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Cayman Conversation 24 Apr, 2023 Follow News

Kenneth Bryan

By Cayman Conversations

Hon. Min. for Tourism and Ports, Kenneth Bryan, is currently ‘riding the waves and flying high’ among the top tourism officials in the Caribbean. And it could be argued that he has his eyes on a bigger prize…but in time to come.

The issue came up during an appearance by Mr Bryan in the current series of the programme Cayman Conversations hosted by Caymanian Times publisher Ralph Lewis.

Mr Bryan, who is the present chairman of the influential regional tourism umbrella body, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation(CTO), also sits at the helm of the newly re-branded Ministry of Tourism and Ports in the PACT coalition government.

That rebranding of his portfolio came in the maelstrom that surrounded the sudden and controversial departure of ex-Finance, Economic Affairs minister and Deputy Premier Chris Saunders. In some circles, Mr Bryan was seen as a strong favourite to take over the title of Deputy Premier, second in command in the PACT Cabinet but it went to Minister of Education Juliana O’Connor-Connolly in the post-Saunders Cabinet reshuffle.

“That is the choice of the Honourable Premier to do so. He’s my leader and he ultimately has the right to select who he chooses or he’s fit as his deputy. Now obviously the Honourable Juliana O’Connon-Connolly is an experienced legislator, a woman who has acted in the Deputy position, Premier for a short period of time, and Speaker of the House and a representative of the Sister Islands which is very important to me,” said in his endorsement.

But probed on the issue, during an in-depth interview about tourism, Mr Bryan opted to sidestep the direct matter with diplomatic aplomb but elaborated on the associated topic of leadership and communication.

“Would I have accepted the position? Yes, I would have in the interest of the country. But I believe the good Lord knows what He’s doing. There will be time for that growth. My only my own personal ambition was always to not consider leadership for at least 12 years within politics. So I wasn’t aspiring to do it.”

While clearly playing his part to keep PACT intact, the Tourism and Ports Minister admitted that he regrets the departure of his former Cabinet colleague Chris Saunders and said they remain in regular contact.

“I’m a bit sad that I’ve lost my colleague. But I’m in a state of mind now where you have to refocus. This was not what you wanted to happen for any administration, but we still have a job to do for the people and you must not lose focus. I speak to Chris, almost every other day to check on his well-being because it’s not an easy thing for any person to go through that. It’s not easy for us as a government but it is ultimately the leader’s choice - and respect to that. And I leave that for the Honourable Premier to comment on.”

In the meantime, Mr Bryan said, his focus remains on getting his current job done with leadership matters deferred for the longer term.

“In respect of me being the Deputy Premier, I can still do all the things I need to do for the good people of the Cayman Islands, particularly the good of George Town Central. More importantly, in my job as the Minister, I still have all the inputs in. When the Lord is ready, when He thinks it’s necessary to be there, I will get there. That’s how I see it”

The George Town Central MP, who has represented the district for the past six years, is however philosophical on the broader issue of leadership and his personal political ambitions.

“I got into politics because I believe I have leadership capabilities. I think everybody has that but you don’t do it just because you want to be in the position. You want to get a collaboration of persons who can work together. And I believe in a round table approach, it doesn’t matter who’s at the head of the table because we all have to have a say in it.”

And ‘having a say’ matters, Mr Bryan firmly believes, especially when it comes to communication, a skill he has applied in politics and which he is utilising to its full advantage in tourism promotion, at the local, regional and global levels.

“I’m a good communicator, I think I’m good at that. So a leader needs to be a good communicator, to keep the people that you represent informed about what the vision is,” he stated.

But on that point, he added this cautionary note:

“Sometimes you can have a great government but if the people don’t know, and they misunderstand what’s happening, you can lose the confidence of the people as well. So I think that it is one of the good skill sets for leadership. But you have to be able to convince the people that you’re capable of that. And trust me, if you’re a leader that is wanted, they will come for you.”

(The full Cayman Conversations interview with Min. Kenneth Bryan is available for replaying and downloading on the Caymanian Times website, Facebook page and YouTube channel)

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