Key concerns over cruise port project, Part 2

| 26/08/2019 | 17 Comments

(CPR Cayman): As our Islands approach the first people-initiated referendum, critical data that voters need to make a truly informed decision on the Cruise Berthing Facility has still not been made public. The government should release any undisclosed information that they do hold immediately, and the referendum date should be scheduled to allow for the completion of and public consultation on the updated environmental impact assessment (EIA) and updated Final Business Case reports to allow our citizens to make a fully informed decision on this matter of national importance.

This letter forms Part 2 of a 3-part letter which seeks to highlight some, but not all, of the numerous significant and unquantified risks associated with this project.

1. Jobs

1.1. Cruise industry jobs provide average monthly income of US$1,662 (BREA report). How will (1) Short term construction jobs and (2) more of the same cruise industry jobs, regardless of the number, help Caymanians obtain financial security for a decent standard of living?

1.2. The EIA (Baird Report) estimates direct losses of USD $9-10.5 million per year of revenue and associated jobs from the loss of the harbour reefs including two historical shipwrecks, the Balboa (directly) and Cali (indirectly). What is the net number of jobs after watersports businesses can no longer operate in GT Harbour and restaurants have closed from noise pollution during construction?

2. Carrying Capacity

2.1. Cruise vs stay-over constraints: With only 76 square miles, Grand Cayman’s infrastructure and natural environment cannot handle mass cruise tourism, which displaces overnight tourists as well as local residents from our most desirable locations.

In 2018 both a record-breaking 1.9 million cruise passengers arrived by tender and stay-over visitors reached 463,000. The Department of Tourism (PWC Outline Business Case, Appendix D Pg 7) gave a limit of 2.1 million cruise passengers “to maintain the delicate equilibrium between cruise and overnight tourism”.

What is the projected or committed passenger increase with the cruise port? A comprehensive assessment of Cayman’s carrying capacity needs to be undertaken for long-term planning and identifying tourism caps, which many popular travel destinations are being forced to implement.

2.2. Cruise-ship itinerary re-routing: Cayman’s geographical location places us ideally as a stop between Jamaica and Mexico on a cruise itinerary. With cruises departing on a weekend from the southern US states for both clockwise and anti-clockwise tours most ships arrive on a Wednesday or Thursday. The minister of tourism indicated we would not receive an increase in passengers per year, rather the cruise schedule will smooth out over the year.

Will the cruise lines re-schedule their itineraries and departure days just to avoid Wednesday or Thursday being Cayman’s busiest days?

Will cruise lines stop repositioning their ships to Europe and other northern routes during the summer months to make sure that Cayman gets passengers instead?

3. Coral and historic shipwreck relocation

“Coral relocation” or “Translocation” for GT Harbour merely includes taking live coral from the surface of ancient marine structures. This complex habitat, with formations reaching up to 3-4m in height off the seabed, are the foundation for beautiful tunnel swim-throughs for divers and provides shelter for juvenile species of marine life, making it an integral part of the marine ecosystem.

Successful translocation is hugely dependent on uncertain, difficult to predict environmental factors, including increased susceptibility to disease. According to the EIA attempting to relocate 12 acres of coral colony could cost US$12 million – US$87.4 million, with no guarantee of success, and will not re-create the three-dimensional nature of the current environment.

How can the cost of coral and shipwreck relocation be included in the Option 2 US$196M cost when additional research needs to be performed?

Cayman News Service
Sotos Reef and surrounding reefs (Photo by CPR Cayman)

Part 3 will examine infrastructure impacts and financing model concerns.

It is also important to emphasise the referendum question chosen by Cabinet should reflect the original petition wording and be clear, easy for voters to understand and ensures fairness and objectivity.

Linda Clark, FCCA, MSc Marine Environmental Management

On behalf of CPR Cayman

*Information has been obtained by CPR from publicly available reports found on the websites for the Departments of Tourism (DoT) and Environment (DoE)

See relevant documents in the CNS Library

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Category: development, Local News, Viewpoint

Comments (17)

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  1. Jez cuz. (Caymanian gal) says:

    Does this make any sense???

