Moses to talk to operators in port firing line

| 09/12/2019 | 55 Comments
Cayman News Service
Marine life in the George Town Harbour within the dredging footprint (Photo by Courtney Platt)

(CNS): The tourism minister has said he will have “conversations” with the dozens of watersport operators, as well as bars, shops and other businesses set to close as a result of the proposed cruise port project. While government has heavily promoted this project as being about making sure Cayman remains in the cruise business in order to support local businesses, very little has been said about business owners in the direct line of fire.

At a meeting last week with the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, Minister Moses Kirkconnell was asked whether or not businesses that would be forced to close down or lose their ability to operate would be given compensation.

Kirkconnell said the ministry would be talking to these business owners, but while he said there would be conversations, he did not say whether or not there would be compensation.

According to the 2015 environmental impact assessment report on the cruise port, around $25 million will be lost annually from waterfront businesses. This includes dive shops, submarines and glass bottom boat operators, as well waterfront shop, bars and restaurants that will also be greatly impacted by the construction period, which is expected to last as long as three years.

Small business owners who feel they are in the direct line of fire and have spoken to CNS have said they are very worried about what will happen to their operations, But most said that, so far, no one from government has spoken to them about what will happen to their livelihoods.

Business will be impacted and “we will talk about it”, Kirkconnell told the tourism business owners at the meeting, but gave no details, despite being pressed by CITA President Theresa Leacock, who said that some of their members had raised concerns that they are not being heard.

At a meeting hosted by the Chamber of Commerce the following day, where the Cruise Port Referendum campaign was given an opportunity to speak to its members, photographer Courtney Platt explained the value and particular importance of the coral reefs and the wrecks in the George Town Harbour to business.

Platt explained that the glass bottom boat operators and submarine-related business would not be able to operate anywhere else and that the marine life in the harbour was particularly unique. Not only are the reefs which are set to be destroyed some of the healthiest and vibrant reefs we have in Cayman, they are extremely accessible and in very calm waters.

They also provide a home to literally millions of different marine species and provide a major fish rookery, which is an important source of fish stocks for the rest of Cayman’s beleaguered reefs.

Describing the George Town Harbour as Cayman’s own sea world, Platt pointed to the irony that by developing piers to bring more people to create more tourism business, we will be losing a massive chunk of existing tourism business that depends directly on the harbour and losing access to what are some of the clearest and easiest places for visitors to see our underwater wonders.

He warned that even if some areas survive the construction period, never again will the water in George Town Harbour be as clear as it is today.

Platt explained why the reefs and wrecks in the harbour present such a unique opportunity for visitors to get up close and personal with some incredible marine life. But he warned of its demise if the project goes ahead and questioned the idea that these habitats could be moved.

“The massive 20′ high, 45′ wide, 150′ long Balboa Reef and 375′ shipwreck lies smack in the middle of the dredge pit,” he said. “A very recent CCMI study has confirmed, as stated in the 2015 EIA, that the harbour reefs are healthier than our island’s average and in some areas, far healthier. Moving corals off the surface of this in no way equates to saving the habitat it provides for all other marine life. These sites plus the Cali and Soto’s Reef are the only glass bottom boat attractions we have.”

Platt said that currently, cruise visitors can get off the ships and get in the water in a matter of minutes. He said that Michael Bayley, the president of Royal Caribbean, one of the cruise lines in the consortium selected to build the piers, has called on Cayman to create more attractions.

And yet, he said, the harbour has some of Cayman’s best, with hundreds of visitors seeing these incredible underwater sites every day, all of which will be destroyed if the project goes ahead.

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Category: Business, development, Local News, Tourism

Comments (55)

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  1. Anonymous says:


  2. Anonymous says:

    Civil servants are told to remain neutral on port referendum but the premier and his deputy is surely pushing hard to influence everyone to vote “YES” must be because of the large amount of money involved .If no money was involved there would be no noise.

  3. Anonymous says:

    “Put. The Coffee. Down. Coffee is for closers”

  4. Anonymous says:

    The thing about this whole ordeal is that the men pushing this truly believe that the Cayman people are stupid! Let that set in when you follow them blindly!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Yes a nice talk, maybe a cup of tea. Who knows, even a promise of some bribery and corruption. But why would you believe the man with the greatest interest in getting the cruise dock built? You would be pretty dumb to do so…

    • Anonymous says:

      Just been drinking with one waterfront businessman who says that if Moses comes anywhere near him on this he better be prepared for a fist fight. Emotions are running pretty high on this – people don’t like being told their businesses are going to be shut down to make room for more cruise passengers.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Make Cayman an Eco Tourism destination !!!

    It’s not hard !

    • Anonymous says:

      An Aco Tourism destination! What a brilliant idea. Limit the cruise ships to a yawn and promote stayovers. That’s where the money is for everybody.

    • Anonymous says:

      4:13 Sadly, that option died at least a decade ago. Best we can do now is bring people in to show them how it shouldn’t be done.

  7. Anonymous says:

    What is the point of ‘potentially’ creating jobs for Caymanians when they will keep $20 but the Cruise ships will keep $80 ? How is that a good thing ?

    • SSM345 says:

      Good question seeing as they have put a freeze on licenses for our most popular attraction i.e. the sandbar.

      Everyday we learn more on this project that makes everyone with anything in between their ears wonder what the f**k are they thinking going ahead with this because it makes no sense whatsoever.

      • Jotnar says:

        Oh it makes sense alright – IF you have an economic interest in the construction project, increased footfall in duty free shops or in the cruise lines strategic interest in gaining competitive advantage in access to Cayman. All a matter of perspective, and what’s in it for me. National, environmental, patrimony – not so much.

  8. Anonymous says:

    …MarineLand Tours has made a coastal works application to install moorings to support a multi-level tourist pontoon just yards from the Sandbar in the North Sound. The application indicates that the owners want to create a tourist attraction in the area with water slides, snorkelling trips, an underwater observation gallery and several sun decks. The 150ft pontoon was described as a “luxury product” in the documents submitted to Cabinet, which will decide whether or not to grant the application.

    MarineLand is owned by the Eldemire family, which already offers a number of tourism attractions and services, but in this application they repeatedly refer to the need for more attractions as well as the expansion and adaption of the existing tourism product to compete with other destinations…

    • Anonymous says:

      OMFG Are you serious???

      I’ve been wondering what the name of the company that Carnival is involved in that a Caymanian fronted for them but that noise has gone super quiet… I hope this isn’t the one.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Moses – let us know when and where. Now we are in high season is he hoping that we’ll be too busy so he doesn’t have to tell the voters how he’s about to lose them their livelihood?

  10. Anonymous says:

    If Government had had their way wouldn’t this thing already be starting? At what point are these spineless parasites going to let their voters know what the plan is so that those of us with GT businesses can make sensible business decisions to try and minimise our risk? You wouldn’t want to make this up and this is completely unfair. You are playing with other people’s livelihoods while receiving a salary paid from money we make for you!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Shouldn’t speaking to the individuals have been part of the government’s due diligence process?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Lookin like the little guy DOES NOT NEED TO BE CONSIDERED.
    Cannot make this up.

    • Anonymous says:

      Is anyone old enough to remember when the Cayman government voted NOT to build a port because the reefs were too important to stay over tourist business?

      • Anonymous says:

        Do tell.
        Why would you make such a flippant comment without expanding wth you are talking about?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Mind you they have been planning this for 6 years and only now are they going to reach out to these businesses who will be most affected?
    This strikes me as the kind of thing that should have been done years ago

  14. Anonymous says:

    Well Moses, looks like postponing the Referendum was a good thing.

    At least now you will have a chance to discuss the effects of the Port with those businesses affected.

    Why did you and Alden want to ram it through without a Referendum anyway?

    • Anonymous says:

      Because they didn’t want to discuss anything with anyone. Alden can’t run again as premier and wanted to ram this through while he still had the power to do it. His entire plan has been based on the idea that the public was too apathetic to appose him.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Simple question. Why are they pushing so hard to do something that is effectively going to destroy GT, not just the underwater areas but also the established businesses in the town, when there are alternative options outside the town area. It makes you wonder who will make a killing when the properties have to be bought up to build the thing.

    Some of this reminds of what went on when I was in Grand Turk some years ago. The government wanted to build the cruise dock right in Cockburn Town. It didn’t go down very well, they didn’t get re-elected and the dock was built at the far end of the island. I saw it being built and by all accounts it works very well. Apparently (and it was only a rumour) the push to build in the town there related to potential property sales.

  16. Anonymous says:


  17. Anonymous says:

    Hard to believe this is even being considered. “ Paved Paradise to put up a parking lot”🎼

  18. Anonymous says:

    The Best is the enemy of the Good.

  19. Anonymous says:

    You can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs

    • Anonymous says:

      Sure but this project was supposed to be about creating Caymanian jobs (which MIGHT happen, although the cruise industry will own their souls) and instead it is very clear that many Caymanians will lose their jobs or businesses (which WILL happen). Also, every dollar earned by a Caymanian goes back into our local economy but every dollar spent in these new shops goes mainly off island to a manufacturer or distributor.

    • Anonymous says:

      10:34 Try this saying, “Everybody has a right to be stupid, but some people abuse the privilege.” Attributed to Stalin!

    • The Chef says:

      We aren’t making omelettes, dummy!

    • Anonymous says:

      Is that a valid excuse for dropping the carton, smashing them with a sledgehammer then promising you will bring in a scientific expert to regrow the eggs you already had in a new place?

      Only in Cayman could we seriously be considering destroying the very attractions that bring people here while claiming it will benefit tourism then hiring a group of foreigners to regrow natural habitats we already possessed

    • Anonymous says:

      Eggbeaters beg to differ

  20. Kurt Christian says:

    Register To Vote

    • Anonymous says:

      And vote no, and then vote them all out. Time to drain the swamp, Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes – register now. Registrar need to publish a new list in March. That date will probably pass by time the court gets done with the judicial review – so if you register now, you can still be in time to qualify for the referendum.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Mo$es, Mo$es, Mo$e$ – getting all hot under the collar because of a delay in the referendum vote yet only just now beginning to address the concerns of the small business owners who will be impacted because they’re making enough noise to be heard, beyond shameful.

    You Mr Minister should resign, absolute violation of the people’s trust put in you, disgraceful. For the environment and the complete lack of ethical principals by our Govt. (Aldart & Co) VOTE NO

    • Anonymous says:

      Talk through the grape vines is that Moses not standing for election in 2021 so when all the crap is flying he will be retired in his mansion on the Brac – or elsewhere. It won’t bother him none. What a legacy he will leave behind..” built the piers, closed down private businesses, destroyed the coral and dive sites in GT Harbour, suffocated all the fish, destroyed 7 mile beach but retired with oodles of dough” please remember it is not what you take when you go but what you leave behind.

      • Charles. Whittaker says:

        They don’t care about the people and their businesses only what is in this for themselves!
        Moses shouldn’t even be envolved in this port deal because it is a conflict of interest!
        Caymanians needs to hold these policitians personally responsible to send a message!
        All of the constant talk about voting themout next election isn’t going to solve the issue sadly far too many of our people are sellouts most are liking for an opportunity to capitalize on being government! So until the people hold them personally accountable there will never be change!
        This is the government that is perfect to make an example of!
        Charles Edward’s Whittaker!

  22. Anonymous says:

    less than 1% of our coral will be impacted – and that will be addressed through relocation and resoration – and even if that’s only 50% successful, we are hardly talking about ‘destroying’ everything…

    • Anonymous says:

      De-oxygenizing GT harbour, will have far-reaching consequences for the reef along the Western Wall of Grand Cayman and Seven Mile Beach. It changes the salinity levels, temperature, acoustic properties, clarity, and the suspension will move on seasonal current both north and south, as Baird cautioned in 2015. We aren’t even getting into the 100% surety of dynamic silicate agitation problems in seasonal NorWester and Hurricane seasons. This immediate area of 10 miles in each direction is where 95% of all the recreational diving in the Cayman Islands takes place, and most of the stayover tourism, and high-contribution visitor and resident condos are situated.

    • Anonymous says:

      9:13 Maybe true (although I rather doubt it) but you will also be wiping out numerous businesses in GT and making the whole area a ‘no-go’ zone for about two years while the dock is being built. That sounds like destruction to me.

    • Anonymous says:

      And you believe that? Apparently you were still sleeping at 9:13.

    • Anonymous says:

      1% here, next it will be 2-3% and before you know it we will go from having pristine reefs and hundreds of dive sites to one or two that are overcrowded like Stingray City until there is nothing left

      We are trying to PRESERVE what we have now for the future
      Cruise corporations exist to extract wealth from their consumers leaving the scraps for the jurisdictions they visit, while dumping waste and polluting the environment as they go
      They don’t give a rats ass about how much coral they destroy Cayman is just one Island on their itinerary, they sail on every day after a couple of hours
      It will be Caymanians who are here after they are gone trying to sort out their messes
      Approving this project will be the start of the slow selling off of more and more of our assets for promises of returns and “great deals”

      Vote no

  23. Anonymous says:

    VOTE NO!

  24. Anonymous says:

    There should hardly be any loss outside of the tender company. The Balboa is the only dive site directly in the project footprint but that will be moved. Right now you can only dive the Balboa with special permission so if moved you can dive it more. Just need to do the project the right way.

    • Anonymous says:

      OK. Now engage your brain. Maybe even read the article. Even CIG can see that businesses will be impacted. Watersports operators, retailers, bars and restaurants – not just the tender company. 3 years plus of construction and the GT waterfront a giant construction site with the water churned up. How many cruise ship passengers will be able to be brought in? To where? How many hotel guests will want to come into GT? Most local businesses won’t be able to sustain themselves for 3 years because they don’t have the benefit of additional income earned from other islands to tide them through this. It will almost certainly be the end for a number of us. And Government haven’t yet had the decency to address this with those of us who have invested our time and energy.

    • Anonymous says:

      9:01 Look at the plan and figure out how many businesses will have to be shut down. You can be damn sure with Carnival pulling the strings they won’t be offered re-location on the new dock – they’ll be gone, shut down, out of business.

  25. Anonymous says:

    The tone deaf cronyism seems unstoppable. I’d like to believe this regime is just dumb, but it seems more sinister than that. There will be no credibility, or baseline trust, until the Port bid documents are published for review, and SIPL is enacted with a full audit done of all senior civil servants going back several years. Let’s start there, with truth.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Talk just Talk not do anything just talk. Moses you are a joke!

  27. Anonymous says:

    The phrase ‘charm offensive’ comes to mind here.

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