Opposition to join cruise PIR campaign

| 10/09/2018 | 85 Comments
Cayman cruise, Cayman News Service

Cayman cruise ship passengers visit George Town

(CNS): It was almost midnight on Thursday, before the Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller stood to wind up the debate on his motion calling on government to initiate a referendum on the proposed cruise port development. Following the government’s indication that it was not supporting the call for a national vote, Miller said the opposition would now back the campaign for a people-initiated referendum (PIR). He accused government of misleading the public about the numbers relating to the project and  said it had based the decision to press ahead on reports and surveys with conflicting findings.

Above all, Miller said, government had not identified what the problem with cruise tourism really is and whether piers actually are the solution.

Following another weekend where volunteers were out and about collecting signatures from registered voters, they told CNS Monday that they now had around 1,900 signatures from electors supporting the referendum, more than one-third of the number needed less than two weeks into the campaign.

Though the opposition’s efforts to persuade government to support a referendum failed, which was expected, it at least led to a little more information being presented for the people, Miller said. The debate allowed some of the major claims being made by government about the economic benefits the berthing facility will bring to be challenged by the opposition and raised more questions for the public to consider.

One such claim being made by government is the increase in the time passengers will be in port, which, although unsubstantiated, is a fundamental driving force behind the decision to press ahead with the project.

During his contribution to the debate Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said that the development of a dock would lead to cruise ships remaining in George Town for up to eight hours, opening up the opportunity for local operators to sell more tours that could be longer and further afield.

But Miller questioned how this could possibly be true. He pointed out that there is no port of call in our region where the passengers ever disembark for even as much as five hours, and the average stay of four hours in Grand Cayman for cruise visitors is similar to destinations that have piers, where the stay is around 4.1-4.3 hours. More importantly, he noted, the time ships actually spend in ports is dependent on ship schedules, not piers.

The opposition leader also queried the figures about the claimed increase in spending, and said the minister was ignoring the warnings in the environmental impact assessment. While the EIA said there was unlikely to be any sediment impact to Seven Mile Beach during typical Nor’wester conditions, it warned of other “major negative impacts” which would result in significant “permanent and irreversible damage”. 

Miller repeatedly challenged government to look at what the issues actually are relating to the real negative impacts on the potential growth of the cruise sector, and having found what the real problems are, then look for real solutions.

He argued that the pier was not going to get passengers on and off the ships very much quicker than tendering because they will still have to clear security and then walk into George Town. He said that having shore-side security clearance, a modern tender fleet and a much better welcome for the visitors would all be more beneficial than piers.

The opposition leader pointed to the historic pressure and abuse from cruise lines in many ports, none of which have particularly benefited from developing costly piers. He said this pressure would always continue because it gives the powerful cruise companies leverage over the destinations along the routes they ply.

But in the end, if the passengers want to come to Cayman — and it remains one of the most popular ports of calls in the Caribbean — then the ships will come, he said.

The vote came down as expected: the eleven MLAs on the government benches who were in the chamber at the time all voted against the call for a referendum, while all five opposition members plus the independent member voted against.

Austin Harris, the only member of the government benches who had persistently raised his concerns about the project on the campaign trail, told the LA during his debate that he had changed his mind and was now in full support of the project.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Mr Suckoo made mention of the letter that going around in the public during his debate and the speaker stopped him and ordered that what he said be removed from the record and the video recording edited. Mr Suckoo had barely said anything when he was stopped, is this not an attempt to destroy evidence by the speaker, is that not a potential crime?

  2. Anonymous says:

    @7:53

    Asinine?
    Fake news?

    Do you know something we dont know? If so, how?
    Please enlighten us.

    The referenced leaks could very well be true, and CIG’s handling of the proposed port is doing them nor the country any favours.
    (They won’t / can’t even break silence to correct any supposed misinformation floating around.)

    This is the very problem – the government is saying NOTHING about what will be the most significant capital works project in the HISTORY of this country – so who knows what is brewing behind the scenes.

    Nevertheless, they expect us to just sit back and TRUST them to get it right.

    Sorry, but the schools debacle ($50M estimate to $110M actual cost) was all the evidence required to prove this bunch cannot be trusted – as just one example.

    Fool me twice, shame on me.
    (This would be the country’s 7th or 8th time.)

    I wouldn’t even trust MYSELF as Premier or elected official with such a sensitive, irreversible, and dangerous decision that is the proposed “cruise berthing facilities”.
    To do so would be the height of arrogance AND disrespect to my fellow Caymanians.

