Questions following the cruise port meeting

| 05/10/2018 | 75 Comments

Cayman cruise, Cayman News ServiceCandy Whicker writes: I attended last week’s public meeting, headed by Minister for Tourism Moses Kirkconnell, on the proposed Cayman cruise berths. Although I had a number of questions, the opportunity to ask them didn’t arise, so I hope the following will prompt a response from government and give others further food for thought on this most important decision facing our country.

Mr Kirkconnell gave a comprehensive overview of the lead-up to and process of managing the port expansion, followed by information on the project’s engineering, infrastructure and management. The only redundant speakers were two cruise ship reps, who just fed us platitudes and cruise-marketing speak with very little meat — and, as we subsequently discovered, are deeply compromised given they are both connected to a bidder for the build.

Mr Kirkconnell’s responses to questions were respectful and measured. He said he would never support a project that would damage the country, and appeared sincere. He also expressed the balanced view that sometimes sacrifices must be made for the wider good, and that he was truly sympathetic to the upset this caused.

So, what did I learn? That the government seem to have been diligent in their approach to this project; I think I learnt this project is not intended to increase the numbers of cruise visitors, but simply to bring in the same number on bigger ships (so, we incur all this cost just to maintain our numbers?). I learnt that Carnival has 22 new ships being built, only nine of which are the large ones — so then the majority being built are smaller, which can be tendered? But no chance to clarify this matter.

Some numbers

We were given some numbers, but no details of the financial and other data behind the decision to build in the first place. A graph showed a dipping revenue from cruise over the past year, which leapt up on the back of inclement weather in the rest of the Caribbean; the graph apparently demonstrated our falling cruise market. I found this confusing: figures from the government website show that cruise numbers have gone from 1,517,585 in 2009 to 1,728,444 in 2017, a rise of 14% over 8 years. They were at their highest-ever level in 2017.

The marketing ‘numbers’

In the numbers used to support the project, government tells us that ‘80% of tourism comes from cruise’ – but what is ‘tourism’ in this context? Upon investigation, ‘tourism’ in this instance actually means TourISTS; it is true that 80% of our tourists are cruisers (and the remaining 20% stay-overs).

But much more interesting is what we earn from each sector. Using figures from the government website for January to June (i.e. 6 months) 2017: We earned $78 million from the 80% of cruisers (882,000) compared to $259 Million from the 20% stay-overs (218,000)

So actually (in revenue terms), we should be saying that 77% of tourISM comes from stay-over visitors rather than cruise. And this is an important number, because if 218,000 stay-over visitors earned us $259 million in the first 6 months of 2017, this is surely, by far and away, the more valuable sector of our tourism and as such deserves our protection most.

In addition, this higher income from far fewer visitors puts much less stress on our infrastructure and environment.

Now, this did come up during the meeting and Mr Kirkconnell noted that huge strides have been made to encourage stay-over visitors as well, e.g. the expansion of the airport and numerous hotel projects in the pipeline. He said that of course they understood the value of our stay-over sector.

The unheeded conflict

But what was not mentioned was the conflict between these two types of visitor: how the footprint of up to two million cruisers per year and all the crowding, pollution, congestion and degradation that this brings to our island, actively damages that stay-over golden egg. Not surprisingly, wealthy stay-over visitors, looking for an exclusive upmarket experience, do not enjoy sharing limited space and facilities with milling cruisers.

Our most popular attractions are seriously overstretched. Public Beach is a zoo, with rows scruffy chairs, mismatched parasols, and most cabanas requisitioned by trinket sellers. Stingray City is seriously overcrowded, almost dangerously so.

I invite all to visit Fort Street in St. Maarten or Bay Street in Nassau on a cruise ship day to see what the future could hold for us (visit, don’t google; they only put up the pretty pictures) and then understand that our stay-over tourists will go elsewhere.

So, I think the greatest point not made the other night was that we are attempting to shore up our cruise sector, knowing that it will cause some damage to the popular reefs around the harbour and add two huge, ugly concrete piers to our pretty little harbour, but most importantly, with no guarantees that it won’t damage or even kill our two golden eggs: stayover tourism and Seven Mile Beach.

The numbers again

Back to the numbers — and purely for the purpose of illustration — 882,000 cruise visitors brought in US$78 million in the first six months of last year. By comparison, it would take about only 65,000 stay-over visitors to bring in the same amount.

Of course, I don’t suggest that we cancel cruise visits altogether and replace them with stay-over visitors, just find a happier middle ground.

