PPM claims cruise numbers are falling

| 30/04/2019 | 66 Comments
Cayman News Service

Cruise ships in the George Town Harbour

(CNS): Just days after the Cayman Islands Ministry of Tourism was bragging about the continued record-breaking arrival figures, a tweet circulated Monday by the Progressives party began sounding the alarm that cruise numbers are falling and the country needs the cruise berthing project to save the sector. The premier also tweeted that when it is built, the port will secure the cruise industry. The tweets coincided with new promotional material from the tourism ministry pushing the controversial development as a way of providing jobs for Cayman’s school-leavers. But the notion that cruise numbers are falling is difficult to reconcile with the actual numbers.

January 2019 saw the highest number of cruise passengers ever visit Grand Cayman in any one month period since records began. And while the weather and other factors saw numbers fall in February and March compared to 2018, February’s arrival numbers for this year were still the third best recorded since 2000.

The numbers for this April are not yet available but there is no indication from the schedule that this month will be much less than April 2018. Now that Easter is over, the sector can expect so see the usual seasonal drop-off but there is no indication from the cruise ship schedule that the numbers are going to fall significantly over the rest of this year.

Nevertheless, the Progressives tweeted: “Great news for our economy, but we can’t be complacent, cruise numbers are dropping, we need the new cruise berthing to retain this business.”

But not only are cruise numbers not declining significantly, the tourism sector has a growing and much more sustainable buffer as overnight tourism continues to set new records, and stay-over visitors spend considerably more than their cruise counterparts.

The estimated spend for the first quarter of the year by all guests was CI$235 million, 80% of which (around $188 million) being spent by stay-over visitors and just $47 million being spent by over 641,000 cruise visitors.

The means that although there were around 30,000 fewer passengers in the first quarter of this year compared to last, this had no significant impact on overall spend.

Many tourism stakeholders also note that while cruise is a factor in sustaining some tourist related jobs, it is overnight tourism that fuels the wider business opportunities and creates the most jobs. But in its latest online and social media promotional campaign, the tourism ministry is justifying the cruise project by suggesting it will provide jobs for graduates.

“Every year hundreds of young Caymanians leave school and cruise tourism offers employment and a route into business ownership,” one of the promotional posts states. “We must support the cruise industry and build the cruise berthing facility to protect jobs and opportunities for the next generation.”

But one prominent business person in the sector who spoke to CNS about tourism job creation, but who did not want to be named because of fear of reprisals, said that in the decades they have been in the industry the business opportunities or jobs begin with overnight night guests and are sustained by that part of the sector.

“Cruise tourism does fuel our industry in part but it is only a small part of earnings for many. It forms the bulk of business for only a very small number of tour operators and merchants and it is a long-standing myth that without cruise piers Cayman’s tourism business is somehow going to implode.

“It won’t. But there is a risk that overcrowding and more pressure on our most popular attractions like the sandbar is what will drive away overnight guests away and then we will all feel the hurt,” the source stated.

Government’s focus on tourism as a driver of jobs for school-leavers also seems misplaced. Many young people do not support the project and some students have been among the loudest and most vocal opponents to the controversial development, as the next generation is extremely concerned about environmental issues.

The cruise project poses a significant threat to swathes of coral and the marine life sustained by it in and around George Town Harbour. But there is also a growing awareness in the local community that overnight tourism not only creates more sustainable revenue streams, it offers a more diverse range of jobs.

As the referendum campaign is on the home straight towards the final few signatures needed to trigger a people’s vote, the premier still seems confident that, despite the increasing likelihood that they will have the numbers in a matter of weeks, the cruise project is still going ahead.

“The new cruise and enhanced cargo port when built – and it will be built – will secure our vital cruise industry for decades and create jobs and business opportunities for Caymanians,” the premier tweeted Monday.

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Category: Business, development, Local News, Tourism

Comments (66)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m sure if you look into it, cruise passengers are down everywhere. How is The CIG even trying to say more Caymanians will find jobs once it is built when there are hardly any working in the tourism field. This is a money grab for a certain few families and no one else at the cost of our product quality and environment . The infrastructure can not handle the current tourist load already and this government is so shortsighted it will destroy both stay over and cruise due to pure greed. I call on the MLAs to go and try to get from the airport to the Ritz on a Saturday at 2pm and then say everything is fine. Then they can go from The LA to the Ritz on a 4 ship day at 1:30pm and tell us everything is fine. They have no idea the damage they are causing to our brand!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Consider that the CI Port Authority, like a charity operation, collects just KYD$2.46/passenger (one way) for CIG…

    Then review the excursion price lists for the organized, pre-packaged shore activities sold by the liners (from which, a select few low-margin local operators benefit):

    You don’t need a calculator to figure out who actually wins from the existence of our island. It’s perfectly situated mid-itinerary with nowhere else of comparable security and attraction in the Western Caribbean Sea, for hundreds of miles.

    We’ve got it all backwards, and need politicians that understand we hold all the cards.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Oh yes, please let’s have some more of this in our area…
    Carnival is not the only one that pollutes but this article is both interesting and sickening at the same time.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Cruise numbers are down. You must remember that there were many ships diverted to western Caribbean (Cayman) in 2018 due to the hurricanes that ravaged the BVI and eastern caribbean. So it’s only natural that the numbers should fall when ships return to the east. What do they say, “Figures lie and lyers figure”

  5. Anonymous says:

    9:08 your Grand father Grandfather choose GT harbour !

  6. Chicken Little says:

    Also, so is the sky.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Let the cruise numbers decline, they are the dessert compared to the meat and potatoes of the stay overs.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mr Premier, just get the port going. We need it desperately. Mr. Dart’s crew with CHEC will get us a great job and low cost too.

  8. Ron Ebanks says:

    I think that how Aden and Moses is thinking about the pier is like how this guy some years ago was thinking , he went and bought a car and found out later that it was a donkey that he needed noto a car .
    And another guy that sold his bicycle rim to buy the tire .
    All true stories .

  9. Johnny Rotten says:

    Have these PPM/DOT swivel chair jockeys ever pondered that our decline in cruise passenger numbers might be due to our product becoming less and less authentic? 25 years ago, we still had the feel of a small island, less of rat race in town and certainly fewer buildings over 5 storeys and no concrete corridor in West Bay.

    Now we have fake beaches, super highways and most core roads are gridlocked at rush hour or more like half a day. People were definitely more friendly back then too.

    The proposed port is like a heavy anchor and chain that will eventually lead to the choking death of this island. All port proponents are too ignorant and short sighted to make an informed decision. They are spoon fed by the ever changing CIG spewed hype. How can some people here be so jaded as to watch the last nail go in their coffin, and all the while believing it will be in their best interest? The world can clearly see this is about a politician and his family interests.

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      Johnny Rotten
      You hit the nails on the head . They are only looking at what make them look good.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman Brac is a half hour away if you want the real island life. No traffic or Miami-like roads.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Maybe that’s a plus??? At least the beaches can be enjoyed by the stayer over tourists which contributed some thing like $283M last year. We don’t need to spend millions of dollars for the nickel and dime cruise ship passengers and at the expense of the envorinment.

  11. Ron Ebanks says:

    I wish that everyone will understand that if that cruise pier is built ,
    That it would be financially controlled by the investors, not CI Government. When it is controlled by them everything that is done will be to the highest bidder.
    Which little Charter boat Company , and Taxi / Bus Company fits in to the highest bidder category? ?? So then now you will be in pickings category and getting $1.00 of your $10.00 trip/fare.

    So putting it bluntly , it would be a pier built to make the rich richer until it is payed back to the investors with interest , then a wore out pier is handed over to you and CI Government. Do you known what you are getting when you buy anything 25 years old ? And in that 25 years the silt from the dredging has destroyed the other part that has been attracting visitors to Cayman Islands for the last 70 years .
    So what will everyone have 25 years after ?

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      The last two articles on how the government aren’t doing things for the benefit of the Islands and the people , tells me that it’s time to let the Government know that we’re awake and see what they are doing .

  12. Anonymous says:

    Alden only has 1300 followers. Presumably these are relatives, church congregations, the paid Russian media influencers, courteous/obliged CIG employees, and those remainder wishing to verify a corrupt mindset we already know about. The conversion ratio of 3 hearts out of those 1300, kind of says it all. It would be a sad account stat for the average high schooler, and sadder still for a so-called “leader”.

    • Anonymous says:

      Um… On FB it shows 4,418 followers… No point in posting fake comments. 4+K isn’t a whole lot either but stop with the fake news. You are the one that ends up looking like a dink. And you lessen the real ‘news’.

      • Anonymous says:

        Um it was a tweet, on Twitter not FB. Dink

      • SSM345 says:

        7.52, I am one of those FB followers but its only because I need sight of the BS he spouts and promotes; not because I support it. He’s the premier of my country, I don’t have to like him.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ie. Less than a quarter of our resident voters want any association with him or his Cabinet policies on FB, the inconsequential grand-daddy of social media.

