, a nine-hole golf course designed by Greg Norman, lighted clay tennis courts and a 20,000 square foot gym and spa. For more details see [hit] http://www.residences-cayman.com/
In other hotel news, the Sleep Inn now advertises itself as the Cayman Inn and Resort (but still uses the Sleep Inn e-mail address!) and Comfort Suites is now signed at the Sunshine Suites by Wyndham's.
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The first stage of the new Crewe Road by-pass opened just before Christmas. The western end meets the existing road by the Esso Garage near the runway, and the eastern end starts at a new (large) roundabout near Tropical Gardens. Commute times into town had been significantly reduced.
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Just as the Islands were getting used to a new radio station (Vibe 98.9) another station has been launched. Ocean 95.5 intends to distribute credit-card sized radios pre-tuned to their station to visitors in fun-packs to be given out at the airport. The radio station intends to feature continuous talk-free music.
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The Government has announced some major changes in it's budget for 2002. Hardest hit are the banks, who see their licence fees increased significantly, but proposals are likely to hit many professions and residents/visitors on the island. Government seeks to raise $2.5m by increasing the licence fees also paid by the legal and accounting firms. For example, Hunter & Hunter will have to pay $0.5m for it's five partners, but on a per lawyer basis this is two to three times as much as some of the larger firms will pay. The budget also saw proposals to introduce parking charges in George Town of C$2.50/hour.
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The Government has awarded the contract to provide consultancy services in the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector to LECG Ltd of London. Plans are on target for the establishment of an ICT Authority in February 2002, to be operational by June 2002. The phased liberalisation of the telecommunications market is expected to commence in August 2002.
In other Government news, more details of the new Authority to oversee shipping were announced. The Cayman Maritime Safety Authority would bring together a number of maritime matters currently handled by a number of ministries, including safety and shipping registration.
Government also intends to move all of the cargo operations away from the George Town port to a new dock in the East End, probably in the Half Moon Bay area. This would free up the George Town harbour to focus purely on cruise ships.
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Plans are underway to bring about 100 New York fire fighters, rescue workers and members of families who lost loved ones during the recovery efforts following the terrorist attack to the Cayman Islands from February 19th to February 23rd. Cayman airways will lay on a special flights, Texaco will pay for the fuel, and hotels are providing the accommodation.
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Other bits & pieces;
Customs Officers have completed a course on reading body language to help spot potential smugglers.
The Turtle Farm recovered their first breeding turtle after Hurricane Michelle. During the storm they lost about 250 of their larger turtles, and, as the farm are offering a reward of CI$4/lb for each turtle recovered, one lucky West Bay resident is now CI$1,000 richer.
The annual boat Parade of Lights was won by Purple Boat, with Red Sail Sports second and Mantis third. Many of the houses on South Sound Road chose to decorate their houses in red, white and blue Christmas lights, including Stars and Stripes lights. The biggest display of lights was at the Crighton household in Red Bay. Apparently it takes them three weeks to set up the lights/displays and they get no rebate from CUC for all the extra electricity they use.
Hobbies and Books have opened two new stores at Grand Harbour (Hurley's); a new book store (Books by the Bay) and a toy store (Discover Toys).
Red Sail Sports now have a tie-up with Tortuga Divers at the East End; make your booking (and payment) through the Red Sails dive shop, and then make your own way to Morritt's (East End) to see some different dive sites.

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November 2001

Even though Hurricane Michelle didn't hit the islands, the storm had a devastating effect on the south and west coast of Grand Cayman. In George Town, some store windows were completely broken and stock was floating in the middle of the roads. The waterfront has completely been washed away with all the landing areas badly damaged and the port fencing all down. Large sections of road way have been removed. There were reports of major damage (especially to ground floor rooms) at Grand Old House, Blue Parrot, Sunset House, Seven Mile Beach Resort, Treasure Island condos, Grandview, Beach Club and others... but none have had to close (probably due to the current low occupancy rates after 11th September).
The Turtle Farm has been very badly damaged with many of the turtles killed when they were smashed on the rocks by the storm. Some turtles were washed up in the middle of roads. The farm opened as an attraction (but on a limited basis and reduced admission fees) about two weeks later. See details at [hit] http://www.turtle.ky/ for more details.
The East End of the island was unaffected by the storms, and dive boats were out on the Monday as usual.
For comprehensive local reports (including photos) check out http://stormcarib.com/reports/2001/cayman.shtml
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On October 30th the CIBC and Barclays banks signed an agreement to combine their operations in the Caribbean.
Implementation of this agreement is still subject approvals from government, regulatory authorities and shareholders. Once all is finalized the merger should be completed by the first quarter of 2002.
The new bank will have 87 branches, and over 120 ATMs, with operations in 15 Caribbean countries.
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A year after elections to the Legislative Assembly, two key figures (Leader of Government Business, Kurt Tibbetts, and MLA Edna Moyle) have been ousted from the Executive Council after a motion of no confidence in them was passed. They have been replaced on the ExCo by Dr. Frank McField, and Gilbert McLean. A new political party, the United Democratic Party (UDP), has been formed and was the driving force behind these changes.
The feedback I've had is that this is seen as being bad news; Kurt Tibbets was viewed as being an experienced politician and doing a good job, and the way in which this 'coup' was done was not viewed as being helpful to the island's reputation. There has been talk that Edna Moyle is considering taking legal action and calls for new elections to be held.
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British Airways flight to/from Grand Cayman now depart/arrive at London's Heathrow Airport - Terminal 4. In other airline news, Cayman Airways has a new Chairman, Roy McTaggart (Managing Partner with KPMG), following the resignation of former Chairman Sheridan Brooks-Hurst. CAL now come under the Minister of Tourism (McKeeva Bush).
American Airlines will reinstate its third daily flight from the US to Grand Cayman into it's regular scheduled service with effect from 31st January 2002. They will also be running a three-flight schedule, due to increased demand, between 3rd December 2001 and 5th January 2002.
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It has been announced that the new Governor will be Bruce Dinwiddy when the current Governor, Peter Smith, retires in May 2002. Mr Dinwiddy is currently the UK's High Commissioner in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania).

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October 2001

The Government announced plans to liberalise the Telecommunication Industry. They are to negotiate termination of the current exclusive agreement held by Cable & Wireless since the early 1990's and seek renegotiation on a more liberal footing. It is expected that a new ICT Authority will be up and running by June 2002, that negotiations with C&W will be completed by July 2002 with August 2002 as the target for the commencement of a phased liberalisation of the telecomms sector. The Government hope that with a more liberalised telecomms environment, IT will become the third leading industry in Cayman's economy, behind tourism and finance.
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Government has announced plans for the Quincentennial (500) anniversary of the sighting of Cayman by Christopher Columbus. Events for 2003 which sponsorships are being sought, include a Tall Ship Festival in May, a major George Town Renewal Project, an IT (Information Technology) conference with international speakers as well as a trade show, and international sporting events, in football and cricket, as well as a celebrity golf tournament. Special commemorative coins and license plates are already planned. A logo for the year-long celebrations on all three islands - the number 500 over a bright background above a line of waves has been launched.
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Air Canada have started their winter season of flights from Toronto to Grand Cayman. They will fly the route on Sundays and Wednesdays. Flight time is about four and a half hours.
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A man from the Cayman Brac who was diagnosed as having viral encephalitis at the end of August is expected to make a full recovery. Blood samples sent to the US for testing identified he was infected with the West Nile virus - the first occurrence of this in the Cayman Islands. The Mosquito Research & Control Unit have sprayed the area around the patient's house and neighbours and continue fogging spraying there and in Grand Cayman. Mosquito samples caught in the Cayman Brac and Grand Cayman since then have found not to be carrying the virus.
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The economic down-turn continues in Cayman. Cayman Airways have layed off two pilots and five cabin crews following the cut backs in their services. They have also announced a voluntary pay cut for all staff, including pilots, from the start of November.
The construction industry has also been hit - staff have been layed-off for at least three months. (By laying off the staff it means that the employer doesn't have to reapply for work permits.)
CUC has decided to hold-off it's planned 2% increase for both business and residential customers.
The CI Government has announced a six-month fee concessions on Stamp Duty on Land Transfers, Building Permit and Infrastructure Fees to try to boost the local economy. Stamp Duty will drop to six per cent on transfers involving already constructed properties and to five per cent on all other transfers; Building Permit Fees will have a 50 per cent cut in all fee categories for all projects that have received planning approval within the 6-month time frame; and infrastructure Fees will be reduced also by 50 per cent on all projects that have received planning approval within the 6-month time frame.
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The Afghan asylum seekers arrested after the 11th September attack have been released after it was found that they had no connections with the hijackings/terrorist attacks. Their application for asylum has also been rejected, but they are appealing that decision.
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The Cayman Music and Entertainment Association (CMEA) has announced that many of it's members will be boycotting the Pirate's Week festivities at the end of October. Their protest is to highlight the poor pay and conditions for local performers against those of visiting artists. Those bands not performing include Local Motion, Intransit, Hi Tide, Settlers, CMX International, Safari, Cayjami, Riddem Posse, Heat, Exit, Ratskyn, Gone Country, and Footloose.
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Resort Sports, the diving and watersports company at the Beach Club and Spanish Bay Resorts, have taken over the Parrot's Landing fleet of boats, including their catamaran. They also have a new location on North Church Street in George Town where the are developing a PADI/NAUI training centre.