Why does government seem not to see a middle way?

Many describe the GT port expansion as a vanity project, but I don’t think this right. When you understand how much professional time, effort and money have, over many years, gone into this concept (as explained at the meeting), it’s inevitable the government defends it. A project that seems to have been genuinely conceived to protect the future of Cayman and her people.

But the picture has changed since we first conceived of this idea. Our numbers are up, the economy is more robust and we now have better options. Rather than persevere with the port expansion, rather than all the agonising, increased cost and unclear outcomes, here is our perfect opportunity to start developing Cayman into a predominantly high-end destination, where stay-over visitors outnumbers cruisers.

We could choose simply to let the cruise sector reduce organically over the next ten years and allow those who work in the sector to transition to servicing more stay-over visitors at a gentle rate. I appreciate that this is an easy thing to say and harder to implement. But with all the resources set up to manage such a huge project, I am sure those heads can come up with plans to retrain and re-employ as necessary.

High-end destination

I know this has been a vision for many years and we struggle to feel we are achieving it, but we are closer than ever to being a high-class destination. We have four luxury hotels on the way, and Camana Bay is a world-class facility that affluent tourists love. Our districts have huge cultural appeal for more discerning visitors who look for a genuine, uncontrived cultural environment.

These have not truly been tapped to date and offer huge potential for “boutique” visitors who wish to stay off the beaten track, enjoy less developed areas, seek out empty beaches with their snorkels and enjoy exploring the interior.  We can encourage those villa rentals, boutique hotels and Airbnbs in the districts, those little eateries such as Vivine’s and Big Tree BBQ, without turning them into Disney World offerings.

We could even put our energies into becoming a leading eco resort to beat them all, with clean energy, reduced plastic waste and state-of-the-art recycling; what better headlines to attract the high-end visitor? And of course, most importantly, train our youngsters to become highly qualified hospitality providers along the way.

We are already a safe destination with a robust infrastructure, we just need to make that final commitment to reduce our day visitors to improve our attractiveness.

The global trend of high-end destinations

We are not alone. Many high-end destinations are now beginning to make this change, from just passively accepting more and more visitors to actively controlling numbers. Venice has finally decided that cruise ship volumes are detrimental, not just environmentally but to the well-being of the city’s residents. The island of Santorini in Greece — very similar to us, a small island with two million cruise visitors per annum — is starting to limit numbers. Italy’s coastal Cinque Terre National Park; Dubrovnik; Iceland; Barcelona …there are so many examples.

And now a few words about THE COST

The figures have not been disclosed as yet and clearly, once the final numbers are in they will be scrutinised by government and the project will only proceed if the numbers work. In addition, the hope is that in the interests of clarity, these figures will be disclosed before the deal is signed.

But let’s have a go with some guesswork:

We know that we currently collect around a $5 tender fee and $15 landing fee from each cruise visitor and we receive 1.8 million cruise visitors a year, so we earn US$36 million per annum, of which government earns revenue of US$27 million.

If the project costs US$200 million (a conservative estimate) and we pay for it over 25 years, at an interest rate of 5% we will be paying US$8 million per annum in capital repayments and US$5 million per annum in interest. This amounts to US$13 million per annum just to cover the building of the structure.

Add to this the ongoing annual costs — insurance, maintenance and salaries for the extra manpower, which will have an actual cost, however wrapped up in the deal. Let’s say US$6 million per annum.

So 13 + 6 = US$19 million per annum repayments.

If we have US$36 million income, then 36 – 19 = US$ 17 million left for government, US$10 million less a year than it currently receives.

For fun, how many extra passengers will we need to cover that US$10,000,000 shortfall. US$10 million divided by US$20 = 500,000 that would be a 28% increase from our highest number of arrivals to date for the year 2017.

So, in addition to incurring a huge additional liability for less money in, we will most likely need to increase our cruise visitors quite considerably in order for government to simply maintain current income.

I hope I am wrong.

And so

Whatever cruise operators imply, Cayman will always attract cruise visitors as we are unique, safe, clean, small, charming and, above all, we have Seven Mile Beach’s crystal-clear water and super-soft sand, and our underwater coral world — currently shore accessible for our cruise visitors — and George Town Harbour is still pretty and pristine, despite the boat traffic.

Let us remain unique and not bow to the pressure to become just another destination with huge piers and duty-free shops. Let us provide a higher-quality experience to a lower number of cruise visitors, that in itself will give them the time and space to enjoy Cayman for longer and bring all the benefits outlined at the meeting to the attractions around the island without the cost of a pier.