    With the new Cruise Dock Facility:

    * We will destroy /forfeit marine life, dive sites, beaches and snorkel spots.

    *Still have cruise ships anchoring in the harbour because you know in season there will be more than 4 arrivals per day and the 4 at Pier will not leave early enough to ‘alow’ others to dock ( Or perhaps the Cruise ships will SHORTEN stops which will affect island and water activities?).

    *Government will be ‘comping’ ship/passenger taxes for decades, creating recurrent revenue cuts.

    *Create an infrastructural nightmare with overcrowding.

    *Raise our cost of living to accommodate the shortfalls of government’s revenue and financial obligations ( By raising import duties..taxes… And fees).

    * Inflate our cost as a vacation destination (since we are already one of the most expensive in the Caribbean) while we become dangerously overcrowded and stay-over visitors will abandon us for more desirable venues.

    WE DO NOT NOT need the Cruise Port Facility…our tourism industry is healthy and
    on the verge of maxed out for size!!
    Just ask our visitors..they don’t come here to fight the mobs!

  2. Anonymous says:

    This opinion piece is based on a huge amount of false information and false references on this project. The EIA had many glaring mistakes and incorrect information in the 2400 pages of the document. As just a couple of examples, the GT harbour economic study in the EIA was absolute garbage conducted by marine biologists and not economists. The amount of coral affected and to be relocated was grossly overstated by 1500% and the computer modeling in the harbour for ships berthing and departing was such an absolute joke of grossly exaggerated assumption, they had to pull it out of the EIA because it was an absolute embarrassment and totally incorrect and completely false. The author of this opinion piece would have not known these facts the same as the greater population of the country who are totally unaware of this misleading information. My apologies for being the bearer of the truth, however everyone campaigning against this project and all those who sign the petition need to be well informed of truthful facts and not to base their opinions and stands on falsehoods.

    • Anonymous says:

      says the man earning 100k of government money to promote the port and be a “savior of tourism”

    • Anonymous says:

      8:00, You are very ignorant about who the people who did the Baird study are. They are one if the top marine biologist and environmental firms in the world. They have economists on staff too. They have done environmental studies all over the world and are total professionals. They have NO / NO political agenda unlike yourself.

      You are the spreader of falsehoods for the simple reason you do not like their conclusions.

    • Anonymous says:

      8:00, Please look at Look at Baird’s knowledge and worldwide expertise in the subject area then ask yourself if you really have the expertise to challenge these professional people about the environment and port development.

      I can guarantee you do not have the qualifications to challenge the Baird people. But of course, you have a political agenda to promote.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Why isn’t anyone talking about how if they build those docks there will be a major issue with the sand in Seven Mile Beach. Forget the money and everything else. If they build the dock within 5 years there will be no sand on Seven Mile Beach. Just rocks. All the sand will be gone. No tourist will come here then. Not even on the cruise ships that we built the dock for will come here if the sand is gone. Why doesn’t anyone realize this?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well Linda looks like you made the argument for creating more jobs in cruise tourism rather than stayover tourism. In 1.1 you say that cruise tourism jobs pay US$1662 per month which is more than what hotel workers average which is less than US$1400 per month (Based on minimum wages of CI$6 per hr(US$7.25 per hr ) for 44hrs per week.
    You also say restaurants will close because of noise during construction. Really? Based on what.Isn”t this just another CPR scare tactic? Certainly not a good business plan.
    Finally linda… What is the question on the petition, you know the question that CPR wants to see on a referendum? We keep hearing that Cabinet needs to ask the right question on the referendum ballot, so what is the right question Linda?