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Barefoot Man has left Rum Point and now performs on Tuesday's and Thursday's from 7pm to 10pm at the Royal Reef Resort in the East End.
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The publishers of Cayman Net News have launched a new weekly magazine, This Week in Cayman, to be published on Friday's. It will feature listings for entertainment and sports, TV listings, and restaurant reviews.
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A new radio station for Cayman and the Caribbean has been announced. Coming on air next month, Vibe 98.9 will feature R&B, Soca, Reggae, Dance, Soul, Blues, Jazz, World Music, Top 40 hits and more. The radio station will be based in the Cayman Islands. The radio station's web site is at [hit] http://www.vibefm.ky/

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September 2001

Following the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, lots of fuss was caused by an anonymous letter sent by a Caymanian to the local radio station, Radio Cayman on the 29th August. The writer hoped it would be read on the Talk Today show, but as it was incorrectly addressed, and given it's speculative nature, it wasn't. However, the Director of Radio Cayman passed the letter on to Acting Chief Secretary of the Cayman Islands on 6th September.

In the letter, the writer said "... we have an urgent situation with the three Afghanistan that we have in our midsts for the past months. I have been convinced that they are agents of Osama Bin Laden – one of the world’s greatest terrorist – operating out of – you guessed it – Afghanistan. The three agents here are organizing a major terrorist act against the U.S. via an airline or airlines." He went on to say "I feel that the world will think this is the most unlikely place on Earth to launch an attack – the Cayman Islands. The agents are patiently organizing this attack while we fumble and stumble over the trivial thing as their identity." and "... we need to pass on this information immediately to the authorities and refrain from being na´ve and complacent in this serious situation."

It should be noted that the writer didn't try to express his concerns directly to any of the government's authorities.

The facts behind the case (copied from a Cayman Islands Government Press Release) are that on 22nd August 2000, three men claiming to be Afghan nationals reported that they were dropped off in the Cayman Islands, having arrived here by ship from Turkey. They were detained by the Police at the Central Police Station. The Immigration authorities conducted interviews with the individuals (with the assistance of a visiting Iranian doctor who was able to translate) in an attempt to establish their identities.

On 28th August 2000, the information was transmitted to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). On 2nd October, the men were transferred to Northward Prison from the Central Police Station, where they had been in protective custody.

On 10th October, a further letter was sent to the FCO, indicating that the Government had considerable doubt concerning the account given by the men about their arrival in the Cayman Islands. It appeared likely that the men had arrived here on 20th August on a flight from Cuba using Pakistani passports. The Government questioned the validity of the Pakistani passports (which were never located), and the ultimate goal of the men concerning their presence in the Cayman Islands.

Since last year, the authorities have attempted to establish their identities. Interpol was contacted, but had no record of any of the individuals. Because the men claimed they had planned to go to Canada, a representative from the Canadian High Commission in Jamaica visited the Cayman Islands and met with the Chief Immigration Officer.

The Afghan authorities (in exile) in New York interviewed the men by telephone, and were satisfied that they were Afghan nationals. That office issued them temporary travel documents. These could not be used, as the individuals still required a visa from a country allowing the individuals entry. The men were asked to provide a list of people who might be able to verify their identities. The list was also passed on to the Afghan authorities in New York, but no response was made regarding the list.

Additional inquiries were made to the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, D.C., and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Neither responded. The British High Commission in Islamabad, Pakistan, has also been unable to secure cooperation from Pakistani authorities. The numbers of the passports believed to have been used by the individuals was recorded by Immigration, but no Pakistani authority has verified the numbers or provided any information about them.