If we reduce our day trippers we lose very little revenue, if any, if we gradually aim to replace them with more stay-over guests, and we will gain immeasurably from the improvement to our space and attractions.

If we slowly allow the number of cruise visitors to decline and put our energies into redirecting the thousands of workers who rely on the cruisers to transition to stay-over visitors (they are more than likely straddling the sectors anyway) then we will prosper, and in a more sustainable way.

So, abandoning the project may well be our saving grace. Yes, we would have to forgo the costs incurred to date, but think what we save — and I don’t just mean money.

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Category: development, Local News, Tourism, Viewpoint

Comments (75)

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  1. Fran says:

    My husband and I have been “stay-overs” to Grand Cayman for more than 15 years. We are divers and love GC. My heart sinks every time I see another cruise ship pull in. We are not wealthy people, but we managed to set aside a travel budget and gather up some friends in order to rent a private condo to really have an experience where we feel like we are part of the island. We correspond privately with the condo owners we frequent; we are on first name basis with some of the restaurant staff at our favorite places. We stay on the East side and the West Side – we enjoying the diving on both. I see from recent reports that the past storm season has left 7 Mile Beach very eroded. PLEASE! Do everything you can to protect GC and the gem that it is. Stand up and stand out! Thank you!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Here is another perspective following on Candy Wicker’s excellent article: a 200 million dollar dock in GT Harbour will be totally useless in rough weather. We will always need an alternative. Why not then put the dock at Spotts landing instead? That would avoid the environmental damage to GT Harbour and the dreaded congestion that would drive away the visitors we seek to attract. It would also allow Cayman to regulate numbers of cruisers, both those arriving in GT Harbour and at Spotts.
    Gov’t could regulate the cost of land transportation while ensuring that the many now employed in that sector would continue to benefit long term.
    Traffic jams in the mornings into George Town need not be the result either- many can be taken to Newlands for the North Sound
    While there might be risk of environmental damage at Spotts, it would likely not be as damaging and widespread as George Town Harbour and a serious study should be undertaken , at least before any final decision is taken.
    At all events, the arguments against the George Town dock are overwhelming.
    The idea should be abandoned for all the many good reasons explained by Candy Wicker, Jacques Cousteau and many others .
    Govt should assess how $200 million could be better invested to ensure the long term viability of stay over tourism and hand in hand with ensuring the sustainability of our environment.
    As has been pointed out, we need modern garbage disposal and recycling. That would be a sound and long overdue investment.
    We should consider Island-wide beautification – there is a lot we can do to make amends for the detrimental impact we have already had upon the natural environment.
    Just think how much of an impact flowering plants along all the main roads would have.
    We need not look far- just look along the new roads going to West Bay.
    Horticulture and beautification could provide many long term jobs. And that would help to make Cayman a destination worth visiting to just for the sake of its natural environment!
    This would be so for cruisers as well as stay over visitors – although I would be most concerned to enhance the experience of the stay overs.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Great post, and done with respect for the other side of the argument.

  4. Jo Boxall says:

    Has anyone spoke to Jan Koeman? His mother, Dr. Koeman, built their family home on the water right there by Margaritaville Resort and Jan remembers playing on the sandy beach in front of their house when he was young. He will tell you that after they extended the dock in George Town his beach disappeared and never came back. I wonder if you extend the dock even further out whether the erosion will just head further up Seven Mile Beach?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Candy Wicker has very eloquently stated everything I have been saying out loud but haven’t been able to find the wherewithal to put pen to paper. (She said it a lot better than I could have as well)

