Bryan calls for cruise port vote at next elections

| 11/12/2023 | 158 Comments
Minister Kenneth Bryan’s contribution to the budget debate

(CNS): Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan has said he would like to see a referendum on the idea of developing cruise port piers at the same time as people go to the polls for the general election in 2025 “to settle the question” once and for all. During his contribution to the budget debate on Monday, Bryan said that without berthing facilities, the cruise sector would go into decline as the cruise lines remain unwilling to tender large ships and the ships are getting bigger.

Despite the long-term expectation that stay-over tourism would continue to grow, that was not the case for the cruise sector, the minister said. “We can only avoid the elephant in the room for so long,” he told his parliamentary colleagues. “At some point, we have to address the fact that if we continue in the cruise business, we either have to be willing to accept the continual decline in passenger numbers… or reconsider our options in respect to having cruise piers.”

Bryan noted the level of public sensitivity about the matter and that while the people had called for a referendum on the issue, it had not taken place.

“In hindsight… that might have been a good thing,” the minister said. “At the time, people felt absolutely assured that the Cayman Islands was the jewel of the Caribbean cruise sector and ships had no choice but to stop here. Well, in the years since the question of piers was last discussed, we have seen that the cruise lines don’t have to stop here.”

Bryan presented an oversimplification of what the Cruise Port Referendum campaign was all about, and failed to consider that those campaigning for the people-initiated referendum were also concerned that mass cruise tourism was unsustainable, that berthing facilities would damage the reefs in George Town harbour, threaten the broader marine environment in the area, and put Seven Mile Beach at risk.

The costs of the project, the role of the cruise industry and who genuinely stood to gain from such an enormous development were also concerns raised as the referendum campaign gathered momentum and public opinion appeared to come down against the proposal during the last PPM-led administration.

Many people, including those working in tourism, still want the government to focus on the quality rather than the quantity of visitors, especially shifting to overnight guests — which is what PACT said it would do in the wake of the 2021 elections.

Nevertheless, Bryan said ships were simply getting bigger and bigger, so they would certainly not tender the next generation of ‘Icon’ ships. The minister said he was not there to advocate for the cruise lines, but was “calling it as I see it” as the minister responsible. Now he has seen what was happening, it was time to consider holding the national vote.

“I think it would be wise for us to hold the referendum at the next election… so the people can settle the question once and for all whether the Cayman Islands should have piers and remain a viable cruise destination,” he said.

He said the berthing facility did not have to be in George Town, where it may be a risk to Seven Mile Beach, but could be considered elsewhere. However, he said cruise tourism would continue to decline without the piers, and so the people should decide. “We need to know”, he said, meaning that MPs need to know if the people want them or not. Bryan said he didn’t want the administration to be criticised for not being able to deliver the passenger numbers without the resources to deliver it.

The minister accepted that the people might not want high numbers of cruise passengers but said he was doing all he could to try and increase them until a decision was made. Bryan predicted that by the end of the year, cruise arrivals would be over 1.2 million, which was higher than expected because of the “begging” he and his team had engaged in with the cruise lines. But he also accepted that tourism is changing and the next generation of travellers is looking for something different.

Bryan’s contribution also covered his goals for overnight tourism and diversifying that product, as well as the controversial plans for the airport, and spoke about the money that the government will have to inject into the Cayman Turtle Centre this year as it is in need of serious maintenance and repairs. He also revealed that the controversial attraction is struggling to deal with the demand for turtle meat. Pointing out that the subsidies for the farm come from tourism, he said a decline in cruise passengers would make the finances for the whole facility even more challenging.

The minister noted that the cargo port was reaching capacity and would also need to be redeveloped. He said that KPMG had been contracted to develop the outline business case to look at either expanding the cargo in George Town or developing a new one at another location.

Watch the minister’s contribution on CIGTV below:

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Category: Business, Government Finance, Politics, Tourism

Comments (158)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Kenny thinks he has his finger on the people’s pulse. Mek me tell you something. That finger is in a place where the only thing it could check is Kenny’s own temperature.

  2. Anonymous says:

    No, no, no. I haven’t spoken to a single person in 20 years who wants more cruise tourists. Just stop!

  3. Anonymous says:

    “the cruise sector would go into decline as the cruise lines remain unwilling to tender large ships and the ships are getting bigger.” – okay? and?… the island getting any bigger? nope. only the population and egos.

    • Anonymous says:

      Kenny, you are planning your demise. Stop. Get advice from one of your supporters, which I am.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Can’t recall having an actual referendum on it before, but since lockdown i can’t recall much. Anyhow, no problem with referendums and having them at same time as election makes sense for turn out and costs. Hopefully its still a no to piers, at least in GT. Maybe reclaim land in the SOund and dredge channels, create a safe harbour and marina. They do it in every other Caribbean nation but ours…how come we have the special reason not to?!

    maybe also ask the population to share their opinions on:
    Immigration and maybe cap it

    Vehicles (force everyone importing to first export multiple vehicles)

    CIREBA cartel and obscene commissions

    Bank Charges (seriously, wtf)

    Lack of Consumer Protection Act

    CI Peg to US$ (and how Banks pirate the false exchange)

    Cost of Living – impose price mark up controls on all food/drink/medicines. (Freight + Duty + 5% for example) and make them display the costs.

    Stamp Duty on 2nd homes ownership

    Health Care Insurance (this is theft, outright theft. There’s a reason so many small healthcare practices set up here, and your dentist lives in a mansion, next to their stem cell neighbor)

    Entitlement to run for elected office (All Caymanians should be allowed at a minimum)

    and so much more
    Oh, term limits.
    Oh, elected officials not being allowed own or run businesses.
    Oh…ban leaf blowers. Please.

  5. Just me. says:

    When your best is not good enough…..You fail. The debt Cayman islands has is on Caymanian shoulders. Your future generations have no future so live it up now while you can as it won’t last much longer.

  6. Anon says:

    I’m not saying that people can’t change their minds, but isn’t it interesting how Kenneth Bryan was running along with the anti-port campaign not that long ago and now he wants it?
    KB is one of the most dangerous types of politicians. Julianna and Kenneth are only out for what gets them ahead. You can only count on them to do what is in their best interests. Julianna committed to a PPM manifesto when she ran in 2021 and now she’s Premier of the UPM? How as a voter can you know how to vote, especially because there are some that believe you should not question politicians while they are in office. You only challenge the government at elections. Where’s CPR?

  7. Anonymous says:

    What happened to his last referendum? What were the results?

    • Anonymous says:

      Conveniently for Alden, we didn’t have one.

      • Anonymous says:

        Alden wasn’t the one calling for one from his illegal billboards.

      • Anonymous says:

        We didn’t have one, because Sir Alden, then Premier Alden, moved up the election date to preclude the referendum. I believe it is widely held that the referendum would have nixed the cruise port.

        The very same referendum which the PPM spent millions opposing and caused CPR to re-certify all the referendum signatures.

        This also prevented anyone opposing the PPM from the time to mount a political campaign.

        Hey, just politics, right? RIGHT?

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh how quick we are to rewrite history. The so called “early election” in April 2017 was only one month earlier than the constuitonally mandated date of May 2017.

      The referendum date was set and one of the major reasons there was no referendum is because some lead anti-cruise and cargo port people brought a legal challenge which delayed the referendum. They won that case and then lost on the appeal. Yes, at that point the Government could still have went ahead with the referendum, but we should also ask why did those who were supposedly asking for a referendum take action that they full well knew would delay it regardless of the outcome of their legal challenge?

      An example of greater “justice” for those with access to a lot of $$$ and high powered lawyers because it took a lot of both to bring that case.

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is 100% Big Mac pulling the puppet strings and running the whole show again. I did not vote for JuJu or this government. They do not represent my interests as a Caymanian with a growing family and the owner of small businesses. There should be an emergency election to bring in officials chosen by the people. We deserve to have representatives in this country from a free and fair election with an empathetic, principled, and educated premier who is not afraid to hit the trenches, cares deeply about their community, and balances it all with a sensible world vision – you listening Andre Ebanks?

    If these corrupt-as-f#$k asshats bring in this cruise port I am seriously tapping out. My kids deserve better.

    • Anonymous says:

      I hear you and agree; this is our collective pain: who is there to step up to the plate to replace them? This has always been the problem — those that would be good at running things are too smart to get involved.

      • Chris Johnson says:

        You hit the nail right on the head. Well done.
        The most honest people and the brightest want to have nothing to do with the current parties. I cannot blame them.
        Let us hope by next year we see a number of bright and aggressive Caymanians seek election to replace the old doddery crowd. It can only get better.

      • Anonymous says:

        Bring back Marco Archer!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I don’t mind if the vote for a port comes back no. But if we remember some years ago four people from West Bay were able to convince 4000 people to sign a petition about a road. Finally when the four lane highway opened people took their names off. We saved over an hour of travel time and made going to the beach safer.
    I believe the MP’s should be the ones to collectively be in charge to make the decision on large infrastructures. They have more information and understanding of the issues.
    People against the piers don’t know anything about the cruise ship issues. We are losing ships coming to Cayman as we speak. One of the ships didn’t stay today based on high winds but why did the 2 Celebrity ships stayed? Well it looks like he made his decision before the sun came up. The Captains are skittish when they can’t see and afraid of making mistakes that could cause accidents. If there was a pier facility it would have reduced the risk.
    Cayman has had many, many ships wrecked here and they were a lot smaller ships. Why anyone is fighting the obvious safety issues is beyond comprehension. Plus the constant prejudice to an industry is part of our history and culture. Cruise ships have been coming since 1937. We are not going to stop the rise in population, money talks and @#$%!*^.
    When all those old people start dying off in 10-15 years from now they who have saved something won’t be getting money from the Government they could be passing it on to other family members. It could help Government to stop from creating a welfare state like some of the cities across western countries.
    I still can’t believe people really believe banking is really helping the situation. The interest rates are too high and Government won’t increase the minimum wage rate in this country.

