Panton still concerned over cruise project

| 19/10/2015 | 50 Comments
Cayman News Service

Save Cayman march against the cruise port proposal

(CNS): The environment minister has said that after looking at the updated Outline Business Case for the cruise ship project, he still has some concerns over this proposed plan and the impact of the indirect damage from dredging to local reefs. Wayne Panton was overseas dealing with issues relating to his financial services portfolio when the premier announced, ahead of Cabinet discussions, that government was pressing ahead with the cruise project. He returned to the islands this week and was at Saturday’s port protest.

“This is an issue people are passion about and one can understand why they may have some concerns. There is no reason why they should not come out and do this. I am glad to be out here with them,” he said, adding that he would have been glad to speak to them had they wanted but he was not asked.

“However it turns out, I’m glad to see this — an example of democracy in our country — as government is about governing for the people and a part of that has to be about getting their views and sharing them in an open and safe manner.”

Panton said that there were no designs “cast in stone” and there was still time to reconsider other options, as he acknowledged the heavy toll the current plans would have on the environment.

Cayman News Service

Protest banner in the Save Cayman march against the cruise port proposal

“I have seen the updated business case and still have the concerns I had previously,” he told CNS. “I would like to see options considered and a design proposed that minimizes to a greater extent the dredging involved, which can address the main issue I’m concerned about — the amount of collateral damage.”

Panton has openly raised concerns about the cruise project, and although he has not expressed outright opposition to the development of piers, he has made it clear he would like to see a proposal that reduces the threat to the marine environment and that the economic case for the project must be compelling.

“In principle I could support a cruise berthing facility but I want to make sure that it is one that is going to have a significant benefit and contribution to the country over the damage caused,” he said, noting that any infrastructure development would cause some damage.

“The goal has to be that the cost of it is much less than the benefits created by it. What we have here today is a view from the people expressing that they are not sure that this is the case in what we have now in terms of the general proposal. It’s government’s role to listen to the views of the people and try to narrow down the design to one that minimises the impact.”

He said people felt strongly about both the environment and the economy but it was up to government to get the balance right.

Panton is the first minister for many years with a genuine interest in the environment portfolio and who is seeking to do what he can to address years of neglect. He not only steered the National Conservation Law through the LA in the face of resistance on the government benches as well as those in opposition, he is now supporting the Department of the Environment to press ahead with the enhanced marine parks.

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  1. Big Dog says:

    Will Mr. Panton stand for his principles and break ranks with his fellow PPM MLAs? That is the question.

    He doesn’t need any of them but they sure as heck need him. Even if they sometimes forget that……

  2. Anonymous says:

    Have the cruise lines actually said/put in writing that they will stop calling if they cannot dock? yes or no?
    I don’t know if we need a port or not, but it would be a lot easier to at least work towards a workable solution if we knew what was truly driving the push for such a major construction project…….i am pretty confident that cruise tourism is in fact a positive to our islands, the spend must trickle down, there are surely many people coming back as stayovers because they first visited us on a cruise, etc….but i am equally not so confident that we need to ‘pave paradise’ (and possibly worse) to such an extent as currently planned… seems the economic models dont really put us any better than we are now without piers……but surely what we must know is how many ships/calls are we threatened with losing if we dont build it……..that would be the 1st step.

    • Anonymous says:

      No. They have not.

      • Anonymous says:

        They haven’t put it in writing but it already started to happen, RCCL replaced Independence of the Seas with the new Harmony of the seas this coming year, so we will see 20 less calls from RCCL in 2016, which is the cruise line we want to keep with their bigger spenders! This will continue to happen if we ignore whats really happening in the cruise industry.

        • Anonymous says:

          ‘Bigger spenders’ ..on what exactly? What are they spending all their money on during this stop-over of several hours? That is one of the illusion’s driving miss-conception with cruise visitor’s. Show data that will demonstrate these people will spend more. Show actual facts.