    I went on a Southern Caribbean cruise several years ago. (My first cruise of 2) Out of the 5 islands visited, 2 were tendered/3 docked. The docks were out of town so you had to get a taxi to go anywhere. The road to the ‘city centre’ was costly and inconvenient but at least it allowed you to see a bit of the island even if it was the industrial area… The tendered stops weren’t an issue. If you had a trip booked, you are allowed on the first tenders but that left you a quieter breakfast period if you had to wait. And the wait was not too long.
    Out of the 5 islands visited, let me tell you how many I want to return to… Can you guess?? None. The congestion of the cruise shippers made each town a misery. And those towns and islands are all much larger than this 28×3 mile spit. We didn’t see anything anywhere that we wanted to go back for. After the first stop we rented a vehicle on each island to get out of the crush. And that was the saving grace for the entire cruise. (Actually, that’s a lie, I would love to go back to Sint Maarten and at 34 sq. miles, it can handle a larger number of visitors. We hit the road outta town as soon as we arrived)
    Now in saying that, I do see the difference between tendered stops and stops that are docked. But at the end of the day, besides the incredible cost to our environment, the reason I am against building the berths for more/larger cruise ships is because of the off-putting crowds and congestion. I may not be a ‘wealthy’ traveler but I do prefer going to places that feel exclusive. Places that are not inundated with crowds of people with the cacophony of taxi’s arguing and vendors yelling to get your attention. The vendors in St. Thomas were ghastly. Vendors arguing amongst themselves, the lovely quaint cobblestone streets filled with trinket and t-shirt shops, staff standing in the doorway trying to beckon you inside for the BEST deal. We ran to the first taxi and asked to be driven to the furthest point away from the insufferable noisy crowds.

    The poster that said “Cruises are like a buffet platter for vacationers”. That’s super cute. But it is not true. Therefore, I challenge each of you that want more cruise visitors to spend a couple of hours in town during a heavy day of ships in port.
    No, I DARE you!!
    Then at least you can speak from the heart of what our island represents to people that come to visit for a few hours. I can assure you that not all that many visitors are clamoring to come back.
    And lastly, that 200M joke of a price tag is a big fat lie.

    • Anonymous says:

      And what very few people on this island will also experience, aside from George Town on a busy day, is what hell coming out of the terminals is with the various people pushing tours, taxis, etc. This is an intimidating experience in a foreign country that you are not familiar with and needs better control if we are not going to put people off from spending time and money on our island.

  6. Anonymous says:

    wow…, 9:16am comment shows 216 likes and no dislikes! just tells you that the people fed up with the government? i not voting for this government come next election….

    • Anonymous says:

      Or tenderbots in full swing to save their monopoly. Money talks. They’re paying half the people out on the street pushing for the referendum.

  7. Anonymous says:

    If 882,000 cruise ship tourists brought in $78 million in business then 1.8 million would bring in $159,183,673. Its $176,870748 at 2million cruise ship tourist. That figure would help a lot of Caymanian owned businesses.

    • Anonymous says:

      At what cost though? If we bring that many people in it ruins the experience for the high spending stay over tourists.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The $259 million dollars that was earned from stay over tourists who made that?? Was it the airport? CAL ( 20 million from Gov’t coffers)? Hotels? Bars and Rest.? Where did that money go? I don’t make any money from stayover tourists. So should Caymanians join NAU? Did you consider the thousands of people in the Cruise industry ? How much will Gov’t pay to the sector in benefits? 1000-4500 people? Build the port.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m a stayover tourist who built a beach house. My money goes every month to water, electricity, gardener, pool maintenance, boat storage, phone and internet, Bogle for insurance, and our wonderful property manager. Every other month it goes also to two weeks’ groceries, liquor, car rental, restaurants, boat launching (always with repairs), gas for car and boat, a few hundred at ALT or Cox, repairs to whatever is broken, maid service, Caymana Bay shops, CostULess for household supplies, etc. It’s about the same when friends or family use the house. If someone you know isn’t working for me or selling me something, it would be a miracle.

      • Anonymous says:

        11:04 you’re not a stay over tourist. You are a resident you own a house. But do you understand that thousands of people in the cruise ship industry pay all those same bills? So if we decline in Cruise business we will cause more decline to those people and businesses and may cause them to close?

        • Very Concerned says:

          I would stick my neck out to say that the poster (11.04 am) is NOT a resident in the Caymanian Immigration definition of resident. I would be pretty certain that this ‘resident’ gets a visitors’ stamp in the passport every time they enter these Islands. But, for the sake of your argument, even if this person has been granted resident status, how do you think they got to that point?? Stayover tourist, in the first instance – I’d bet my entire savings of $165 on it!!

        • Anonymous says:

          Many stayover tourists own property here. That doesn’t make them residents it just makes them people who pump a heck of a lot of money into the Cayman economy, even though they don’t live here.

        • Anonymous says:

          Actually they don’t.
          Ask any boat operator that takes cruise tourists to sandbar. The reason their boats have to be so full is because they get very little per passenger. It is the cruise line that books the excursion that takes the largest share of what the cruise tourist spends. What does that cruise ship visitor spend here? Almost nothing. They burn gas in a bus, they burn deisel in a boat, they abuse a few stingrays making a stayover tourist have a lesser experience than they could have. What do they leave? they leave garbage to pile up mount trashmore and then we have to build more infrastructure such as roads, docks, and other things that taxes have to pay for.

          Cruise tourism will be the death of what is left of Cayman.

  9. Anonymous says:

    caymanians, you voted them in to be our voices? who’xs voices are the echoing now?

    • Anonymous says:

      They are echoing the cruise line
      executives voices now, that’s who.

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      Anonymous 9 15am , stop believing that when you vote for a politician to elect him or her , that you are giving them your voice too . No you haven’t gave him anything else but your vote and a job to take care of government business , and if he/she don’t his job , don’t give him another vote . I hope that I gave you back your voice .

  10. Anonymous says:

    The environmental group might be the loudest but make no mistake the majority of voters are for the port. All the ministers and councilors know it too. The opposition doesnt seem to get it but good thing is they will find out next election.

  11. Da-wa-u-get says:

    An excellent Viewpoint! I cannot for the life of me understand why we would want to “cheapen” the Cayman islands as a destination for tourist to the point where, in about 5 years time nobody wants to come here anymore by ship or by air, because they were here on a $500 a week cruise, sharing a cabin with 3 other people (big spenders indeed)

    Of course by then we will have to introduce Casino gambling to maintain any kind of occupancy in the new hotels that are in the process of being built now.
    Nobody is even talking about the mess we’ll have along Harbour drive for about 2 years while construction is going on. The cruisers that may visit here over that period of construction will be severely inconvenienced and disappointed, not to mention what it will do to our resident population.

    If this port gets built and we ramp up our cruise arrivals as predicted, I advise anyone that is currently, or planning to make their living from tourism (by Air or Sea) better make enough for the rest of their life in the next 5 – 7 years (forget about the next generation) because thereafter tourism in Cayman will be a thing of the past. Everyone that wanted to come here will have had their visit, they will have found a place that is congested with attractions that are exhausted and worn out and an on Island population that is totally indifferent to visitors (because they see so many every day)
    The only place a tourist will see a Caymanian will be in a Museum, because, they will have been driven out of the tourism industry by the greed of the Cruise companies who want to maximize their profit and only leave scraps for on-Island contractors, who will have to rely on importing cheap labour from the far corners of the world.

    As for the elected government members that supports the building of this port,I am disappointed in them. with a few exceptions, I had the hope that they would have vision beyond the next election and while it is rumored that the proponents stand to gain personally if the project goes through, I hope that this is untrue because they should remember the Gospel of Matthew 26:15 of the new Testament.

  12. Anonymous says:

    why did they not have it in the freemason’s hall???

  13. Anonymous says:

    If you speak to DOT up to 30% of our stayover tourist come after taking a cruise first.

    Don’t kill the cruise goose that produces the golden egg!

    • South Sounder says:

      I was at the meeting and the rep from Carnival clearly stated that ‘Cayman is not at risk’ ie even without accommodating the larger ships they will still bring their smaller ships (the ones we are already tendering) as Cayman is a popular destination for their customers and sells their Western Caribbean tours.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Cruises are like a buffet platter for vacationers. Once they stop here for a day to sample the island, the quality of our destination instills a want to return. However, next time would be more commitment to time spent here – probably a week versus a few hours.

    • Anonymous says:

      I just spoke with someone who visited Cayman few years agо. It left no impression on him. He said all islands they visited while on a cruise looked the same to him.

    • Anonymous says:

      LOL Awww that’s so sweet. Who told you this?
      Fake news. That is what the cruise lines want you to believe as they push the next cruise on their captive audiences.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Here is one of my concern (amongst many others):
    We all know that as an offshore jurisdiction we are constantly battling the various accusations of being a “tax haven” facilitating tax evasion, money laundering etc.
    If the “rumors” are true that China Harbor Engineering Company is involved in the bidding process, I wonder how on and who conducted any compliance, KYC and background checks on this company. Anybody working in the financial industry knows that there are red flags all over the place when you just start doing an enhanced google search. I wonder what one would find if they were to run a more complex compliance check utilizing various search engines and programs most compliance officers on this Island have access to. So essentially we are not just destroying the environment but also the Island’s reputation in the financial industry if China Harbor was actually allowed to be one of the bidders, and worse would end up being the chosen developer.

    Starting doing some research. For those who don’t know, China Communication Construction Company is the parent company of China Harbour…

  16. Anonymous says:

    Now begs the question; WHY?!

