This objective involves creating the right context and support for various tourism and related enterprises in the Eastern districts to prosper.
5.4.1 Priority area: Business support The focus for support in Go East is the small, Caymanian business, employing mostly Caymanians, with an interest in one of the priority sectors and a project that will have a negligible environmental impact and respect the existing character of the district25. Most new businesses that meet these criteria would appreciate and benefit from assistance (business support, advice), as confirmed in the surveys.
Small, local businesses26 should have priority but assistance should not necessarily be limited to that group. There are priority projects that will require the involvement of larger businesses.
CIIB should be the first point of call and will need to build their support network through new partnership arrangements and other means. CIIB will also need to finalise the draft policy for investment promotion in the Cayman Islands covering, for example, the business definitions, business incentives, business census and statistics etc.
There is no universally accepted, formal or legal definition of businesses in the Cayman Islands. It will be important to clarify definitions of businesses for policy formulation, regulatory purposes and for ongoing monitoring i.e. tracking businesses. In the latter context, there is also no monitoring of business licences; this vital information on the existing supply of existing or planned businesses is not available to susceptible new business ventures. Access to such a database would also provide a source of new clients for CIIB.
Action point: Co-ordinate business support, advice, training and subsequent monitoring for businesses and individual entrepreneurs in the Eastern districts.
Action point: Review Government regulations with a view to reducing red-tape for small, local businesses. Action point: Formalise policy, procedures and roles for investment promotion in appropriate legislation including:
Access to relevant data e.g. data and trends on tourism and other businesses in Cayman Islands and Eastern districts; and
A review of incentives and access to finance and eligibility criteria (see below).
Action point: Review resources for CIIB in the light of this strategy. 5.4.2 Priority area: Access to capital Access to capital is a major constraint for many small, Caymanian businesses, particularly new start-ups. In many cases, the need is for relatively small amounts of capital (micro-finance) but at present, access is restricted for those without adequate business plans and/or collateral. There is an immediate need to facilitate access to funds; failure to do so will mean development is more reliant on foreign investment.
CIDB has limited resources and does not have a formal mandate to provide any special assistance to small businesses by way of discounted finance. Indeed, commercial banks may be better placed to assist with potentially more risky propositions although traditionally, support for small businesses has not always been forthcoming.
CIIB is well placed to advise and assist such businesses and act as a gateway to funding by others. CIIB is also in a position to promote the idea of small business support amongst local banks. (They already provide links for small businesses to local ‘Angel Investors’.)
In parallel, there is the chance to investigate the establishment of a new more flexible micro-finance institution to support small local businesses. This could be under the auspices of CIDB or established as a new partner organisation to CIIB. This could be linked to an Investment Club or Fund to enable Caymanians to invest - or support investment - in local business ventures, including Go East.
Action point: Marshall and review all current debt financing programmes and incentive opportunities to create an integrated, flexible, transparent set of options and procedures, for all appropriate projects in the Eastern districts and elsewhere. No development strategy should be based solely on financial incentives but inclusion of such assistance can be important. As stated above, a programme of Government financial incentives for Go East is in preparation.
In some cases, it is not just the financial incentive that is important but the red-tape involved in so many licenses can be daunting for new businesses.
Action point: Incorporate or amend incentive-related legislation (e.g. Hotels Aid and Customs Laws), as required, with regulations that relate to different sectors and areas, notably the Eastern districts, and eligibility criteria. There is also a requirement to support or incentivise local social or community initiatives e.g. environmental improvements.
Action point: Marshall and review opportunities for public sector support for community projects.
A high priority should be given to raising the awareness of local enterprises of special training opportunities e.g. local familiarisation, environmental management, disabled access and others.
Action point: Promote all opportunities for enhancing business and customer services.
5.5 Objective 5: Provide and manage the infrastructure to support the above initiatives
There are natural areas, public beaches, attractions and other key sites, owned and managed by the public sector that provide important attractions in the area. Transport and public utilities are crucial for business and community development. These facilities represent crucial infrastructure for small tourism and other businesses and their maintenance is a significant public commitment. This objective involves providing and managing the appropriate infrastructure to enable businesses and communities to flourish.
The sustainable management of land and marine resources is important not only in international and national terms but also as a core resource for local tourism and the quality of life of residents. Small-scale visitor accommodation and other facilities in rural/remote areas rely on the quality of the local environment as a driver of visits; they are rarely destinations in their own right.
An over-riding priority is the conservation of environmentally sensitive areas but there is also concern about unprotected areas e.g. the ad hoc development across the large swathes of the (agricultural) landscape, the loss of indigenous plants and animals in unprotected areas and the loss of heritage sites. The Conservation Law has provisions for the protection of sensitive areas and endangered species but there are broader concerns about public respect for nature and the environment in general.
The NTMP refers to many of these concerns and the importance of the natural and built landscape as a tourism resource and a contributor to the quality of life. It also refers to the opportunities to encourage access where appropriate via trails (walking, cycling and/or riding) making use of existing public access routes and selected new acquisitions or land swaps.
NTMP Action point: Embed the requirement for EIAs within the Development Plan and Conservation Law for major projects, including the need for consultation with DOT.