Based on complaints from the detainees, and at the request of the Cayman Islands branch of the Red Cross, the three men were moved to a less secure area of the prison on 27th April 2001. On 5th June 2001, the Cayman Islands Grand Court ruled that the men should be released pending determination of their application for political asylum. In its ruling, the Court stated that "there is no evidence that they are a danger to the public and fears as to their possible links with a terrorist organization have long since been dispelled." However, the Court concurred with immigration authorities that their version of how they reached the Cayman Islands was not credible.

Following that decision, the men were accommodated in a guest house in Grand Cayman, and have been required to report to Immigration authorities and the RCIP on a daily basis. They have complied fully. Efforts have been ongoing to establish their identities and potential options for relocation in the event that their request for political asylum is unsuccessful.

In August of this year, a Chief Immigration Officer from the United Kingdom came to the Cayman Islands at the request and expense of the Cayman Islands government. The officer specializes in matters relating to Afghanistan and speaks Farsi. After interviewing the three men individually, the officer was satisfied that the men were indeed Afghan nationals. The officer did, however, state that she too was not satisfied with the Afghans’ account of how they had arrived in the Cayman Islands.

The person who wrote the anonymous letter did not contact the Acting Chief Secretary or any other Cayman Islands government or law enforcement official about the letter until 12th September, the day after the attack in the U.S. When formally interviewed that day by local authorities, the letter writer told them that the letter was "pure speculation" on his part.

Following the horrific terrorist attack in the U.S., Chief Secretary James Ryan transmitted the information to Police Commissioner David Thursfield on 12th September. The RCIP Commissioner was then in contact with the U.S. Consul on the Island and the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica. Representatives of the U.S. Embassy arrived in Grand Cayman on the evening of 12th September and departed on the afternoon of 15th September. While in the Cayman Islands, the US authorities received complete cooperation. They were provided with all documents and relevant information regarding the case of the Afghan nationals with a view to briefing the relevant U.S. investigating authorities.

The three Afghans have been in protective custody since 11th September and are now in Northward Prison.


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According to local press reports, the island's Mosquito Research and Control Unit ran out of money in August, and their supplies of insecticide will soon be exhausted. It may be worth taking some repellent with you!
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The tourism industry has been heavily hit by the terrorist attacks in the US. Some hotels are reporting occupancy levels as low as 10% (compared with usual figures of 35% to 40% for this time of year). The main chains have started to lay-off staff, mainly in the food/beverage area. The Cayman Islands Tourism Association is looking at a number of measures and packages to try to boost the market.
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Cayman Airways have announced that following the attacks in the US, it's plans to lease new aircraft have been postponed.

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August 2001

Government announced further funding for Cayman Airways. The airline will sell it's Boeing 737-200 planes and buy two new Boeing 737-700s and a second-hand Dash-8 that will be used for the Cayman Brac route.
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Cydonie Mothersill of the Cayman Islands came fifth in the women's 200m final at the IAAF World Championships in Edmonton, Canada.
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Six people (none of them police officers) have been charged with offenses relating to the burglary at the Central Police Station, in which about one hundred pounds of cocaine were stolen.
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There are plans to open a dolphin theme park (to be located in the Morgan's Harbour area) by the start of 2002. As in other places, it will offer the opportunity to swim with the dolphins in a range of programs.
Another attraction planned for next year is "Shipwreck City". This will involve the sinking of five new ships around Grand Cayman and Little Cayman, to add to existing dive and snorkel sites and boost the tourist market.
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Cayman Airways are cancelling some of their services during the quiet period of September and October. On Saturdays, the two evening flights (KX106 from GCM to MIA at 17:45 and KX107 from MIA to GCM at 21:05) are temporarily discontinued. There are one less roundtrip flight per week to Kingston, Jamaica and Cayman Brac. The Wednesday service to Houston is also being removed.
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A seventeen-foot fishing boat was sunk when it was crashed into by the dive boat "Galleon Diver" from the Beach Club Resort. The fisherman (George Bush) was not hurt in the incident.
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The Monetary Authority has established a new industry-wide group known as the Cayman Islands Anti-Money Laundering Group. The group's membership includes (amongst others) representatives from the Monetary Authority, the Bankers Association, HM Customs and the Law Society. The aims of the groups include raising awareness of the efforts the Cayman Islands is taking to counter money laundering, and to make sure that all the industries involved have consistent and relevant training programs to counter money laundering.
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A Caymanian working as a customs service agent for Cayman Airways, a Canadian and a Sweede have been arrested and charged with trying to export Ganja. 270lbs were found in bags that had been checked in to a Cayman Airways flight to Miami on 23rd August, and over 1,000lbs of material was found in an apartment shared by two of the suspects in George Town.
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Sunworld Airlines, a Cincinnati based charter airline, has been in talks with Government to seek a subsidy to increase it's charter flight to the island. For over eight years they have been running a weekly service from Cincinatti, but now want to add a further three weekly flights from Dallas, Washington/Baltimore and Pittsburgh via Raleigh-Durham. Sunworld estimate that they could bring in between 17,000 and 20,000 visitors a year, and are seeking assistance in their start-up costs.