    Cayman’s government, led by Minister of Tourism Moses Kirkconnell and Premier Alden McLaughlin, shall still, despite the stellar presentation of this viewpoint (and others), proceed onward and unfazed with their myopic intentions for this cruise port.


    – Whodatis


  17. Anonymous says:

    3:11 pm
    Ditto your first sentence, I am on the south shore.
    Why were the Towns held responsible if the Army Corps of Engineers approved?
    p.s. Some folks around here are still rebuilding or have not as yet, from Sandy’s damage in ’12.
    Seems there are insurance issues and hold ups by FEMA, who did not do much to help with the major devastation.

  18. Arthur Rank says:

    That is a well written, well researched and reasonably argued piece. It is powerful because it doesn’t just shout from one side of the pitch, it looks at both sides. Any reasonable person reading it will be in no doubts about the best course of action, but deep down, we all know it will make no difference, and we need to think about why!
    If you go back to the beginning of this issue, you find that it has one major supporter, the current speaker, you may also remember that he ignored all the proper channels, kicked out the properly appointed contract and preferred CHEC, and this despite their dreadful reputation for their business methods.
    So, when you ask yourself why reason, logic, and the best option for the Island is ignored, ask yourself why nothing has changed, same project, same contractors, same supporters!

  19. nauticalone says:

    Well written and presented piece. Thanks very much Ms. Wicker.

  20. Anonymous says:

    This is a solid balanced objective piece. Time for hysterics on both side last to calm down and think about this rationally. We cannot afford to get this wrong.

    • Anonymous says:

      Balanced? Haha you must’ve read a different article than I. This is as one sided as any.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Everything I’ve been trying to say but cannot for the life of me put it into words.
    Please please let’s invest in our stayover tourism. I have been saying forever that the money they spend is spread over the entire island, not just where the cruise shippers go.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Ms. Whicker, I have just finished reading this for the second time and I must applaud you for a fantastically well written piece of work. As someone else mentioned, you need to send this to every media outlet.

    I pray that the CIG reads this and have that moment of clarity we hope they get that they so desperately need and realize that this project is beyond ludicrous. For the record I am for a port as long as it doesn’t destroy the environment as this will and yes I do understand something has to be sacrificed for progress but as said, not on this scale.

    This port fiasco has boiled down to simply one thing. Greed!

    Anyone with half a brain will see the numbers don’t add up and for someone to take the time like you did and actually show more than compelling proof in the numbers and in the argument is a welcomed relief to the BS that the CIG has been throwing at us.

    We could still get to where the CIG wishes us to be but in ways that are more people/environment friendly that the $200 million this disaster will cost could easily be put to better use.

  23. I Like Candy says:

    Well written and factual information that all the people of the Cayman Islands should read! Someone should make sure that our MLA all get their own personalized copy!

  24. Brian Tomlinson says:

    Ms. Whicker, I don’t know if you are eligible to become a MLA. If you are, you need to run in the next election. You did a great job of presenting the issue.

    • Anonymous says:

      As if Cayman has any interest in electing people based on policies or positions

      Its all about who you know and what you promise

      • Anonymous says:

        Truly…sad though because others promise so much and deliver so little…mainly UK and US pricks

  25. Alan Roffey says:

    Thoughtful, respectful, objective, impartial, analytical of publicly available information of reality, not perception, and ultimately damning of this wrong headed project. Well done Candy!

  26. Anonymous says:

    I live in Long Island, NY and am a long time property owner in Cayman. Piers and man made structures have been built at the east end of Long Island which have resulted in a disaster. Let me explain.

    Studies were done by reputable firms and the US Army Corps of Engineers which showed that there would be no danger to the beaches on either side of the small piers/structures. These studies were relied upon and the piers and other structures that were built resulted in a change in the water flow. In many cases, this resulted in water flow changes and erosion and in a in a complete destruction of the beaches on one side of the piers/structures in spite of all the studies. Piers/structures had to be removed so that the beaches which had disappeared eventually thankfully returned. Towns were found liable for damage caused and had to pay for remediation and reconciliation.

    Don’t play Russian roulette with the crown jewel of the Cayman Islands, Seven Mile Beach. You will be running the risk of potentially washing away a good part or all of the sand on Seven Mile Beach…a man made disaster for Cayman! Don’t do it!

  27. Anonymous says:

    Brilliantly written and well thought out! If only our government had half of the mental capacity as Candy Whicker!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for a very well reasoned set of issues. The only bit where I think you have made a mistake, is in your financial calculation. If we build, the position is much worse than you highlight.

