McKeeva Bush, the first premier to be elected to the Cayman Islands, is focusing on tourism to bolster the sagging economy in one of the world’s most noted financial centers.
During the Cayman Fashion Soltice festivities at the Marriott Hotel recently, the head of government said he came to support promoter, Cindy Rosen-Jones, and to see how he could best add the event to the country’s tourism package.
In addition to the annual Jazz festival, the politician said this would help to attract tourist back to the island that suffered from a trickled-down effect of the worldwide financial crisis.
The former opposition leader, who was sworn in just over one year ago, said the country was carrying a deficit they never had experienced before he became premier. However, he worked to reduce the shortfall from $81M out of a $500M budget, bringing it down to $66M.
But according to Bush, even though there is still some form of unemployment in the Cayman Islands, the recovery he added, is moving very well, with September ending very strong from the climb of tourism.
“We believe we will reach our mark this year with 300,000 airline visitors, so we are holding our own. We are blessed despite a bit of unemployment in various sectors due to the world’s economy that had a serious effect on us because of what we do.
“We also had some bad policies in place from the last government that caused us to loose business in countries like Canada, Luxemburg and Ireland” said Bush, adding that he was working to rectify this.
The longest serving politician in the Cayman Islands, Bush, who is referred as the ‘Father of the House” explained that because the Cayman is a world financial center many of the island’s employees comprise of foreign nationals.
The 2010 Census revealed that Caymanians are just over 50 percent of the workforce, with 20,000 work permits in place that help to fill positions such as hedge fund managers, accountants and legal secretaries.
This is the case, because the territory that is made up of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman is service-orientated, but lacks the needed skills to fill these positions.
“We are not a manufacturing or production base. We market our country as an international financial center, and tourist destination,” said Bush who has served on the Executive Council as the minister of health and human services, and the minister of tourism environment and transport.
The former founding member of the United Democratic Party was also the leader of government business, and minister for the environment, development and commerce.