NTMP Action point: Embed a national system of protected areas for sensitive environmental areas within the legislative framework (Conservation Law, Development Plan)
NTMP Action point: Co-ordinate support and prepare action plan to deal with the issues of beach erosion.
NTMP Action point: Devise and agree methods for measuring:
Numbers of divers at different sites;
Environmental impacts of diving/water sports;
Other environmental impacts including fishing; and
Diver motivations and satisfaction levels.
NTMP Action point: Develop a marine tourism management plan to cover all relevant sites and issues, incorporating the visitor management plan for Stingray City/Sandbar.
NTMP Action point: Institute new regulations to list and protect buildings and neighbourhoods of special interest.
NTMP Action point: Develop a formal design guide for the Cayman Islands which will act as a reference point for all new development, including tourism development.
NTMP Action point: Develop a network of trails and cycle ways throughout the Cayman Islands.
Action point: Ensure the key recommendations of the NTMP are actioned and embedded in relevant legislation.
Action point: Review controls and promotional programmes to encourage a better appreciation of, and a commitment to, the conservation of local natural resources outside and beyond specifically protected areas and species.
The issue of scattered development across agricultural and residential zones and the desire to see more rational, sustainable clustering of development – particularly along the coast - will require radical action. The Development Plan currently allows the Government to co-ordinate sub-divisions which would appear the most viable option27.
Action point: Review strategic approach to plot sub-divisions to encourage more sustainable clustered development in agricultural and low-density residential areas.
5.5.2 Priority area: Enhanced transport
A major priority for tourism and local residents is transport. There is a need for enhanced public transport along with cycle lanes on the main roads to meet environmental concerns and local demand. Public bus services have proved particularly difficult in the Eastern districts owing to the scale of the market.
There is also a need for selected road improvements (new links and refurbishments), subject to environmental assessment.
The gazetted line of the east-west corridor impacts on the Salina Reserve.
There is also a need for better traffic management in the main communities of the Eastern districts.
NTMP Action point: Develop a network of trails and cycle ways throughout the Cayman Islands.
NTMP Action point: Review public transport opportunities for internal travel by visitors as well as residents.
NTMP Action point: Improve tourist road signage on Grand Cayman.
Action point: Investigate opportunities to provide enhanced public bus28and ferry29 services to the Eastern districts e.g.:
New service agreement with provider(s);
Increasing the promotion of services;
Reviewing timetabling; and
Ensuring that the operation of bus service(s) is environmentally sound.
Action point: Review alignment of east-west road corridor to avoid environmentally sensitive areas. Action point: Institute traffic management at key points, notably Bodden Town.
5.5.3 Priority area: Enhanced public utilities and services
Safe, sustainable and consistent public utilities are essential for the local community and to attract new development.
Action point: Expedite piped water supplies and effective waste water treatment to the Eastern districts.
Action point: Encourage best conservation practices for energy, water, solid waste and waste water management.
Action point: Monitor the need and provision of community services such as police and health services in the light of residential and tourism development.
5.5.4 Priority area: Improved attractions and interpretation
Existing heritage/nature attractions like Pedro and QEII Botanic Gardens need to be regularly enhanced and upgraded as cultural assets for the community and as tourist attractions that will help draw visitors to the Eastern districts30. The priorities are:
Botanic gardens and the Blue Iguana site;
Pedro St James;
Guard House Park;
Wreck of 10 sails;
Mission house as focal point/TIC/park/crafts; and
NTMP Action point: Institute visitor audits at all attractions, including public beaches. Specific attention should be paid to staff training, retailing and the opportunity for the sale of local produce, interpretation of local heritage, provision for those with disabilities etc.
Action point: Capitalise on and support existing heritage based attractions in the Eastern districts as focal points for community and tourism reasons.
There are various opportunities for improving the interpretation of the landscape, wildlife and historic and cultural heritage of the Eastern districts, and to use this to strengthen the visitor experience and length of stay. It is important that interpretation includes messages about the sustainability objectives of the area.
Interpretation of local heritage is another area that is of direct benefit to local residents - including local school children through educational facilities and services, and visitors. Local community projects could include:
Self-guided trail leaflets with way marks;
Development of the Maritime Heritage Trail including the underwater options;
Traditional events; and
Guided tours of the area.
NTMP Action point: Draw up a comprehensive interpretation strategy (built, natural and maritime heritage and local culture) for the Cayman Islands which will identify the main themes, key sites and areas of interest and how best to present those stories.
Action point: Support local communities to get appropriate training and provide local interpretation of their culture and heritage.
5.6 Objective 6: Establish Go East structures, responsibilities and procedures This objective involves a new approach to implementation in order:
To co-ordinate the planning and approval of appropriate facilities and management of services (prior to development approval); and
To enable local control over development and involvement in business development.
5.6.1 Priority area: Establishing the legal status of Go East
This Go East strategy, subject to Ministerial approval from MoTEIC, should be put before the Cabinet for their consideration and approval. This is important as the programme is a cross-ministerial initiative.
The document should then become a formal ‘Material Consideration’ in Government decision-making including decisions by the CPA. This is in accordance with Article 5 of the Development and Planning Law (2005 Revision) and is akin to the procedures established for the Aggregates Policy.