    Regardless of extra running costs, the project cost is $13m per annum for 25 years. At $20pp, that’s 650,000 persons per annum. Without considering any extra costs, the Government loses $15 x 650,000 = $9.75m in its own right.

    To that we should add a significant interest premium because costs will be incurred from the start but extra revenue not earned until both the piers are built AND the bigger ships are in service (so the total interest needs to start from the beginning, not completion), plus the extra costs you highlight. There may also be a significant erosion of cruisers through the construction period because we have not yet even asked whether cruiselines will avoid Cayman through the construction period.

    Given that the Government has existing obligations and thus needs to maintain revenue, we should be asking very pointed questions about just how they are going to make up that shortfall, before we even consider whether we can afford it. If the cruise business is predicted to be flat even with the piers, it is looking increasingly likely that we may never recover the shortfall.

    At a straight economic level, before you even consider impacts on stayover guests, the project is cost neutral if we increase cruise visitors by 36% per annum, assuming no additional costs. Equally, we’d have to lose a whopping 36% of visitors by not building the piers to be worse off. As one of the most popular destinations, that’s a stretch of anybody’s imagination.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Brilliant …………………………this sums it all up. There are no positives to be gained by anyone in this project other than pockets being lined and passengers being able walk right off the ship instead of tender. There will be no pretty reef to snorkel on and so much congestion nobody will want to travel here by boat anyway. Tourism will drop all round! There will be so much respect for those in Government if they would see the light and do the right thing………….stop this insane project.

  30. Anonymous says:

    This is the best, most concise summation of the issue I have read. Candy has put so many of my concerns into the words I could not find.

    I wish the government would read it. The path we are on is not one that bodes well for the future of our country. We have always seemed to lack behind global trends. Other places have already clued into the fact that cruise ship tourism is not necessarily the best for the country.

    Millennials are shying away from cookie cutter travel experiences. Cayman’s continuing trend to cater to the lowest denominator ruins the aspects that make us unique.

    • Anonymous says:

      I work in the hotel and hospitality consultation field. The major tourism players are very focused on millennials as the growth area in tourism. Cruises to a generic duty free port is not on their radar. The world has moved on from a couple of decades ago. Sad to say, but as the boomers (I am a boomer) die off or stop traveling due to health issues, things will, and are, changing. Millennials don’t want a Rolex, but an experience.

    • Anonymous says:

      That is very true. People don’t want to be cattle, they want a genuine experience. AirBnB might be the best thing ever done for the go east initiaive. Imagine that, a trip to Cayman might be more like it was in the 60’s and people might actually meet a Caymanian whey they are here.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Well written Johan

    CNS: …..because it is inconceivable that a woman could have a thought in her head, let alone have strong opinions. Yes?

    • Anonymous says:

      A thousand thumbs up from a Caymanian man on your comment CNS!

    • Anonymous says:

      And ten thousand thumbs up to Ms Wicker’s comments!

    • Anonymous says:

      *like* for the CNS comment not the orgial post

    • Anonymous says:

      Being a contemporary of Renard, I wouldn’t claim to know Johan well, but I do remember his birth. However, I have known Candy for more than 20 years and she doesn’t need assistance from anyone when expressing her opinions.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds like Austin when he said Kent McTaggart’s Michelle wife couldnt hold an opinion different from Kent’s … ; )

      • Anonymous says:

        Now we all know how Austin feels about women being able to express their opinions. He has tried and tested method for dealing with that.

    • Anonymous says:

      My thumbs up up was for the CNS reply, not the inane comment by the poster!

    • Johann Moxam says:

      Thank you Ms. Wicker for a great summary and thoughtful VP. Your concerns are echoed by thousands of Caymanians and residents who hold similar views and want the best for our country.

      If only our government officials had the courage and humility to understand your concerns and address them accordingly.


      Best regards


  32. Anonymous says:

    Thorough, clearly written and understood, factual. If the powers that be would read this and agree we/ they would not need to spend another dollar of our money on research and plans. Just in case they don’t read CNS would you kindly print and send a copy to Minister kirkconnell and each member of the government.p?

  33. Ron Ebanks says:

    Ms. Whicker , I applaud you for wanting your questions answered by this disrespectful government that don’t want to answer questions .
    I think that you should take your efforts much further than CNS , Like the Television Media , and take CNS Reporter along with you to make sure that you get your story and questions out to the public correctly .