    Let’s have a REFERENDUM.

    – Whodatis

    *Btw, some of us have been calling for one long before it was trending.

  3. Anonymous says:

    What I don’t understand is why the entire focus on pleasing THEM vs. residents? Oh, poor visitors, we need to bend over an welcome them with red carpet.
    It is financial industry that feeds you, not tourism.
    If they have to swim to the shore,so be it. It would be good for them anyway.

    • Anonymous says:

      There is a widely held misconception that tourism brings in the same dollar value as the financial services industry, but it’s not even a third in reality. These folks haven’t read the public Budget notes and can’t see that these cruise arrivals barely move the needle on anything. With Total Landing fees of only $3mln bucks last year, it doesn’t even offset the unpaid landing fees by CAL to CIAA!

    • Anonymous says:

      The self-appointed Unity Cabinet, haven’t thought to quantify the costs (financial/environmental/continuum mechanics/quality of life/pollution/congestion/etc) from repelling past and future would-be stayover guests and/or current and prospective residents. They don’t even care if this bluewater engineering marvel (without precedent) is realistic or whether any insurance company would warranty replacement in a storm or an undersea structural failure – stemming from the cavernous rock identified in previous EIA that they aim to anchor into. Most have a career horizon of less than three years and are determined to be part of some kind of payout on this infrastructure play. None of the proponents want to enact the Standards in Public Life Law (2014) which would give the now-idle Commission the power to open enquiries into conflicts and corrupt arrangements, even with the comparatively lenient penalties of $10-25,000 fines and up to two years imprisonment.

    • Anonymous says:

      Financial services vs. tourism

      “We were able to show government that they spend twice as much on tourism as they do on financial services. And for every dollar they spend on financial services, they roughly receive around $18 from financial services. Comparably with tourism, they receive less than $2 in revenue,” Mr. Scott said.

      “The financial services industry is the primary driver of our economy. It is a primary contributor to GDP.
      Despite perceptions from some populist corners, the financial services workforce is overwhelmingly Caymanian (62 percent, compared to 47 percent among the entire labor force).

      In terms of generating economic activity, financial services punches far above its weight, accounting for 52 percent (read: most) of Cayman’s gross domestic product. Similarly, contributions from the financial services sector amount to 42 percent of government’s revenue – which, in turn, is transformed into government spending.”

      The finance industry, together with the related accounting and legal services sectors, contributed more than half (about 52 percent) of Cayman’s gross domestic product of $2.6 billion in 2015, according to the Economics and Statistics Office.

      Mr. Scott says there are several other reasons why the vital role of the industry for the economy, the labor market and government revenue is not well understood by the general public.

      “One reason is if you are using intellect to add value, it is not something so physical and tangible. In tourism, you have tourists coming off an airplane, eating in restaurants and in hotels. That gives us a sense of the industry. If you look at the construction industry, you physically see something being built,” Mr. Scott said. “One of the things that we recognize, because of the nature of the work that we do, it is important for us to create a visualization around it.”

      …he noted that government has released a lot more information in support of expenditures on tourism than in support of the financial industry.

      “That sends an inaccurate signal to the community to the importance in relative terms,” he said.

      https://www.caymancompass.com/2018/01/25/financial-services-industry-caymans-invisible-giant/#

  4. Anonymous says:

    Food for thought, this is from an article from 2011.

    ““I would like to know if the governor, through the secretary of state, has given the premier authority to negotiate with a foreign country,” said People’s Progressive Movement member for East End Arden McLean. According to McLean, the Cayman Islands Constitution provides that the government must secure permission from both the governor and the secretary of state to negotiate with foreign governments.”

    https://www.caribjournal.com/2011/06/22/questions-over-cayman-chinese-port-deal/#

    Can anyone verify and is it still relevant that the constitution says this and if so has the “Governor” given permission? Can this be proven?

  5. Ron Ebanks says:

    Mr Austin is still mixing marl road politics with Cayman politics, and still believe that he is on the radio talking his horse shit .

  6. Anonymous says:

    IF the docks are a good idea, why is Moses and Gov so frightened of a referendum? Surely when it is put to the test it will gain a full public-backed mandate?

    Both sides should support a referendum, IF both sides genuinely think they are right.

    Gov takes decisions in interests of its people. This Gov is a coalition and therefore doesn’t have a clear mandate. The people will end up paying for this for decades, and their children. They need a say.

  7. Anonymous says:

    If the studies on time ashore Include the hour and a half minimum that it takes standing in line while “onshore” to get on the tender then things are way worse than they appear.

    • Anonymous says:

      Very true. The tenders are taking income away from all the potential tour operators and vendors.

      • Anonymous says:

        False. The all-you-can consume meal and beverage plans (some with fixed seating times), along with slot machines are what motivate liners and passengers to get back out to sea.

      • Anonymous says:

        @8:22 “The tenders are taking income away from all the potential tour operators and vendors.” Exactly how are they doing so? They don’t tender straight to SMB or Stingray City.

    • Anonymous says:

      @7:32 As someone who has cruised to Cayman, it does not take an hour and a half to get on a tender, it took my wife and I less than 30 minutes. Where are you getting your numbers?

    • Anonymous says:

      Having been on several of these ships, the bottle neck that will never change, is the single door on the side of the ship to enter or leave the ship via it’s internal logjams of limited elevator capacity, dawdling geriatric passengers, and narrow passageways. Even then, it doesn’t take 1.5 hours.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Moses Tara and Austin made Ezzard and his goons sound like a bunch of little children. Absolutelt dominated and very clear that this dock is the right choice for Caymanians

    • Anonymous says:

      Ezzard made Moses,Tara and Austin look like they are completely out of touch with the country’s real needs. The country burns and they babble about a dock with already over a million cruise visitors reaching Cayman annually.

    • Anonymous says:

      Poor Ezzard he was trying to talk about things he has no clue about. He should stick to figuring out the hospital problems since he has some cred on that.

    • Anonymous says:

      More like bullys trying to get their way.

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      Anonymous 7:15am , are you implying that because the three of them said it , that it is the fact and true . Supposedly they told you that you are an idiot, would you then believe them , I would . So then don’t believe everything a politician says .

  9. Anonymous says:

    Proof is in the pudding:

    “How China Got Sri Lanka to Cough Up a Port”

    “Mr. Rajapaksa was voted out of office in 2015, but Sri Lanka’s new government struggled to make payments on the debt he had taken on. Under heavy pressure and after months of negotiations with the Chinese, the government handed over the port and 15,000 acres of land around it for 99 years in December.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/25/world/asia/china-sri-lanka-port.html

    • Anonymous says:

      The Chinese should be avoided, look at what they did to the Bahamians who invested in the big resort there.

      • Anonymous says:

        Just the Baha Mar, they haven’t stopped there. A large chunk of downtown Nassau is now in Chinese hands. Coming soon to the Cayman Islands, well at least its either them or Dart. At this point I can’t decide which is worse.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I will be signing the petition. Why? We don’t need the dock it’s that simple. Tell the elected they can go cull iguana if they want to line their own pockets that bad.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The LEAKS have started!:

    According to reliable sources, the port will no longer be developed at the originally proposed site of Hog Sty Bay.

    Actual location will be the Red Bay location and will include some degree of cable car transport.

    Cargo facility will be upgraded at current location.

    So far no update on whether new EIA plan has been performed for location change.

    Justification for change and proposal seems to rest on accompanying requirement to alleviate congestion in GT and improve public transport network for all of Grand Cayman.

    (If the above doesn’t scream “WE NEED A REFERENDUM” to any reader I suggest you call McKeeva for some reassurance.)

    • Anonymous says:

      What an asinine post 1.20
      Fake news stirring trouble to no benefit.
      Presumably at 1.20am you were substance impaired.

    • Anonymous says:

      LOL! your funny

    • Anonymous says:

      What’s that sound? You mean that air leaking out your head? Don’t add more BS rhetoric to the pile, it already stinks enough!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Tara was on fire with her speech. She put all the opposition in their places. Called them out on going against this project simply to try get the attention they crave for personal and political gain. They are NOT putting country first which is pathetic. Each and every one of them have in the past campaigned for the docks and now that they are not in power they have changed their mind. We need the jobs and the cruise industry. Crime will spike if it does not happen, believe me. These guys will make the money one way or the other.

    • Anonymous says:

      Threatening us with crime if the dock isn’t built. What a scumbag you are!

    • Anonymous says:

      I’ve refrained from commenting on this entire fiasco re the port… but that ends today. Firstly, I’ve signed the petition for us to have a referendum. Why? The Cayman people need to have a say. This is a democracy. Secondly, I have never, and I am not saying that we do not need a berthing facility. BUT what we need is the BEST feasible option. Not the option that will suit the ones in office at the moment and their families. We need proper Environmental Assessments done, we need the right educated people over seeing this project. We need to find the best location for this facility. The ones pushing for this project to move ahead right now are not looking at the bigger picture. be transparent with your people, let us know the real COST and details, let us know exactly what we are signing up for.