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July 2001

The Cayman Islands Government are drafting a bill that will allow competition against Cable and Wireless for the provision of telecommunications services.
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Another embarrassing incident for the Police; over CI$2m of cocaine that was scheduled for disposal was stolen from the central lock-up.
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Problems at Cayman Airways. On 3rd July a flight from Cayman Brac to Grand Cayman was aborted on the runway when engine parts fell off, and on 7th July, a flight to Houston from Grand Cayman returned after 20 minutes when the pilot reported engine instrumentation problems. This led to the grounding of all their planes pending safety checks and an audit by a representative of the UK's Civil Aviation Authority. Mr. Derek Tibbetts, Vice President for Maintenance and Engineering, has resigned, and two engineers suspended.
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The departure tax will increase on 1st August 2001 from CI$14 to CI$24. For tickets purchased and issued before that date, the extra will be collected by the airlines at check-in. Tickets issued after that date will include the increase.
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Air Canada will start operating a direct non-stop weekly flight from Toronto to Grand Cayman at the end of October 2001, increasing to twice-weekly at the start of December 2001.
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After weeks of rumours, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) and Barclays Bank are in advanced discussions which are intended to lead to the merger of their Caribbean operations into a new bank called First Caribbean International Bank.
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Two US tourists were injured, one seriously, when trying to cross the road to the beach outside the Holiday Inn. They were air lifted to medical facilities in Miami.
Holiday Inn have submitted several applications to the Planning department to improve safety (including warning signs, zebra crossing and centre refuge), but most have turned down by Government. They will try again following this accident.
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A visitor from the US had her laptop seized by Customs Inspectors at the airport. It was only released back to her when she agreed to leave a deposit of 20% of the value of the computer in travellers cheques (Customs wanted 30%, but that was all she had) . When she mentioned her ordeal to various friends (and it was also featured on the local radio and TV news), the Collector of Customs agreed to refund her deposit. However, her ordeal didn't end there as when she returned to the airport, the customs official on duty said they were too busy to deal with her and sent her away again!. On a subsequent visit, her deposit was finally returned.
This issue is likely to cause a real stir as Cayman is trying to position itself as an e-commerce centre of excellence.

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June 2001

The Minister of Tourism has announced a partnership with Disney Cruise Lines which will see "Disney Magic" visiting Grand Cayman every other Tuesday from May 2002. Government is also negotiating with the Florida cruise industry to upgrade the harbour facilities in Grand Cayman.
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The Minister for Tourism also announced that the Sunday ban on cruise ships will be lifted.
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Renovation work at the Cayman Brac airport has now been completed. Renovations included the resurfacing of the runway, the apron and three aircraft parking stands, the installation of new runway lights and the installation of a drainage system on the west end of the runway which had sometimes had been liable to flooding.
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Cayman Airways has announced that they will not fly the Orlando route between 8th September and 15th November 2001. The airline blames poor booking levels on this route.
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The seven clearing banks have reduced their interest rates again, down to 6.75% from 4th July 2001.

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May 2001

Cable & Wireless now offer an ADSL for Internet access. Packages start at CI$139/month. For more details see [hit] http://www.cwinternet.ky/
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Cable & Wireless have also introduced an unlimited internet access package from CI$79/month.
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Prices are on the up. The Statistics Office has release figure showing that prices rose 1.4% in the first quarter of 2001. Gas now costs about CI$2.60/gallon, and this is having a knock-on effect on prices of groceries, etc.
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The local clearing banks are lowering interest rates. The Base Rate will drop from 7.5% to 7%. The seven banks involved include Bank of Butterfield, Barclays Bank, British American, Cayman National, CIBC, Royal Bank of Canada and ScotiaBank.