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      I wonder if people are trying to say that the premier has turned Into a good.Leader Tweeter like President Trump . Will never be they have different agendas , one is for the people and the other is for himself and party .

  13. Anonymous says:

    “Progressives party began sounding the alarm that cruise numbers are falling and the country needs the cruise berthing project to save the sector”
    Let the cruise sector save themselves!! NOT our responsibility.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Who cares if the numbers are down!? That’s okay with me.
    Check this out;
    Bahamas are finally getting it…

    Stop drinking the Kool-aid

  15. Anonymous says:

    So endeth the boom? The figures were being artificially inflated while other destinations in the area recovered from hurricane damage and this downturn was bound to happen.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Funny how the ‘facts’ needed to promote the new dock suddenly come out of thin air. Is tourism in a boom or bust? Make up your minds.

    • Anonymous says:

      Air arrivals are increasing.
      Cruise arrivals are decreasing.
      Why is that hard to under stand? Tourists come by air AND sea, hence the reason we have an air port and a cruise port.

      Got it now?

  17. Anonymous says:

    the cruise lines that are funding this port project will take and pillage without care. they are interested in $$ not quality and they will bring as many low spending tourists to cayman as they can possibly squash in with no thought for the quality of guest experience or the people who live on the island. once they have their claws in we will not be able to shake them off. the stay over tourists will soon disappear as the cayman experience will become ruined. the cruise lines will create their own shell tour companies and strangle more $$ from local business, little extra money will make its way back into the local economy. School leavers dont want anything to do with this dock let alone work there. Yes they want to work in the islands tourism industry but not at the expense of sustainability of the islands tourism product and therefore not in the cruise industry!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Lol @ creating opportunities for young Caymanian school leavers. The only opportunity that will become available for these school leavers will be handing out Kirk Freeport fliers for $6 an hour (if that).

    The ACTUAL promo campaign should be ““We must support the cruise industry and build the cruise berthing facility to protect revenue and profits for the Tourism Cartels.”

    (We all know who they are).

  19. Anonymous says:

    FAKE NEWS just to justify their port plans! Coincidentally published just after reports that referendum signatures are nearing that mark!!

    • Anonymous says:

      WRONG!! Tourism arrivals stats are published the last Friday of every month and these were too. Has nothing to do with port plans or referendum.

  20. Anonymous says:

    You would have to be blind, deaf and dumb to not know that the government is using scare tactics to get the port which the country does not need.
    I would prefer hearing the government solves dump crisis.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are none so blind as those who refuse to see. 26% reduction in cruise arrivals is cold hard factual truth. We would be better off if it were a scare tactic. Pity it isnt.

      • Anonymous says:

        It would be useful to know what the reduction is based on. Did the cruise industry start running fewer boats here, change schedules, less passengers per boat, or are the past year’s numbers artificially inflated from the change of schedules due to hurricane damaged islands? My prediction is that we will see less tourists as we come off the highs seen from lack of choice, both cruise and stay over. However, it will have nothing to do with a dock. You are arguing that we need a dock to get back to the high numbers, but we got those high numbers despite not having a dock…

  21. Anonymous says:

    That tweet reads as if it was written by Donald Trump! Really PPM? Really?! Any analysis of those stats quickly reveals that a statement like that would be premature at best. But for it to come from the Government it is obviously purposely and purposefully misleading. What next?!??!?!

  22. Anonymous says:

    Its called slow season. It happens every year. Besides that the fact is we really should be looking to lower the cruise numbers and concentrate on the higher end cruise lines and stay over tourism instead of the mass influx of low paying people we get off of some of these lines, who not only put pressure on our small amount of resources, but usually also leave with a bad taste in their mouth because of the crowds they had to deal with while they were here. The airport should have been built better instead of trying to skimp on that and look to attract the stay over tourists where the real money is. There are so many improvements that could be done to the cruise terminals to make for a better experience without having to destroy what people are coming to see and these could be done at a fraction of the price of this monstrosity they want to build. This is coming from someone who has worked in the industry my whole life and sees daily the adverse effect of too many people from cruise ships.

    • Anonymous says:

      i have also worked in the industry for 14 years and could not agree more

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      Did we noticed in the article about the 3 sentence Aden said we need the cruise line pier , and we need it to save our Tourism the word are coming a few days after DOT boasted about record breaking Tourism. .
      This press release is only to let you that he hasn’t forgotten about cruise pier .

