By Lindsey Turnbull
Cayman’s Department of Commerce and Investment has issued an increasing number of Trade & Business Licenses year-on-year in recent times and, despite the obvious hit to Cayman’s tourism industry with borders closed, the pandemic has not slowed down the volumes of people wishing to either renew or take out a new license to conduct business.
In 2019, the Department, now a unit of the Ministry of Finance and Commerce, saw 11,634 such applications processed (approved, refused and deferred). This soared to 14,890 for 2020 and the volumes have not slowed down in 2021, with 9,003 applications to the end of July.
Ryan Rajkumarsingh, Director, Department of Commerce and Investment, confirmed: “For an island that is closed, there is so much activity.”
Mr. Rajkumarsingh gave some further perspective when he said, internally, Cayman had seen an increase in online businesses “where persons are being very entrepreneurial”.
“Over 85 per cent of these new online businesses are online retailers where customers order items from a website (such as Amazon) and these businesses bring in the items, often as a courier service, right to your door,” he explained.
The demand has been created for such services by customers who would normally physically go abroad to places such as Miami to do their shopping and then bring items back with them. Since persons have not been able to shop abroad, there has been a rise of such businesses, Mr. Rajkumarsingh said.
Other types of business that have continued to increase in T&B renewal or new applications include, perhaps surprisingly, restaurants and cafés, while more likely to continue to serve local residents during the pandemic and therefore not so heavily dependent on tourists, showed no let up in the number of T&B renewals and new applications. In 2019 the Board dealt with 434 applications in this sector, which rose to 660 in 2020 and is at 352 for 2021 to the end of July.
Mr. Rajkumarsingh said, putting these figures into perspective, there is now approximately one business for every fourth Caymanian on island.
But entrepreneurial spirit must be balanced by confronting the reality that Government will not progress to the next phase of opening (a limited number of tourists arriving planned for 9th September 2021) until 80 per cent of the population has been doubly vaccinated. Government has said there are 71,106 people in the Cayman Islands. Of these, currently 50,308 or 71 per cent have had one jab and 68 per cent (48,111) have completed the two-dose course. This means 6,577 people need to get their second jab and 8,774 people need to be doubly vaccinated in just five weeks. Vaccinations would have to speed up considerably in the immediate future to meet Government’s 80 per cent requirement.