The minister reconsiders his plan to reduce the number of cruises

Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan

(CNS): The government’s PACT cruise policy may have shifted away from reducing the number of cruise passengers visiting the Cayman Islands by the end of 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. close the borders. Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan said on Friday he wanted to spread visitors across the island to ease pressures on attraction infrastructure rather than cut annual staffing levels. He said it was important that policy changes did not negatively impact opportunities for Caymanians.

Speaking at last week’s press conference, where the government announced the removal of remaining pandemic-related restrictions, Bryan said since taking over as tourism minister he has understood more on the industry.

“I know there is a position to reduce the number of cruise tourists,” he said, noting that this was largely to mitigate the impact on attractions and infrastructure, but warned that reducing the number could have a negative effect on stakeholders. He said he was assessing whether or not it would be possible to reduce negative environmental impacts and overcrowded attractions without costing local business owners money.

“One of the issues we have is disbursing the numbers we have,” he said. But rather than try to reduce the number of arriving passengers, he said he now wanted to see if tourists could be flown somewhere other than Stingray. City or Seven Mile Beach. Explaining his revised thinking on the “quality over quantity” policy, he hinted that he wanted both. He said the spread of cruise passengers around the island would benefit Caymanian tourism businesses and reduce pressures.

Bryan said he hopes to get funding in the next budget to help local stakeholders and entrepreneurs branch out and offer different tourism products. However, as cruise tourism has yet to return to 2019 levels, there is a respite to find solutions.

“There is going to be a bit of a change from the reduction, still focusing on quality… if we can find a better solution by pushing them to different areas and spreading visitors to have less impact on the environment and traffic,” the minister said. .

Bryan denied he was under pressure from the cruise industry over the lack of docking facilities here, saying he made it clear to cruise lines that there would be no developed docks on Grand Cayman .

In light of the minister’s recent enthusiasm to revisiting the idea of ​​floating docks for the port of George Town, the CNS asked him about the dredging that would be involved. Bryan replied that he was only considering the idea and had not discussed it with his cabinet colleagues, including Premier Wayne Panton, who is the minister for sustainable development.

Panton said that when he was in office previously, the issue of floating piers was considered and it was decided that such a proposal was not suitable for George Town, as he dismissed Bryan’s comments on piers as a simple curiosity. He also noted that the concept was not discussed because he and Bryan traveled.

“At least I have a very good understanding of what that entails. And yeah, it’s not as simple as it looks,” Panton said, noting that, from what he had learned, “having this kind of setup in an open port on the ocean does not work very well”.

In a 2015 report, Proposed Cruise Docking Facility, AppA-Alternatives Assessment, the consultants examined the feasibility of floating cruise docks, including the claim that they would require no dredging. “Baird is concerned that the project concept is technically feasible without dredging, particularly given the requirement to anchor the piers securely in very deep waters off ‘The Wall’,” the consultants found.

Baird also questioned “the ability to develop a sufficiently robust mooring system given the significant water depths in which the floating piles would extend.” In addition, the proposed concept is unique, and unprecedented, for a site exposed to cyclonic waves.

Speaking more broadly on the cruise tourism product and the government’s policy on it, Panton said he wanted to get the most out of cruise tourism, which could result in lower numbers than in 2019. But he stressed that the government was not aiming to grow the number of cruise passengers, as it would have done with a cruise port, where projections were for more than 2.4 million people a year.

“There’s a big difference between saying we could live with 1.7 million visitors a year and getting better value for money and providing a better experience than saying we’re aiming for 2.4 million people. That is absolutely not our goal at all,” Panton added.

The Baird report in the CDS Library.
Section 4.3 (p27) and Appendix A.4 (p46) discuss the concept of floating piles.

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