  34. Anonymous says:

    Agree on all points. But You missed the elephant in the room. The Dump. Your Majesty the mount Trashmore. No well off visitors would endanger their health, let alone pay a premium for a vacation in a toxic environment. You DO HAVE toxic, though invisible, environment, just read the Compass 10/4 and 10/5. Waste to energy plant would make things much worse- garbage in, garbage out. Ash is extremely toxic.
    So in my opinion, you are doomed. There is really no solution. The monster you created will destroy not only your tourism, but health consious residents start moving off island.
    STOP pretending that the Dump in the heart of SMB is harmless.
    So in essence, you brought up valid and good points. But you forgot that nobody drinks champagne and eats caviar near the rotting, decomposing, toxic fumes spewing, rodents infested mountain of waste.
    There’s nothing you can do about it, even if you spend the entire annual budget on beautifying it, aka capping. You can’t tame a volcano.

    • Erin Brokovich says:

      Each and every visitor should take home one pound of the Dump’s contents as a souvenir.
      Disposal of construction debris locally should be prohibited.
      Plastic ware and over packaged goods must be banned.
      Plastic bottles must be banned as well. Establish collection of glass bottles for a fee. Reuse it.

      Desperate times call for Desperate measures.

      But how you are going to clean toxic elements already accumulated in your environment and your bodies, that is a tough question. Some serious power wash is in order. Even then it might take few centuries, taking into account no new contamination sources exist.

      Dioxin is a highly persistent chemical that only slowly degrades in the environment. Dioxin present in surface soil may take from 9 to 15 years to degrade to half its concentration. In subsurface soil, dioxin will remain largely unchanged with time.

    • Anonymous says:

      The dump problem can at least be mitigated, by channelling the financing from the [hopefully] soon cancelled cruise berth project , towards fixing the dump. Larger landfills have been totally sterilised in other countries , some even far worse than our land-fill . It will cost a lot , but the money not spent on cruise berthing facilities will be a start. You have to start somewhere , if not now , when ?

    • Anonymous says:

      If Aruba could do it…

      Before July 2009, an enduring image for many visitors to Aruba — as they arrived and departed from the international airport — was the stuffed-to-capacity landfill nearby. An additional landfill built in 2004 had a lifespan of only five years. With a land area of just sixty-nine square miles and nowhere left to dump the tonnes of rubbish generated by its 105,000 residents and thousands of tourists, the island decided it was time to go green. And Aruba has never looked back.

      In addition to a national campaign to “refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, and restore,” which sought to change attitudes among the general population, authorities worked with the US-based company WastAway to divert and process up to half of the island’s municipal solid waste. Constructed on the edge of what was once the landfill, the WastAway facility converts mixed garbage into a homogenous and pathogen- and odour-free material which can be used as a carbon-rich, renewable feedstock.

      A growing number of private companies in Aruba also recycle and ship paper, newspapers, cartons, and aluminium, as well as printer and toner cartridges, to buyers abroad. And, most inspiring of all, the island can boast of having made both a fashion and an environmental statement with its gorgeous (and educational) Aruba Reusable Bag. Made from recycled plastic bottles, the Aruba Reusable Bag is decorated with images of local landmarks, such as Indian cave paintings and the California Lighthouse, as well as the Aruba One Happy Island licence plate, the Divi Divi tree, and immigration stamps. The water-resistant and washable bag can be folded into a compact pouch, and though very light, it can hold up to forty-four pounds. Ethically made under fair labour conditions, the bag is itself one hundred per cent recyclable.

    • Anonymous says:

      Since National Energy Policy aims to derive 70 percent of all electricity from renewable sources,
      be aware that Green aren’t so Green after all. Might add a bigger headache to the existing solid waste disposal nightmare.

      “Are we headed for the solar waste crisis? ”

  35. Anonymous says:

    Finally an accurate representation of the project… with more information than the government provided!

  36. Anonymous says:

    I totally agree with this view point and we need to protect our Tourism Product and the Environment. Our infrastructure and attractions can not support this huge burdening of
    over crowding that the huge debt that this will bring.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Excellent view point!

    • Anonymous says:

      This is the most sensible information written about the port project to date. Every member of the MLA needs a copy and read the facts. This is the information all that turned up for the meeting with Mr Kirkconnell ( and watched on TV) wanted to know. Quality over Quantity Cayman. We don’t want to sell ourselves short and and lose our natural beauty for a few to get rich quick . How to we explain that to future generations. Our beautiful environment is priceless. Not for Sale.


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