Financial services and tourism are inter-linked, says Dart VP

The key drivers of the Cayman Islands’ economy should not be viewed in isolation but in a more holistic way in recognition of the fact that they are all inter-linked, Chris Duggan, vice president, Dart Enterprises, told Cayman Funds Magazine at the Cayman Alternative Investment Summit, which took place in Grand Cayman last week (February 4-5).

Dart Enterprises is one of the key drivers of the conference, which is now an annual event in the Cayman calendar. This year’s event, which featured Jay Leno and Richard Branson as headline speakers, attracted more than 500 delegates, a record number for the conference.

Duggan said that while alternative investments and the financial services industry is not a core part of what Dart Enterprises does, the organisation, which is set to invest billions more in the Cayman Islands over the next decade, understands the importance of the sector to Cayman and that success in this sector boosts the economy in many more ways.

“We recognise the importance of the alternative investments industry to the Cayman Islands but also the importance of the Cayman Islands to that sector,” Duggan said. “Dart recognises this and we want to do whatever we can to grow that industry locally and globally. It is a critical driver of the economy here.”

In November this year, Dart will unveil a new 263-room Kimpton hotel plus almost 60 for-sale condominiums. Duggan stresses that projects such as this will drive both tourism and help grow the financial services industry on Cayman. But he stresses that the two things very much go hand in hand.

“People talk about tourism and the different types. They talk of health tourism or sports tourism but one of the biggest forms of tourism we have is financial services tourism,” Duggan said. “It injects so much into the economy. A conference such as this also helps fill the hotels and restaurants. Each sector of the economy drives each other, you can’t look at the economy as sectors in isolation.”

Duggan, a former president of the Chamber of Commerce on Cayman, also commented on some of the long-term risks faced by the Cayman Islands, especially given its reliance on financial services. Misinformed comments from politicians and others in the US or the UK that refer to Cayman as a tax haven can be problematic, he admitted.

But he said it was the duty of everyone familiar with the Cayman Islands to help dispel such myths and added that bodies such as Cayman Finance are increasingly doing a good job of leading a coordinated approach to such attacks.

“These are a threat and it can be difficult to dispel myths,” he said. “But you just have to handle them as they come up and the likes of Cayman Finance is doing great job in giving us a unified voice in all this.”

Duggan also noted that planning for the 2017 Cayman Alternative Investment Summit are already underway with the dates February 16-17, 2017, pencilled in for next year’s event.

Chris Duggan, Dart Enterprises, Cayman Alternative Investment Summit, Jay Leno, Richard Branson. Cayman

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