          • Anonymous says:

            The BREA report is the data you’re asking for. It is compiled by feedback from actual tourists, visiting the actual destinations.That’s why the results are specific to each port of call and provide accurate comparisons about spending habits and time spent ashore etc.

            • Anonymous says:

              Thanks. Does the report indicate how much of the Cayman cruiser spend goes to Swiss watches and rum products made from locally grown cane?

      • Anonymous says:

        Bull crap they will build their ships but they will never provide a written guarantee that they will come. How in the world can they guarantee us numbers of people think about it and moreover how can you guarantee per passenger spend you can’t; all you can do is guesstimate. Is that good enough reasoning is that sound rationale for the enactment of a policy by the dumbfounded CIG to proceed. To proceed to create the biggest fiasco since the fiasco of the schools.

        Can these morons predict the weather now, how long will we suffer these power hungry people to continue to destroy what was founded upon the Seas Through sacrifice, through blood sweat and tears. Why do we allow these come lately so called educated fools to take our livelyhood in their hands and destroy it all for the sake of one upmanship and based on suppositions, assumptions and skin in the game.

        Pwc has said it, the data is not there to come to a conclusion of success with this project. Why then is the conflicted CIG going to hold discussions with the cruise lines?. Is it because there is indeed skin in the game ?. The previous administration was labeled as corrupt, gamblers etc, but what difference is there in this administration who seemingly again want to gamble our resources and our future on what ; “skin in the game”. Pardon me but the election mandate given to you was not to be destructive or are we again going to invoke divine intervention?.

        Since the numbers don’t clearly fit and the prediction is for wholesale destruction of a high number of acreage of coral, and further, there is no scientific evidence or otherwise that the glorious 7 mile brach will not be affected why then, why then would this present day government insist on going further.

        People you now have all the facts they have spent our money and now we have “the facts”. Think people think, what is the “skin in the game” and whom is this proverbial skin going to benefit long term?

        • Anonymous says:

          Sounds like somebody is upset daddy sold all the downtown stores.

          • Anonymous says:

            At least my family doesn’t have their hands out demanding that the govt keep us in business.

        • Anonymous says:

          By continuing to tender we will never get commitment from the cruise lines but as the GIG is seeking financial commitment as well as arrival numbers from the cruise lines for the dock I’m pretty sure we’ll see something in writing as there’s not too many companies that give a verbal commitment on millions of dollars. A dock would also guarantee our future in cruise tourism by making sure we can cater to the newer larger ships meaning all ships can come here instead of a limited number (which will become more limited over time) As far as passenger spend we can pretty much guarantee that if cruise numbers drop so will the income from cruise tourism regardless of average spend.

          No evidence or otherwise that the glorious 7 mile beach will not be affected? Other than the 25 + years of scientific reports supporting this or did you miss these? Lets not forget that PWC also used a huge overestimate of almost 50% of the divers using the GTH dive sites during a visit and the financial report still showed a minimum $112m benefit.

          Lets also look into the future of stay over tourism which everyone keeps focusing on to put all our money into, let me ask you this, what do you think will happen to stay over guests arrivals when Cuba opens to the US market in a few years? That’s right, its going to drop and unless we have something to back that up we may as well forget about tourism and the economy altogether.

          You clearly do not have the facts or you wouldn’t make such uneducated comments, just another victim of Save Caymans scare tactics and false facts!

        • Anonymous says:

          “How in the world can they guarantee us numbers of people….”

          By guaranteeing the number of ships that will call on Grand Cayman.
          Each ship carries a specific amount of people.
          Each person pays a specific amount of head tax.
          That’s how government earns revenue from cruise passengers.

          If the cruise lines are investors in the building of the cruise piers, they will make sure their ships keep calling on Cayman.
          That’s how they’ll recoup their investment.

  3. Anonymous says:

    What about Bo Millers’ idea that there are Caymanians who would help with a financial investment initiative ? Didn’t he say they could loan money or own the project and keep it as Caymanian investors? Here is their chance.

    • Anonymous says:

      The biggest problem with this idea is that it gets no commitment from the cruise lines, the buy in from RCCL and Carnival gets their commitment for future arrivals.

      • Anonymous says:

        What makes you think RCCL and Carnival want any part of a threesome?

        • Anonymous says:

          What makes you think they don’t? Cruise lines go where the money is. In terms of cruise itineraries, Cayman is located in the sweet spot between Cuba and Cozumel. We can either have piers and be a player in the game or we can stick with tenders and be bypassed.

          Cuba could be a lucrative opportunity for us. Yes, we know it’s opening up and for years to come it will be the new kid on the block that everyone wants to see and experience. A smart strategy would be to piggyback on that, so that cruises going to Cuba call on Cayman as well.

          Carnival, Norwegian and Royal are all building mega ships with 2 and 3 times the carrying capacity as the ones that stop here now. When that happens, if we can’t accommodate their bigger ships they will pass us by, just like the Oasis does now.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Everyone knows only a handful of downtown George Town business owners are the prime movers behind the port expansion and the Premiere is doing what they want. Based upon the track record of large governmental projects and the disastrous results the country would be much better served to focus its energy and recourses on the dump.

  5. Sunrise says:

    It is sad to know that some of the Caymanians are not concerned about the future of their ecosystem. I have read a lot of the comments presented by the readers and it seems that we have gone from doing what is right, to doing what is best only for the money. There are a lot of Caymanians that is very concerned about the future of these Islands. I for one, along with many other Caymanians signed the petition not to dredge the George Town harbor. We have other areas that can be used for a cruise berthing facility, why do we have to destroy our pristine, beautiful, George Town harbor for such a project? Some of us really do not care about the environment when it comes to money, but we have to proceed very delicately with this matter. This is a very serious matter, not only with the ecosystem but also with the debt that will be accumulated from this project. The other point that we have to consider is, the quality that will be afforded to our visitors when they do arrive here. There is no way that the downtown area can accommodate these ships, when they have their full capacity, in the high season. We cannot be so greedy that we cannot see the full picture, we have to upgrade the George Town area if we are going to have these Oasis and Mega ships coming to Grand Cayman. I am also in the tourism industry, but would hate to see our beautiful natural resources destroyed, just for the money.
    I have asked this question quite a few times but have never gotten an answer: was there any studies done at the Spotts dock? As far as I know, even as a kid growing up on Grand Cayman, we could not swim, dive, snorkel, in that area due to the currents there. In fact, there were a few instances where people have lost their lives in that area due to the strong currents. I personally think that we have to look into this area as a Cruise Berthing Facility, it would be a win win for everyone, except the downtown merchants of course. I am not against anyone doing business in George Town, neither am I against any of the owners personally. I just think that the downtown area will be overwhelmed by these bigger cruise ships, giving our guests an unpleasant experience. If our elected members are really concerned about the taxis, tour operators, etc., the Spotts dock will be beneficial to all. The passengers will have to get transportation to the beaches, downtown, etc., instead of just being disembarked in the George Town area. I say upgrade the Spotts facility to be a number one berthing facility in the Cayman Islands, and keep our beautiful harbors so that we can enjoy it for another 100 years!!
    I do not know the Minister of Environment personally, however I have been reading his remarks and his view points on this and other matters, and he seems to be genuinely concerned about his duties to his people. I am quite sure that he will make the right decision when it comes to our environment, and protect what has to be protected. Mr. Panton, please do what you think is right for these Islands and do not be swayed by some of the richer folks. We do admire your honesty and integrity, when making decisions for the Islands. We put you there to make the right decisions for the well being of everyone, not just a handful. Very proud to be a Caymanian, to say that I have the fullest respect for you and your decisions, not that I can say that for too many elected members. My hat off to you sir!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Keep GT harbor as the harbor it has always been. Why pretend that from 1858 we have been building boats and launching them from all over Cayman? They all came to Hogsty Bay to show them off. Why pretend that your group is concerned about the ecology or the environment .When everyone knows you’re trying to protect Red Sails Atlantis, Bodden Shipping, Home Gas, Toyota, Websters tour , Sunset House and Cathy Church owner and affiliates . When is enough, enough? Hmm ? Can you imagine the nasty things that have been said about Kirks or Hamaty or others? Don’t you go to church of God on sunday? Then cut it out . Stick with the issues and prove your point using videos ,words are being manipulated.
      Thank you ,Caymankind

      • Anonymous says:

        Forget about business interests- for ME this is about saving the most valuable ecological resource we have- our reef!!!

        • Anonymous says:

          0.006% of the reef

        • Anonymous says:

          A very very small portion of one of our reefs actually! We have many more reefs in the Cayman Islands in addition to this one, and only 0.006% of this one will be affected. Omlettes and eggs.

      • Anonymous. says:

        I totally agree, GT Harbour has always been for the purpose of cargo and then tourism I.e. Cruise tourism. All of these other tourism related businesses cropped up after to try to capitalize on the tourist dollar now they think they are in charge and has the audacity to try to prevent the government from developing the Harbour to facilitate the tourism cruisers. I haven’t travelled much but I would venture to say that this is probably one, of a few islands where people are even allowed to dive in the area where these huge ships drop anchors and turn their engines. This, is not the only spot on the island that all of you can go dive, and take pictures and whatever else you feel you have to do out there. Surely there are other dive sites around. We need to develop the port and I am encouraging thr government to get on with it.

      • Sunrise says:

        To Caymankind. Huh? What you said does not make any sense to me, can you please rephrase so we can understand. Not trying to be funny, but I really don’t get the point here!! By the way, I do not support any group or say any bad things about anyone, I just speak what is best for our Islands!!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    There are alternatives to the proposed port extension. We just need to think outside the box and ask the politicians to put the people’s needs above the requests of the business owners.

    • Anonymous says:

      Think outside the box? CIG? Outside the box is the unknown and maybe the incorruptible. No use to Cayman…

    • Diogenes says:

      Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other. ~Oscar Ameringer

  7. Anonymous says:

    I understand one of CIG’s concerns relates to how they can raise funding for the dock without having to hand control of the project over to one of the cruise lines. The irony here is that there is a potential scenario in which the two main advocates of the dock could suddenly find themselves shut out by businesses funded by someone like the Carnival group – that’s the way they’ve worked it elsewhere.

    • KARMA says:

      It’s called KARMA

    • Anonymous says:

      How can you ‘Troll’ someone for posting the truth? That’s the problem with this debate – too many idiots!

      • Anonymous says:

        Because that’s not the truth, if you had been to any other cruise ports in the Caribbean you would see the stores there are the same ones we already have in Cayman!

        • Anonymous says:

          2:03 Be more specific – which stores and in which resorts? I know that some of the GT brands operate in many other resorts but also they are only the ones with very close financial links to cruise lines (i.e. not Caymanian).

          This is the list from Grand Turk – Dufry, Colombian Emeralds, Effy Jewelers, Goodmark Jewelers, Ron Jon Surf Shop©, Diamonds International, Piranha Joes, Dizzy Donkey, Silver Emporium, Del Sol, Tanzinite Internationals, Joelle & Jake (Life is Good), Indigo Pearls, Goldsmith, The Trading Post at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. You can make up similar lists from numerous other cruise destinations.

          Falmouth has a Tortuga Rum Cake shop but as for the rest of the outlets there? They’re chain stores not local businesses and I can tell you for a fact that many of them are effectively owned by the cruise lines.

          If a major player like Carnival funds the dock the first attraction they will insist on having is a shopping mall (a bit like the ones already on many cruise ships) occupied by all their own businesses. Image Royal Watler on a much larger scale – that’s what they will build but local businesses won’t get a look in.