On approval, the Strategy should be adopted by all relevant departments prior to being incorporated into succeeding legal and policy documents such as the Development Plan, currently under review.
Action point: Approve the Go East Strategy document and formalise as a ‘Material Consideration’ prior to incorporation into relevant legislation.
Although this is a Strategy that cuts across a number of departments and agencies, overall responsibility will remain with MoTEIC given its remit across four of the key driver/responsibilities.
Departmental responsibility will lie with DOT for policy formulation, advised by DOE (linked with NTMP and NSDS) and CIIB will have responsibility for technical assistance particularly in the area of investment/development policy.
These bodies will report to a Go East Joint Strategic Committee (JSC) made up of representatives of:
Health and Human Services;
District Committee representative(s); and
Co-opted parties as appropriate e.g. National Trust, Chamber of Commerce, private sector tourism interests.
The district committees will act as a central point within each of the Eastern districts to provide additional feedback and input into the policy development process and project vetting. These committees will provide for greater participation of district residents in this process, help to coordinate activities within the districts, and help to disseminate information to district residents.
The figure below illustrates the various departmental and policy relationships for Go East/JSC.
The terms of reference for the JSC should include:
Policy (delegated to DoT);
Procedures and technical assistance (delegated to CIIB);
Co-ordination of activities and events to support business development;
Review of all proposals i.e. ‘applications in principle’ against set criteria. These will include, but not be limited to:
Development scale and form;
Environmental impact of development, construction and operations (Appendix I);
Tourism development and management criteria (Appendix II);
Economic/employment impact; and
Recommendations on granting assistance;
Monitoring and reviewing priorities.
The main role of the JSC will be the strategic vetting of all initiatives in the Eastern districts.
There is a concern that many important ancillary issues are left unresolved when major development decisions are made. The ambition is to have these issues resolved at an early stage and their resolution will impact on any decision by the JSC to grant an approval in principle.
Developers may therefore be required to sign a Memorandum of Understanding prior to any agreement in principle, covering key issues which may not be covered by legal regulations. These may include, subject to nature and scale of the project:
Staff requirements (number and % Caymanian);
Staff training proposals;
Knowledge transfer initiatives;
Staff accommodation proposals;
Building and service contract tendering protocols;
Sourcing of food and other local supplies;
An obligatory contribution to local community development;
NTMP Action point: Coordinate agencies to ensure an integrated, consistent approach to the development and management of tourism i.e. planning in its broadest sense.
Action point: Constitute the JSC as the official agency for the implementation of the Go East Strategy with clear terms of reference. Action point: DOT should appoint/allocate an executive officer to co-ordinate and monitor the Go East strategy.
5.6.3 Priority area: Strategic decision-making process
All initiatives in the Eastern districts that require authorisation from a governmental or quasi governmental agency will require applicants give notice of 21 business days by submitting their proposals to the JSC. Applications will involve submitting prescribed details on a number of key factors (ownership, scale of project, etc). These applications will be processed and monitored by CIIB with the JSC’s advice being provided to the applicant and relevant authority within 21 business days.
If the project is deemed to require an Environmental/Social Impact Assessment under the proposed National Conservation Law, then the JSC is required to be a body consulted under that process. An Environmental/Social Impact Assessment might be triggered for example if the project
Has the potential to have a significant adverse effect on the environment generally (natural or built); or
Has the potential to have a significant adverse effect on the social fabric of the area.31
All applications will be considered/vetted by the JSC with the aim of deciding whether the initiative meets the goals of Go East. Initiatives will be circulated around JSC members prior to the validation meeting. This will give the opportunity for wider consultation, particularly by the District committees. Presentations and/or site visits may be appropriate as part of the consideration process.
In time, initiatives may become categorised with prescribed parameters which, if met, would go through ‘on the nod’.
The issues that the JSC may identify will need to be addressed by the applicant when seeking approval in principle.
If the JSC offers advice to the relevant regulatory authorities that an initiative is approved in principle, is that the initiative has received ‘Approval in Principle’, applicants will be signposted to the relevant regulatory authorities e.g. planning, DOE, licensing boards etc. Each initiative will need to satisfy the relevant regulations in the usual way; while ‘Approval in Principle’ should be a material consideration by regulatory authorities it does not infer overall consent. Business and/or financial support will be predicated on the project gaining approval in principle. (The incentives programme and criteria are attached as Appendix III)
Appropriate sanctions and/or compensation will have to be paid for any infringement of the Memorandum of Agreement.
The JSC will meet once a month, subject to level of applications.
Action point: Approve the proposed decision-making process and related criteria. 5.6.4 Priority area: Monitoring
Monitoring the success of the Go East Policy, especially as a test case for a new sustainable development framework, will be essential. This will involve monitoring environmental, social and economic conditions using selected indicators based on established baselines and agreed targets for policies and actions. This will involve assessing conditions, e.g. to determine levels of tourism and impact and evaluating, reviewing and modifying policies accordingly.
Relevant, measurable and clear indicators will need to be selected and reviewed at appropriate intervals. These might include32: