(CMR) During Friday's press briefing, the government has indicated that it will provide more than 1,000 unemployed Caymanian tourist workers with $1,000 per month for three months to assist them during the COVID-19 shutdown. This comes as tourism-dependent economies around the world are collapsing.
The premier, Alden McLaughlin, made the announcement today at the press briefing where he explained that the government is aware that the collapse of the tourism industry has impacted at least 1,000 Caymanians.
He shared that during this difficult time they are proposing this financial assistance to assist them in getting through this epidemic and the challenges they face. Explaining the need for it he shared:
“I think everyone knows painfully that the lockdown has hit our tourism industry very hard, harder than anywhere else.”
The government had been asking unemployed Caymanians in tourism to register online to provide some basic information about their current job situation and proof of status. Initially, many were unsure of how this information would be utilized. However, it has now been disclosed that registered persons will be eligible for a three-month payment for unemployed Caymanians. Thus far some 1,000 persons have registered.
The deadline for registration was extended to Sunday, June 7 at 11:59 pm.
The entire region has been impacted and The World Economic Forum has indicated that some countries have experienced in a significant drop in their tourism revenue. For example, the Bahamas generation 70% of its GDP from tourism.
Most of the Caribbean has little to no economic diversification compounding the impact of border closures. They shared that:
“Today, airports and hotels here are shuttered, unemployment throughout the region is soaring, and nobody knows when these tourism sector jobs may come back. … the Caribbean countries of Barbados, Belize and the Bahamas are among the most exposed in the world to the sudden pause in global tourism.”
S&P Global Ratings have already downgraded the Bahamas and Belize last month to junk status and lowered credit outlooks in Aruba, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica to negative.
Most of these countries welcome anywhere from 12,000 – 20,000 tourists per day via cruise ships alone. Some countries have had no arrivals since February and there's no end to the shutdown in the foreseeable future. Even larger countries like Mexico are suffering.
Some countries in the region have begun opening including Jamaica and Aruba. The premier has indicated he does not wish to open prematurely and it will likely be late in 2020 before we do.
Cayman registered 42,851 air arrivals in January and 50,707 in February. The tourism dollar is very strong and provides income for anywhere from 15-20% of the GDP for the Cayman Islands. However, the financial services industry represents 58-60% of the countries pre-COVID-19 GDP; but now represents some 80% since the end of March 2020.
Some tourist businesses such as Atlantis Submarine and Don Foster Dive Shop have permanently closed down as a result of the fallout from the pandemic.