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April 2001

The slow-down in the economy on the islands has led to a number of companies laying off staff; these include Chrisse Memorial Hospital, Hadsphaltic International, Kirkconnell's and Cable and Wireless.
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A minor name-change at the Ritz-Carlton; the condo development will now be known as the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton.
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Mike Flowers, the owner of the Lone Star, has opened a new outfit at the Seaview Hotel on South Church Street. Naked Fish is serving good food in an informal atmosphere. Various specials include a Snow Crab dinner on Friday's and Z-99 broadcasting their show 'Sunday Night Classics live.
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A visitor from the US was caught at Customs with 2 grammes of Heroin. He admitted importing the drugs for his own personal use and was fined CI$25,000 by the Magistrate's Court.
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Postal rates have gone up. To send a letter within Cayman will now cost you CI$0.15. Other rates are:
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To USTo UK/Europe
Letter up to half-ounceCI$0.30CI$0.40
PostcardCI$0.20CI$0.25

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The tourism figures for 2000 have been released. Total tourism arrivals into the islands totaled 1.38 million (an increase of 0.5% on 1999). Air arrivals accounted for 346,000 (up 3.1%), while cruise ship arrivals reached 1.03 million (down 0.5%). For more details see [hit] http://www.caymannetnews.com/Archive/Archive%20Articles/March%202001/Issue%2072/tourism.html
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A new cardiology clinic has opened at the Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital.

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March 2001

The captain of a luxury yacht, "The Lady A", plead guilty to damaging coral with his anchor and chain. A large area of healthy coral was damaged in a replenishment zone. Scientist reckon it will take about 30 years for the reef to recover from the damage. The captain, Terry Phillips, was fined $150,000, and his yacht isn't allowed to leave Cayman waters until the fine is payed.
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The Cayman Islands Hotel and Condominium Association and the Cayman Tourism Alliance have merged into one body. This follows a move about 18-months ago that saw the Restaurant Association and Watersports Association merge.
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The [miss] Enterprise B&B and the Ambassador's Inn have both closed for holiday lettings and are only open for long-term rentals.
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[hit] Divers Down now run the dive shop at the Sleep Inn.
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Customs tariffs have been revised and include increases in duty of up to 20% on dairy produce, bakery products (including eggs), purified water, fruit (fresh, chilled or frozen) and live plants. These extra costs are likely to be passed onto the consumer!
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Financing has been completed on the new Ritz-Carlton resort.

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February 2001

A post-mortem on a 57-year old American diver who died whilst scuba diving with Tortuga Divers in the East End showed that Robert Rimli died from a heart attack.
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The Central Planning Authority (CPA), gave the green light for the eastern side of the Ritz-Carlton project on Seven Mile Beach at the end of January. A number of conditions apply to the approval, relating to environmental impact of the scheme.
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Work is due to start in May/June on a new tarmac runway on Little Cayman. The new site is further inland and to the north east of the present site. The new airstrip will be 3,000 feet long, and will have lighting for night-time flights. No jet aircraft will be permitted to land on the strip.
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The results of the 1999 census have finally been published; the population of Grand Cayman is now given as 39,410.
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The Court of Appeal has decided that a young Rastafarian should be allowed to attend public school without cutting off his dreadlocks.

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January 2001

On 31st January, the UK's confirmation of Cayman as a rabies-free country came into effect. This will make it easier for owners to take their pets to/from Europe without the having to subject the pet to six months in quarantine. There are strict rules however before a pet can be brought in on the "Pet Passport" scheme (they need blood tests, to be microchipped, have rabies jabs, etc).
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The authorities are considering proposals to allow cruise ships to land on Sundays.
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The new Maya One Fibre Optic link was launched by Cable & Wireless at the end of December 2000. This has speeded up Internet access considerably.
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A new program called Heritage One has been launched. It will allow visitors to the National Museum, Pedro St. James , the Botanic Park and the Cayman Turtle Farm to visit all four sites with a 25 percent saving over paying at each site separately.
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Café Tortuga has closed and reopened as Café Mediteraneo; specialising in Mediterranean cuisine.

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