Log In

Reset Password

Cayman Government scolded over tourism payment scandal

First Prev 1 2 Next Last
Adrian White, Cayman’s senior tourism official in the UK (File photograph)

Cayman Islands Tourism officials have been ordered to hand over documents linked to a controversial sponsorship strategy, following a 20-month freedom of information battle with TheCayman Compass, the news organisation has reported.

An article written by former Bermudareporter James Whittaker details how the Cayman ombudsman has rejected the government’s claim that requested information was commercially sensitive or protected as trade secrets that could not be shared with the public.

The Compass reported that the department used more than half-a-million dollars of taxpayer funds to sponsor British sports teams over a period of three years in an apparent effort to boost tourism from the UK.

Some of the deals involve televised teams including London Irish Rugby Club, Portsmouth FC and Gloucestershire County Cricket Club.

But others include small amateur sports clubs that “attract almost no media coverage or support beyond a small coterie of family and friends”. Chief among those is the Old Cranleighan Hockey Club.

While some redacted information had been previously supplied, the ombudsman reprimanded the Cayman Department of Tourism for its slow and selective response, saying it was not an acceptable way to answer freedom of information requests.

The Compass reported: “One of the teams sponsored was a recreational field hockey team, with no fanbase, linked to Adrian White, Cayman’s senior tourism official in the UK.

“Those details emerged in February of this year following a Compass open records request, filed 12 months earlier. However, the department withheld details of the contracts, what it got in return and any business case or value for money analysis in its response.

“Tourism leaders said at that time that they were unaware of the connection between White and the Old Cranleighan Hockey Club, which received £10,000-a-year from government over the three years covered in the response, until the Compass‘s investigation.”

The Compass added that: “White is linked to the club, has played for its teams and coached in its junior programme. His LinkedIn profile indicates he attended the affiliated Cranleigh School.

“White’s involvement with the Surrey hockey team raises serious questions about how the teams that benefited from Cayman Islands sponsorship money were selected.

“While the records provided in response to the Compass freedom of information request included the annual payments made by the Department of Tourism to each club, there were limited details about what the department or the country got in return.”

A Department of Tourism spokesperson said it took potential conflicts of interest seriously and was reviewing the matter. It has 45 days to indicate if it intends to appeal the ombudsman’s ruling.

Selling Cayman: a tourism photo of the Cayman Islands

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published September 15, 2023 at 4:00 pm (Updated September 17, 2023 at 6:49 pm)

Cayman Government scolded over tourism payment scandal

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon