Cruise creates conflict in tourism plan

| 06/02/2020 | 43 Comments
Cayman News Service
Stingray City, Grand Cayman

(CNS): The long awaited National Tourism Management Plan makes it clear that the Cayman Islands already has a very serious problem with cruise visitor congestion and its impact on the environment. But government’s solution is to build berthing facilities to grow the numbers, conflicting with the wider aims of this latest plan to improve and grow the tourism product in general. The plan was presented to the Legislative Assembly on Friday by the tourism minister, who again mislead the public about the cruise project.

Despite growing evidence over the last few months that the reason for government’s proposed cruise berthing project is to meet the demands of the major cruise lines and the struggles they now have with their Western Caribbean itinerary, Minister Moses Kirkconnell continued to claim the goal was to increase visitor spending across all districts with passengers staying longer.

But the National Tourism Management Plan (NTMP) is littered with concerns about over-tourism and the impact cruise visitors, in particular, are having on the far more positive overnight business.

The myth that government continues to present, that the ships will remain here longer, has already been debunked by the president of one of the main cruise partners in this project. There is also clear evidence that many stakeholders in the sector are very worried about the impact of cruise visitors, especially on Seven Mile Beach.

The NTMP is yet another clear indication that the cruise project, far from being a solution to the growing tourism related challenges, is going to make them worse.

According to visitor surveys, Cayman scores well on many of the criteria. ‘Value for money’ had the lowest score, followed by ‘shopping’ and ‘transport’, another indication that increasing cruise numbers risks losing overnight guest, who spend three times as much, and will be detrimental to the overall product.

The NTMP was made public when Kirkconnell presented it on Friday, but although hard copies were available at the Legislative Assembly this week, it does not appear to be available online. CNS has contacted the Department of Tourism to seek an electronic copy and we are waiting for their response.

However, the NTMP outlines a number of problems in the tourism sector, such as environmental threats, traffic congestion, stresses on other infrastructure and over-crowding at key attractions, which would all be compounded by increasing the cruise passenger headcount annually.

Government claims that the slight dip in annual figures for cruise passengers signals the beginning of the end unless we develop the controversial facilities, but the statistics paint a very different picture. Cruise numbers fell significantly during the financial crisis but since the end of the global economic slump, they have been on an upward trajectory, culminating in the highest ever visitor arrivals at the end of 2018.

Kirkconnell also gave out very misleading figures about the comparable household incomes of cruise visitors, which were completely different from those in the NTMP.

Speaking about the plan, which has a very heavy emphasis on the need to protect the marine environment and the beaches, Kirkconnell told the LA that the goal was to engage more local people into the tourism sector so more Caymanians could benefit, either through business opportunities or jobs.

He said the plan aims to address gaps in areas of potential success, but he said nothing about how the development of cruise berthing would do anything but exacerbate the problem that cruise congestion is creating.

Check back to CNS for more on the plan next week.

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Category: Local News

Comments (43)

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  1. Sheree says:

    I worked the cruise business, unless you have a novality product/activity to offer and can afford $2mil liability insurance and do not mind taking 30/70 of the share per head, that is you getting $30 per head while the Cruise Company get $70 per head, you footing all the expenses and overhead costs, while the Cruise companies selling your product 100% more than you offer to the Residence and Locals and they do not have to spend nothing in selling your product at their price, you will always have a Contract, otherwise, no other Caymanians outside the Contracts with the Cruise companies will never get more than what is comes off the ship that is freelancing to take their product/activity/tour, is what will be guaranteed to them nothing more and sometimes less, as on a busy Cruise day, the Caymanians out there hustling do not even get a tour for the day and make a $1. So building this cruise birthing does not guarantee no more money to Caymanians already in the business or even thinking to come into cruise business because it is only so much quota you can manage in your tour/activity/product and hours in the day to cover off on how much tours/activity you can provide within the day the cruise ship is anchored.
    Once the reefs are destroyed, those business offering snorkeling along the coastline, will not have a busy because it will not be any coral left to snorkel and see. Stingray city is already overcrowded, how can tour operators conduct a safe and enjoyable tour if it get more overcrowded? Then what? What products/activity can we create to earn a living when we cannot use Stingray City, the Dive Sites once they are destroyed and get overcrowded?
    This dock is being build for the biggest developer on this island, to use on off days when the Cruise ships are not in, to bring in the mega yachts to be taxied down to you know where to spend their money and time while visiting in their mega yachts…Monte Carlo here we come??!! uhmmm

  2. Kurt Christian says:

    Vote No

  3. Patrick says:

    Lots of Coronavirus on cruise ship in The Bahamas.
    Too close to home.
    This is no joke.
    Cayman needs to deny cruise ships docking now.

    Royal Caribbean Ship With 12 Quarantined Passengers Docks In NJ; Ambulances, CDC On Scene

    A Stunning 400 Million People Are On Lockdown In China As Guangzhou Joins Quarantine

  4. Anonymous says:


    Government should just shelve the proposal it is abundantly clear now how incredibly detrimental it will be in the long term to Cayman.

    I wonder who is getting their pockets lined to have to push this so heavily.

  5. Anonymous says:

    And those dunces are talking about 100,000 people when we now have car congestion etc etc

  6. Anonymous says:

    Mo$e$ KY Tourism Pundit, – more uniquely our own dis-information provider…

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’m going to call Moses from marketing and get his opinion.

  8. Anonymous says:

    They can’t even follow their own plans and laws. Never did. Never will. You can plan on that.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Why can’t the “people that are paying” review the agreements and data on a wide variety of public contracts and commitments? Things like: cost overruns at airport, cost of warehousing planes that can’t fly, cost to subsidize turtle farm, etc. Everything is redacted, non-existent, or top secret. This is what conspiracy looks like in real life.

    • Anonymous says:

      Is it a coincidence that all those you mention are under Moses’ ministry?

      This is probably THE WORST govt I have seen in years! It certainly rivals the one les by McKeeva from 2009 to 2012 before he was removed as Premier

      • Anonymous says:

        Really now. Then tell me why we have the lowest Caymanian unemployment in decades. Why is Government finances stable and surpluses are being used to repay debt and fund capital projects with no new borrowing.

        There have been no new taxes in the last administration (in fact duties/fees were reduced) and none in this one so far.

        You forget how afraid you all were after the last election and you thought Arden and Ezzard would possibly be leading the country?

        We have challenges but this is the best Government, alongside the last one, that we have had in many years.

  10. Anonymous says:

    There will be a much bigger problem if we can’t get a dock built and they stop coming.

  11. Anonymous says:

    It is obvious that the proposed berthing dock is a huge mistake for the future of the Cayman Islands. I have to ask a very large “WHY?” is it being pushed so hard. I thought our elected MLA’s were elected to protect the future of the islands and not the future of their purses.

  12. He Who Dares Wins says:

    When will Moses, Alden, McKeeva, Tara, Juju, Dwayne and Roy ever speak the truth about the cruise dock and explain why they are hell bent on going forward with it even if it is political suicide for every MLA that is with the govt?

  13. Sunrise says:

    It is very simple, the minister is pushing this project for the cruise ships and not for the locals!! It is just going to create more strain on the infrastructure as the report clearly states!! Let us stop the madness and show them for once that Caymanians are not for sale!!! It is the cruise lines pushing very hard to get the cruise berthing facilities as they are losing a lot of revenue not having Cayman on the itinerary. My people i am begging you to please think outside of the box and vote against this madness!!!

  14. Anonymous says:

    I think the photo says it all – we’re killing the proverbial Golden Goose by trying to screw every last cent out of it. You can’t have high end stayover or an exclusive, special tourism product here when the island often looks like a zoo at feeding time. It’s time to bite the bullet and make the choice – stayover or cruise?

  15. Anonymous says:

    4 ships per day max. Averaging 2500 passengers per ship. Every day of every week. Way more than enough visitors for all businesses to survive and prosper. Spread out the ship visits. Spread out the attraction visits. No need for piers just better tendering, tour, and queuing infrastructure & organization.

    • Anonymous says:

      And no Gay cruises because they cause earthquakes. And mass confusion.

    • Anonymous says:

      To 1.45 We can also increase the Caymanian share by sending home a lot of the greedy people making a living here trying to save there favourite money dive site by protesting the CBF at the same time disrespecting Caymanians. They are usually the ones dominating comments on this site.

  16. Arthur Rank says:

    Since the Cruise Ship terminal project first came up, I have been unable to understand why anyone would want it to happen. As it ploughs ever onward, more and more evidence has been presented to show why it has no merit, very little real evidence to recommend it. This article is just the latest to confirm that it is not desirable.
    So, as ever, my concern turns to the politicians involved, and why, despite the overwhelming evidence, they support it! One possibility is that they cannot see the reality, but a much more disturbing answer would be that for reasons only they know, they don’t wish to see reality. If so, then you have to wonder what it is that is distorting their version of reality?
    I have heard it suggested that vested interest or personal gain is the answer, but my faith in humanity will not allow me to consider this can be the case. So I continue to search for the reason, am I missing something?

    • Anonymous says:

      One simple answer to your first sentence – MONEY! The reality is that a very select group of people see themselves making a financial killing out of this. In fact some of them may already have done pretty well from kickbacks, handouts or ‘consultancy’ fees paid out by the interested parties in the past. When the dust starts to settle on this more than a few of them will have left the chaos behind and settled in their newly-bought mansions in places like Florida. Do I blame anyone who thinks like that? No really. If something like this comes your way and you don’t grab it you’re a fool.

      • Arthur Rank says:

        Well that’s really sad!
        First, maybe you are right, personal gain IS the reason, that’s sad!
        Sadder still, is that you find that acceptable!
        This project will cost the Island dear in money that cannot be recovered, but worse than that it kills the environment that brings people here!

        • Anonymous says:

          Arthur – I don’t regard it as acceptable, in fact it’s corruption at it’s very worst, but the reality is that’s how things work here. Until you change that anyone who ignores an opportunity like this is a fool.

          I get the impression from some of the daft projects being put forward as the ‘way ahead’ for these islands that more than a few people in positions of power can already see the writing on the wall and are making their own exit plans. They’ve realised that sooner or later the bubble will burst here and the combination of over-development, over-crowding and the destruction of the natural environment will turn round and bite us – I’ve seen it happen in a number of other places around the world. Of course politicians are trying to mortgage our futures to these projects because by doing so they see themselves securing their futures.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Cruise tourists aren’t bringing in any money, they buy a little souvenir then they’re on their way. Stayover tourists are the ones bringing in the big bucks!

    So let’s focus on that rather than cruises, in fact, we don’t even need cruises coming here at all, I see no point, all they do is destroy the coral reef when they drop the anchors.

    Town is a nightmare when there’s cruise ships in, and the tourists aren’t buying anything anyway. All there is to see is expensive jewelry stores (which tourists aren’t buying from).

    • Anonymous says:

      And yet they are a successful business that pays CIG tax with their money that pays you. But let’s not focus on that.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Few people would ask him the time and believe the answer they got – his”economy with the truth” is staggering

  19. Anonymous says:

    Unless voters are willing to change the standards of “how” important duties are conducted, and “who” is allowed to participate, we will continue to have to witness the same recycled nescience from the same unpalatable, low-performance, egotists. Sadly, no bright people, with any legitimate prospects, would chance the negative association with that realm.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Vote hell no!!

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