July 1, 2022

The Editor Speaks: The wedding dress disaster is not going away

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Colin WilsonwebWhat people are saying in other Caribbean countries about the wedding dress fiasco caused by Cayman Islands Customs Dept.

From Travelaol.yuku.com

“How to mess up Cayman’s tourism industry”

“Say goodbye to the income from people coming here for their wedding. Not on your life would I go through the hassle of paying deposits and showing receipts. The message is loud and clear. Do not come to the Cayman Islands for your wedding as we plan to hassle you at the airport over a few bucks in clothes rather than thanking you for all the hotel taxes, drinks, food, taxis, excursions and so on that you will be spending your money on.

“Complete idiocy. Banana republic all the way. I’m sure every other Caribbean country is smiling in delight right now at the thought of our tourists leaving for better destinations.”


“Both Cayman and Anguilla are British Overseas Territories. Each has its own constitution and laws, but we both have a very similar kind of government, with an appointed British Governor and elected local Ministers.

“Anguilla has a customs policy that gives tourists an exemption of US$400 per person on what they’re bringing with them. This seems to be interpreted very liberally, based on market value of our used clothing, not its original cost. But I’ve never hard of people being charged for wearing a gold Rolex. There’s nothing special about a wedding dress, except that it’s usually new. To Customs, it’s just “clothing.”

“The story got top billing in both Cayman newspapers. Whether Customs was wrong or right, it’s a public relations disaster for them. I’m glad to say I’ve never hard of anything like this happening in Anguilla.”


These are just some of the comments and they all refer to the story that appeared across all of Cayman’s media. iNews Cayman’s was headlined ““Wedding Day was nearly a day of woe in Cayman”.

My editorial on the subject published May 1 2014 headlined “Is it ignorance or stupidity by Cayman Customs?”

“Apparently, even for a wedding and you bring in a wedding bridal dress, even a hired one, it has to be declared up front.

“A member of the bridal party that included various guests from abroad that all contribute to Cayman Islands needy coffers, was told because she hadn’t declared the dress it would be confiscated, unless a duty of $500 was paid!”

The dress was finally returned to the owner after a payment of $60 with the bride’s mother being told she had to pay for her new underwear she was wearing.

If that wasn’t enough the Collector of Customs Samantha Bennett added her pompous statement, “Had the passenger properly declared the item up front, I’m sure this incident would not have been blown out of proportion.”

And what has the Department of Tourism done to pour some oil on these troubled waters?

They had better because the story is still making the rounds. And Cayman is looking more stupid every time it is being published. And with glee by the other Caribbean islands.

If Samantha Bennett is moved from her post I expect it will be to head up Government’s Public Relations!

Thankfully Chamber of Commerce President Johann Moxam has been reported by The Caymanian Compass this morning warning that charging deposits on wedding clothes risked damaging Cayman’s reputation as a location for destination weddings and called for a review of the legislation to create a more friendly environment.

“Last week’s unfortunate visitor experience should encourage a full review of the Customs Law and Regulations and the list of duty free imported goods to ensure that we are creating a business friendly climate and not potentially ruining what is meant to be a joyous and memorable occasion

“The current law and regulations certainly do not represent the Caymankind wedding experience that we are trying to promote. The customs officials were doing their jobs in accordance with the law but this demonstrates the disconnect between creating a business friendly climate versus the inconsistent, discretionary based approach to collect revenue at any cost,” Mr. Moxam said.

Even some of Cayman’s wedding planers were unaware, until this incident that visitors arriving for a wedding could be asked to leave a deposit on their clothing.

To add more confusion to all of this if you go to the Cayman Islands Customs website under Allowances: (http://www.customs.gov.ky/portal/page?_pageid=3461,6675242&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL)

Sub- heading Duty free allowances Item 5 Baggage and Household effects it says:

“consisting of the following to the satisfaction of the proper officer, subject to the condition that articles admitted free of duty under this provision will, if not previously consumed or used up, be re –exported at the end of the importer’s stay in the Islands, and will not, while in the island be sold, hired, lent or otherwise disposed of to other persons for a period of at least two years, and also subject to any other conditions which the Collector may see fit to impose –

Items accompanying a passenger –

“Tourist’s and other visitors’ wearing apparel, articles of personal adornment and other personal effects, which, to the satisfaction of the proper officer, are reasonable for the period of the intended visit.”

That to me says the wedding dress comes under that category and therefore is Duty Free!!





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