  5. Anonymous says:

    The cruise ships have been destroying the Drop off reef since its first anchoring in 1937.The Cruise ship pier will stop the average 4 ships in port. If we have more ships coming we can have them come in at different times so that there will still only be 4 ships in port. But more could come and take the place of ships leaving half day. With a cruise ship facility we will be able to dock at night because we will finally have proper lighting. The reason ships have hit the Eden Rock, Soto’s reef central and Soto’s reef south is they can’t see in the dark. Pilots use GPS. We for an island full of boats rarely have channel markers up and running. Its a disgrace, no one talks about it.
    The Caribbean hotel occupancy is continuing to decline. The rest of the price rate is a lot lower then Cayman. Should we be worried? The wages paid at hotels is lower then the minimum wage. Why aren’t you complaining about that? There is no future for the majority of staff working in the hotel industry. I believe I know you, if I do you know a lot of ex hotel people on this island from Holiday days? They are driving taxis and busses.
    If construction workers make only US$1,662. Please give me their names I need to hire some. The plummer who worked on my bathroom charged me $125 per hour. The Electrician $100 per point. The carpenter $150 per day. So that report needs to name names. Proof is the cost of a sq ft to repair houses after the hurricane was $200 a sq ft.
    Our carrying capacity is nothing for the entire island. When you mention 2.1 million it sounds like a lot of people. But it really isn’t. Divide that number by 52 weeks you get 40,384 people then divide by 6 days and its only 6730 people a day. Its actually less than hotel figures. Its been some time ago, I know we have more but 2500 rooms times 4people is 10,000 people per day. But they’re driving all over the island and causing slower traffic. Now if we divide that by 5 districts only 1346 people. So really where is the problem? The Eastern districts have been promised that the go east initiative would help people in that area. We just need the Tourism dept mixed with some creative ideas to move people forward and Caymanians could make a lot more money then US$1,662 per month.
    Marine environmentmental management have anything to do with land tourism? It sounds like you should be in enforcement. Linda are you the same person that use to work in wholesaling Cayman to travel agents in the 70’s? Tough back in those days. Resorts offered free food, free diving etc. If you are I am not sure, I haven’t seen you in a long long time. I hope things are going well. But Linda ships are passing us by now. We see right now that large ships are not coming. In fact you can see for yourself on youtube that Carnival, RCCL, MSC,etc are selling smaller cruise ships making way for larger ships coming to the Caribbean. The problem is CPR really doesn’t know the Cruise ship business. 40 cruise ships for sale all smaller ships. These were large company ships that are not making a move to larger ships. Your narrative is false. Our busiest days are tuesday, wednesday and thursday. But if a ship goes to Cuba, Costa maya, Roatan, Belize and makes several stops it can easily be here on fridays,saturdays etc. simple.
    I remember when Ron Kipp was president of the Watersports operations association he saying we needed more ship wrecks cause numbers of guests who came were getting bored of seeing the same old stuff. Today all one has to do is look out over your coffee cup and see for yourself less and less divers are diving the reefs. They want shipwrecks like the Kittywake. I remember everyone was in agreement for 3 new shipwrecks. But nobody wanted to pay they wanted Government to pay can you imagine?
    From 69′ I can still remember the crowds of people going to the friday night Apollo 11 or East End parties, Galleon Beach Hotel eventually Holiday inn fiilng up to crowd capacity
    No one complaining about any crowding. Business was good at Sunset House people still go there, even if they have to wait a little longer to get their drink. That was our time Linda now its the youths time. We need the dock.

    • A. Bodden says:

      Anonymous 6 pm, why don’t you sign your name? You aren’t Caymanian, are you! I have reservations about buying information from someone who is unwilling to show his face or sign his name. Also you shouldn’t tell untruths…….. We DON”T need the dock.

    • Anonymous says:

      @ 6:00 pm

      You forgot to bring the elephant, or The Dump, into your comment.
      Each and every one of 2.1 million annual visitors add at least one thing, usually plastic, to the Dump. 6,730 pieces of trash a day (at least). The Dump is already unmanageable and it WILL bite you in the a$$ when you least expect it.
      It is at least irresponsible, and criminal at most, to bring more visitors without state of the art waste management system in The Cayman Islands.

      “majority of staff working in the hotel industry” are expats. In fact, nearly all of them are expats. So I am not sure what point you are trying to make?

      “Our carrying capacity is nothing for the entire island”.
      There are many elements of carrying capacity, such as physical, economic, perceptual, social, ecological, political, etc.
      Which one you are talking about?
      * Is Cayman “product” begins to look unacceptably degraded or still attractive?
      * Is economic dependency on tourism at acceptable level?
      * Do tourists perceive the destination as over-crowded?
      * Are negative feeling towards tourism by locals at acceptable level?
      * Is damage to the natural environment of the Cayman Islands at acceptable
      * Infrastructure capacities have quantifiable limits. Have they been assessed?
      * What carbon footprint 2.1 mil. annual visitors leave? Small island destinations
      have the highest per-capita destination-based footprints.

      So it is not how many herrings one can fit in a barrel as you can see.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well I guess investors don’t share your views on new hotels. On Grand Cayman we have in the pipeline a new Hyatt, Hilton, Mandarin, Four Seasons and a number of smaller hotels. The investors have their money on the line. What do they know about hotel development on Grand Cayman that you don’t know?

      Strongly suspect you have a direct financial interest in seeing a new dock built.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Verdant Isle will be paid $8 per passenger for 25 years.
    Even at current cruise tourist numbers, that is 1.92 million x 8 x 25 = $384,000,000

    When are pro-porters going to get this into your extremely thick heads

    The CBF may cost $196.5 million for Verdant Isle to build but they will double their money in what they actually get paid. They are spreading misinformation and should be ashamed. Show us the facts and all the information. What is there to hide or fear?

    • Anonymous says:

      Of course they’re getting more than it costs them to build. They’re getting paid over 25 years! It’s called interest.

  7. Anonymous says:

    CIG have already committed us to make up the cash differential pertaining to falsely presumed headcount gains, for ships and routes that don’t exist.
    This Cabinet essentially went ahead and unilaterally decided to put us on the hook for a third of cost, and likely more we haven’t seen the “deal” they won’t share – not even with the Caymanians that do this stuff for a living.

  8. Anonymous says:

    There is no introduction of “mass tourism” being proposed, only to continue to bring similar numbers with small annual increase.
    We are not talking about taking a place that hasn’t already been getting almost 2 million passengers a year and making a brand new industry.
    Tourists have been cruising here for decades.
    Cruise ships have been dropping their anchors on the reef there for decades.
    Cargo ships have been running aground in that area at the port for decades.

    • Anonymous says:

      So it’s totally ok then to dig it all up because “they been doing it for decades”? That seems like poor reasoning. When the ships anchor, they dont do it over coral. There is a boat there to help the ship guide the anchor onto the sand which doesnt cause much damage.

      It’s far better to have them anchor than to rip up all that marine habitat.

    • Anonymous says:

      The project requires at a minimum 2.5m at the early stages to 3.5m by 2024 cruise passenger arrivals per annum for it to be financially viable for the financiers RCCL and CCL who are partnering with McAlpine as Verdant Isle Group Partners.

      The government are spinning a tale about all tendering fees 5.25 going to the financiers. Let them explain additional $2 per head which comes out of Cayman Islands port fees. No surrendered to Verdant Isle Partners.

      During the winter season there will be days when Cayman has to accommodate 6-8 cruise ships. At least 4 of those must be tendered so no fees will go into the financing pot.

      When there is a shortfall the government and tax payers must cover those costs.
      That is how government are negotiating the contract.
      There will be no revenue sharing provisions which the government claim.
      The cruise lines have found an elected group of suckers to create the next Falmouth.
      The cruise lines will be in total control it’s a simple formula for 25years.


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