      We don’t exactly have a good history with transparency do we? Just look at the WB Rd/Bypass issue… look at everything that’s surrounded that. The “glorification” and “beautification” of our Public beach deal, we lost the road, the road was realigned, giving Dart Prime beach front land for his properties. The Bypass was built, giving him access to all of his properties along the WB corridor, driving his value up. The only person that benefits from anything that we’ve done, historically, is the outside man.
      There is always something bigger behind it all. How much real estate does Dart own in town? Isn’t the entire Flagship building his now? What else does he own?

      Caymanians need to KNOW exactly what they are signing up for. Don’t just take things for face value anymore with these people. They shaft us every opportunity they get. We’ve never WON with them. Ever.

      I’ll write this here. What I have noticed is that we have become ok with them dangling the carrot before our faces and not focusing on what is behind the carrot, 20 ft, 30 ft, 40 ft out…we can’t see crap past the tip of our noses.

      Cayman, I close with this, let’s be proactive and not retroactive.
      Let’s make a difference.
      Demand transparency before we proceed any further.

      Signed
      Poster0331

    • Anonymous says:

      @11:21 Exactly how will crime spike if the port isn’t built?

      • Anonymous says:

        Mass unemployment

        • Anonymous says:

          Mass unemployment? How? Cruise ships will still come here, the financial sector doesn’t rely on cruise passengers and the over nighters will still come, we will just be losing the equivalent of 1 regular cruise ship worth of additional passengers every two weeks and that’s IF the mega ships were slated to come here if the dock was built and there is no guarantee that would have happened. You need to stop scare mongering. Seriously.

    • Anonymous says:

      Tara who? And why is she an expert on crime and the cruise industry?

  13. Anonymous says:

    When the government builds the dock, completes the airport expansion and land fill solution. They will create history!

    Now you see why the opposition has to oppose oppose oppose.

    If all of this happens they along with Bernie is toast. Although the people of west bay has already decided that Bernie has to go.

  14. Anony says:

    How can Ezzard say ship only stay for 4.1 – 4.3 hrs, when most ship come in at 7 a.m. and leave at 2.45 a.m. And what nonsense he talking about clearing security? He do not know anything about tourism. He should just shut his ass for awhile and retire to North Side. He is a pure waste of space.

  15. SKEPTICAL says:

    Moses continues to roll out his “ Voodoo Economics “ claiming the longer cruise ship passengers are ashore, the more they will spend. Most of them have a pretty good idea of what they can afford to spend before they even board their ship in the US time ashore will be irrelevant.

    • Anonymous says:

      The projections he quoted come from the professional analysis done by the PWC accounting firm. They have analytical models based on research of tourist spending at ports worldwide.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Tara ha ha you really trust her anywhere near this project look what a complete mess she made of education

  17. Anonymous says:

    Do not blame you Austin. Get all you can get before the next. Because you are going to need it maybe this election will be your first and last eldction.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard need to spend to about 11am tomorrow when only one ship is in and see how long it takes. Seeing is believing

  19. Anonymous says:

    Encouraging all to know the facts and sign this petition. Don’t make these political lunatics drift us out to a sea of debt destruction! Lies, lies …. and shame on all on the government side that voted against allowing us the people to have a voice! Remember of voice is what got you all elected so you have to remember us during the election term and not just 6 months prior to the election! SIGN THE PETITION IF YOU ARE A REGISTERED VOTER! IF YOU WILL BE 18 by MAY OF 2021 REGISTER TO VOTE! OUR VOICES MATTER!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Ha-ha this petition is going no where as the deal is made with Decco & CHEC plus it will be built. Remember what happened to the last time that Honorable Speaker was given the West Bay Road petition?

  20. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard was so focused on getting more and better tenders it is obvious that he has found the tender operators as a new donor to pay for his campaigning efforts.

    I’m really tired of these guys playing politics with our future.

    Stop playing politics and build the dock.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Austin must go! Enjoy your first and last time ever being elected! You sold out the people of the Cayman Islands for a dollar and you stand for absolutely nothing! People of Prospect please pay attention as he does not care about what is in your best interest but instead power and the mighty dollar has won him over. He can not be trusted to do what is best for Cayman and he must go in 2021! All concerned Caymanians that want to ensure the government is making the best decision for our country please sign the petition! At minimum we deserved to hear the full details and be provided with facts to make the right decision and a referendum is needed. We deserve the right to be part of the decision making for such a large project. It is our democratic right and we wish to be heard PPM aka the “coalition” government!