          The cruise lines only objective is to generate profit for themselves and their shareholders, they do not support local businesses – ask some of the local watersports operators here how badly they get screwed over. Even the tender operators haven’t been allowed by the cruise lines to link their rates to the prevailing fuel costs.

          • Anonymous says:

            Almost every port in the Caribbean has a Diamonds International, Tanzanite International, Effy, Milano Diamond Gallery, Del Sol and Cariloha and a few independent stores, none of which are owned by the cruise lines.

            The majority of the stores in Falmouth are independents and I know many of the owners as they also have stores in Ocho Rios and a couple of them have stores in Montego Bays, Rose Hall shops.

            The only reason a mall is built, as in Falmouth or Belize is because the port is not in a town. Cruise ships do not build stores, they help to finance docks, this is a common misconception. Having visited most Caribbean ports and worked on a number of ships, I know about the other ports.

            • Anonymous says:

              Falmouth is a town; one of the most historic in the Caribbean.

              • Anonymous says:

                But you can’t get onto the cruise dock unless you are a passenger or have permission from the Port Authority. The shops on the dock are for cruisers. Not stay overs or locals.

      • Anonymous says:

        Welcome to Cayman, where we rely on the outside world to make this place tick but our Govt. thinks they know everything and can handle it themselves without taking into account the people who actually give them their jobs.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Do the tramline proposal.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Wayne is the only sensible person in the entire LA

  10. Anonymous says:

    Finally, a voice of reason in CIG…

  11. Anonymous says:

    Panton for Premier in 2017!

    • Fred says:

      Lets see – he has spoken out against discrimination against LGBT, spoken out for the environment and pushed through an environment law deeply unpopular with developers, and is now speaking against a project recommended by cabinet – I reckon his political future is square root of zilch. He will be a poster boy for what happens to honest and modern Caymanians who feel they can represent their country’s best interests without pandering to vested interests and NIMBY views of their tiny constituency electorate. If you want to be Premier tell the voters what they want to hear, not what they need to hear, always look after your garrison first and foremost, and remember who is in charge.

    • Panton4Premier says:

      LOL look at the thumbs down. Kirk Bots hate Minister Panton for standing up and showing objectivity. He is asking the difficult questions Moses Alden and GT duty free retailers cannot answer.

  12. Anonymous says:

    How can Alden state the OBC is favorable? Thank you Wayne at least one of you read it properly

    • Diogenes says:

      “It would not be impossible to prove with sufficient repetition and a psychological understanding of the people concerned that a square is in fact a circle.”

      “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

      ― Joseph Goebbels

  13. Cass says:

    Well, Mr. Panton. Pick a side and stick to it! You are one of the elected leaders; don’t be afraid to go against the majority of your own party members. You have the support of the general populous, go for it! NO PORT, there are other ways of boosting the cruise business. Finally, with all do respect to our elected leaders; what are they doing about the G.T Landfill? Isn’t this the most “neglected” issue plaguing our entire Country? Why are we “progressing” with the Port and the Airport expansion when we have not cleaned up our garbage, so to speak?

    Surely, this is why we are considered a backward country!

    • Anonymous says:

      You seem to think everything in life is black and white and easy. You can’t just fix the dump with the click of a finger. You need a solution, a location to put the new waste management facility, find out how you can finance that solution because government does not have the borrowing capacity to finance it and then execution. The cruise pier is a lot easier because it is a money maker for governement and others. Governement can’t fund it, so they need a public/private partnership. Since it is a money making operation, there are many companies that will be willing to bid for the project.

      Whereas with the dump there is only one person able and willing to fund that project – Dart. But the way he wants to do it is not what is best for the country, just for them and their land. Therefore the government does not have many other options since this is not a money making operation. You have to either find someone to fund it, willing to lose money, or let Dart fund the project, but we will not get what is best for the island.

    • Anonymous says:

      9:13am..”there are other ways of boosting the cruise business”

      Pray tell us what those might be, Einstein. We’re all ears, the floor’s yours!

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