      But it does sound like greedy corrupt Stock Market Brokers .

      • Anonymous says:

        Our tourism industry is 80% cruise and 20% stayover.
        This means 80% of the visitors that come to Cayman arrive by cruise ship.
        They might spend less but they make up the majority of visitors by far and government earns a head tax off every one of them over and above what they spend.
        Even though stayovers are at record breaking levels, would you let 80% of your core business die?

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes, the per head tax is about $35mio/$40mio per year for Government income, but that is what the Government are giving up to get the dock built, they are handing over ALL the tax. 100% of nothing is still nothing. They could let cruise numbers fall to 1/10th of what they are now and still get more in tax than they will when they hand over the income. Your argument holds no water, sorry.

  23. Anonymous says:

    ppm are now doing trump style fake news tweets????……laughable stuff

  24. Anonymous says:

    How many dive stores can we truly support? How many jet ski rentals can be placed on each beach? How many more taxi and tour buses can we have on our streets?

  25. Anonymous says:

    Cruise numbers ARE falling. February was 11% down and March was down by 26%. How is that ‘difficult to reconcile with actual numbers?’

    And incidentally, March arrivals were the third LOWEST since 2004.


  26. Michel says:

    Part of the reason for fewer ships is that other Islands in the Eastern Caribbein that were badly damage last year, are now reopen.

    • Anonymous says:

      The other part is because we don’t have docks cruise lines are going elsewhere.

      • Anonymous says:


      • Anonymous says:

        THAT is not the reason. Those ships will go where they want when they want. YOU do not dictate to them. They dictate to YOU. You do not get this fact.
        I remember when we used to get 7-9 ships in per day. Not having a dock for them does not prevent them from coming here.

      • Anonymous says:

        Based on what? They were OK last year to come here in droves without a dock, but this year it suddenly doesn’t work for them? Don’t be so naive, the inflated numbers of passengers was from a lack of alternative destinations, cruise numbers will continue to fall back to 2017 levels as the other islands come back on line. Cruise lines want to be able to offer different schedules so that they appeal to the widest audience, if the cruise passengers want an eastern Caribbean route then we can build a gold plated dock and we would still see a fall in numbers.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Alden is delusional and cannot be trusted

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe you’re right, but delusional or not he’s doing a damn good job running the country. Watch the Caribbean news and see what our neighbours are going through. Cayman is doing way better than virtually all of them in every category you care to name.

      • Anonymous says:

        Cayman was always doing better than the other Caribbean countries this has nothing to do with Alden. You could put a monkey, rat, parrot, turtle in that position and Cayman would still do better.

        • Anonymous says:

          Or you could put a group of obese, bigoted and greedy individuals in the LA and …oh, wait…

  28. Anonymous says:

    Let’s hope so. Less is more.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Cant wait for the referendum to put you and your cronies back in line Alden

  30. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been fighting this port since its conception but I’m giving up on it. They want it built and everything is dead off Georgetown port anyways so go for it. The island is pooched.

    • Anonymous says:

      Keep fighting.

    • Anonymous says:

      Baird have already confirmed that the accompanying dredging and operation, in particular, the reef and coral suffocating silt plumes from prop wash and maintenance dredging, will not be confined to GT harbour. It will change not only the clarity, but also the temperature, acoustics, pH, and colour of the water off Seven Mile Beach, and ruin the diving on the West Wall – one of the top 5 wall dive destinations on the planet. Just because we have 2 more years of “school-leavers” in charge, shouldn’t mean that responsible adults surrender millions of years of natural evolutionary beauty, and trash it in a futile attempt to sell a few more Rolexes – esp. in a present and future where nobody under 30 even wears a watch anymore.

      • Anonymous says:

        Rubbish! Baird said SMB would not be negatively impacted. It’s in their EIA non technical summary page 19.

        And your information comes from where???

    • Anonymous says:

      George Town harbour is not a leisure park. It is a working port and has been a working port ever since the import/export of goods began. Every day anchors drag and engines stay idling for hours causing all kinds of damage so it isn’t all shiny new and pristine down there. Far from it.

      • Anonymous says:

        TBH, that ‘working’ port should not even be located in the center of GT. There should be a purpose built working port with infrastructure (ie roads) to transport containers.
        None of our roads have been built to handle the future. Not even the ones they have recently built. The new Esterly Tibbets should have been 3 lanes. It is already out of date. Plus they built purdy stone walls which will make it more expensive whenever they do realize it needed to be wider…

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