  22. Just a matter of time says:

    How can Austin renage on an important campaign promised to his people who elected him in? This is political suicide.

  23. Anonymous says:

    The more I learn about this project the more skeptical I become. So many on the current Govt. bench were so vehemently against this not too long ago…now they’re in power and suddenly for it!? All we want is well laid out plans as to what, how much, who’s involved and how will it be financed? I’ll be signing the people initiated referendum also!

    • Anonymous says:

      Wish we could see the entire paper trail and up to the last cent. I bet it wouldn’t be surprising to say the least.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Austin likes the sound of his own voice.

  25. Anonymous says:

    We really need a berthing facility here. The majority of Islands in the Caribbean have them and there seems to be little impact on their environment. Many of those Islands for example, Jamaica welcomes millions of tourist every year by ship as well as aircraft. Just saying, I’m not an environmental authority but it’s just my view.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Austin you are a true turn coat. Regret voting for you. Gave in to politics. Well 1 term politician you just became.

  27. Say it like it is says:

    I see Mr Harris “has changed his mind”. Is there a single politician in this island who has the courage to maintain his convictions?.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Never mind the port
    They should be focusing on expanding the runway to accommodate direct flights from the west coast and Europe.

  29. Anonymous says:

    MYTH #234: BOATS WILL STAY LONGER OR ALLOW A SECOND FIELD EXCURSION

    Most modern liners cruise at 20-30 knots and their schedules allow ample flexibility to arrive many many hours earlier as well as depart well after dark – if there were demand to do so. I know Captains that tried this in the past, thinking it would be a positive step for their guests. Nobody got off the boat. The problems are:

    (a) HM Customs is not staffed to accommodate these business hours
    (b) The onboard all-inclusive guests won’t take their shore leave until after consuming their all-included breakfast, and going back to their rooms to apply sunscreen etc. Most pack their strollers and de-board 9:30-10am for that reason.
    (c) These same people want to get back on board to consume their included dinner,
    (d) amortize their included drink package, and
    (e) get back out into international waters so they can resume gambling.

    Two or Four pier slots don’t change those realities unless dockside cruise gambling is allowed (like Bermuda did…see Cruise Ship Casino Act 2013) and locals and stay over visitors are invited to board these boats to gamble and drink – the liners then pay a port gambling licensing fee to CIG for their season, and everyone is happy.

  30. Anonymous says:

    I am not a fan of Mr. Millers, but he got this one right. Spurious CIG claims are being shown the cold harsh light of day and found to be severely wanting. Which leads even more to the question “why?”

  31. Gt voter says:

    Moses proves he is more like Donald Trump every time he opens his mouth. All mla’s supporting this port must be voted out of office!

  32. Anonymous says:

    What a roller coaster. Miller had me rethinking my support throughout this article, then we reach the last paragraph. Either Austin woke up and parted ways with the 1900 conspiracy theorists in Cayman, or corruption is at a point where we’re a sunken ship.

  33. Anonymous says:

    There is so much misinformation, and smoke and mirrors by this Hell-bent Cabinet, who weren’t really elected to be in a Cabinet to begin with. Please make an effort to sign – the signature books need to be better dispersed ASAP, better yet, an online version. We need enactment of the Standards in Public Life and basic accountability and transparency from those that have assumed these stations, otherwise, they should be removed from office and disqualified from future eligibility.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Maybe the pier will be a positicpve, maybe a negative, maybe we will have to pay for it, maybe not, maybe it will cost two hundred million, maybe more, maybe, maybe maybe, what a way to go!

  35. Anonymous says:

    Austin is a fraud and a big wimp.

  36. Anonymous says:

    I was told by a friend of mine on the Brac this morning they mckeeva had his vehicle brought over to the Brac to accommodate his visit. If true did he pay the freight or was that funded by the unity government? Couldn’t he have rented a car up there? Just asking!

    CNS: We checked on this after it was suggested in a previous comment. It is not true. McKeeva Bush et al were apparently driving the Brac VIP car.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Is the Speaker of the LA conflicted in this debacle? He is the Speaker for the Cayman Islands. Why is he working for the Chinese? Does anyone even care?

    • Anonymous says:

      Everyone should care , including the FCO who stopped the last Chinese effort because they knew what was going on.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sinopharm and China Harbour are Chinese Govt owned and are doing projects together in Jamaica. XXXX

      CNS: Wendy is currently looking into the rest of your comment. I suspect you’re correct but we need to confirm first.

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