2020 has certainly been a unique year in history. Covid-19 has re-established how the world interacts and in the Cayman Islands, closed borders have meant a totally different way of life for residents and tourists alike. It would be easy to dwell on the negative aspects of the global pandemic. Tourism has taken a massive blow, especially for countries like the Cayman Islands, who rely on tourism for a significant contribution to the economy and the general ‘laid back island’ feel. However, there have been many positive outcomes here in Cayman, during 2020:
Solidarity and good governance – the Cayman Islands was quick to respond to the threat posed by Covid-19. Closing the borders was a necessary decision and one that automatically closed the tourism industry. 8 months on and the Cayman Islands remains closed to mass arrivals yet the hospitals and general public remain free from Covid-19, with one of the best ‘low rate’ records in the world. A recent article in the Cayman Compass (9th December 2020) indicates a retraction forecast in GDP to -7.8% but rebounding in 2021 to 5.1%. The article states:
“Cayman’s “really strong” economic and fiscal position means it is the best-placed country in the Caribbean region to respond meaningfully to the current crisis, according to economist Marla Dukharan.”
The swift response from the Cayman Islands Government and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office to Covid-19 was supported by: expert scientific advisory; crucial private sector support; and a rallying response from the residents of the Cayman Islands, which has resulted in a strategy entrenched in solidarity and proactive action. Cayman shows repeatedly, that in the face of threat and disaster, everyone can come together to improve a bad situation, leaving the nation in a strong position as 2021 looms closer.
Finance and tech industries shine – Cayman’s most important economic pillar, the financial services industry, has navigated the extremes of Covid-19 smoothly. Despite 7% of the population leaving the Cayman Islands in 2020, the financial services sector has remain stoical. The large corporations in Cayman quickly adapted to working from home and it was business as usual. The removal of the Cayman Islands from the EU Tax Haven Black List on 6th October 2020, was a further iteration of Cayman’s professionalism in this sector and the future in Cayman is certainly brighter than many other nations.
Sense of community – ‘Cayman Kind’ was developed as an advertising slogan in 2009 by the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism and was prompted by the genuine warmth and community-led spirit of Caymanians. Covid-19 left a raft of unemployed, displaced permit holders, as air bridges became increasingly more difficult. The collective altruism and concern of the community for fellow residents was overwhelming and soon volunteers and the private sector rallied to ensure those in need receive (and continue to receive) support, in the form of food, clothing and support for home schooling. Non-profit organizations, private entities and individuals came together, in true Cayman-Kind style, to create a safety net for this suddenly and unexpected in need.
It would be easy to look at the many negatives associated with 2020 and the doom and gloom that Covid-19 has left in it’s wake. However, for those living and working in the Cayman Islands, there is also significant light at the end of the tunnel, as we head into 2021 and many can look back with pride at how this global pandemic was handled here in Cayman.