    • Anon says:

      And guess what happened in Mexico -the Carnival Mari Gras, that was tied up to the pier, had to call in passengers early from their excursions because the water was too rough and it was safer out in the open water.

    • Anon says:

      You honestly have lost the plot. We are allowed to question and why do you think ordinary people who have run for office are any more suited to make informed decisions? There are plenty of sea captains, marine biologists and engineers that can provide enough evidence against the port. You need to really think about what you are saying because going with the government because they are more “informed”. Government goes in to do what they want and what gets peppered with financial incentives, if you honestly, don’t think KB has been “enticed” to “change” his mind because now the cruise lines have given him offers, you are sticking your head in the sand. Look at traffic at the current state. People are complaining week after week about traffic when there is an event in town, cruise ship in town, minor accident (let alone a major one) and you think more cruise passengers is the answer? Honestly.

    • Anonymous says:

      There is this thing called research. As a beginning, look at Mobile, Alabama’s investment into a cruise port, which they are still paying for and will continue in the future. Check out Jamaica’s cruise port, in which they entered into an agreement with CHEC, much as Mr. Bush tried to do, before the UK stepped in to stop it.

      The world has changed. The cruise lines need us more than we need them, and they want to leverage us into building a port for their use and our abuse. Jamaica very much wants us to build a cruise port because we are the only waypoint between them and the U.S.

      I believe the mega-cruise ship liners are entirely the wrong way to go for the Cayman Islands. I think we should specialise — if at all — on unique and small cruise experiences.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Just remember we lost Marco for this clown

  11. Sunrise says:

    You all are just rolling for the almighty dollar. Remember Mr. Bob Soto and Mr. Kem Jackson, who sternly advocated against this dock being built in the George Town Harbour!! I would take these gentlemen advice very seriously!! They advised us that if we ever build a dock where they are proposing, it will be the end of seven mile beach, no questions!! What is wrong with our mentality? Are we seriously going to consider this destruction, to please the greed of the rich? Please, Hon. Mr. Bryan, may I call you that, after selling our Islands to the cruise industry? First; there are sufficient business from the cruise ships to make a comfortable living, if you all would have the concerted effort to establish a quantum for the local operators!! There is no control for the cruise lines to book and overbook tours!! Second; what are you going to do about the traffic control in downtown? You must be on a pretty good dilemma, if you have to think that this would not increase serious congestion!! Third and most important; do you really want to go down in history as being the minister to destroy the natural environment in Central George Town, for a cruise port? 35 acres, if I am not mistaken, will be destroyed!! Caymanians, stand strong against this!!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Cruise tourists are pests, who further clog up the island, and make life for residents a nightmare. The industry can’t collapse fast enough.

    There’s also no business case for long haul tourist flights from anywhere else to bring in more stayover tourists, because:

    1. Those flights will be more expensive than existing warm weather options, so tourists won’t be interested.

    2. Cayman is already too expensive for most tourists, in large part because a bloated, incompetent and corrupt CIG and civil service/de facto welfare scheme are funded by 20%/22% import taxes on everything entering.

    3. Cayman is now a [far] more expensive version of Miami. If tourists want that, they can go to Miami; if they want undeveloped islands, there are cheaper options. Cayman should forget tourism, and focus on increasing offshore work. The government hasn’t screwed that up yet (but with the increases in fees, beneficial ownership changes, and lack of competitiveness with Singapore, it’s on track to do so).

  13. Anonymous says:


  14. Anonymous says:

    He is raising it because he sees the numbers and knows what it will mean for our future and the many caymanians that depend on tourism. Just wondering what are the other plans for the booming metropolis of downtown Georgetown.

    • ANON says:

      ‘and the many Caymanians that depend on tourism’. And say goodbye to that tourism we desperately depend on when you destroy the reef.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The longstanding debate on cruise piers isn’t just political—it’s about our livelihoods. I agree with the approach of the 2025 referendum, remember it’s also about enhancing cargo facilities to sustain our growing population. The cargo ships aren’t getting any smaller either. Thousands in our community, directly and indirectly, rely on cruise tourism. I’m always amazed at how insensitive people are to the working class in this country. #FutureFocusedCayman

  16. Anonymous says:

    No, No, No.

  17. Anonymous says:


  18. Anonymous says:

    To be honest Kenny I thought this was a dead issue, the negatives overwhelmingly outweigh the positives.

    Let them ruin the next countries environment for a few bucks while we protect ours for future generations.

    While I agree during elections referendum questions should be asked to give politicians direction, our good ship Cayman is sinking (pun intended) and we need directed action.

    More poignant questions should be posed to ensure the pressing issues are addressed for the majority.

    Cost of living, crime, immigration, decrimilization etc…

  19. Anonymous says:

    Kenneth Bryan is just the worst.

  20. Anonymous says:

    ok. I look forward to voting NO but I hope government doesn’t waste so much money on a pro-port campaign like last time.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Focus on Stay Over Tourism. Focus on Eco Tourism. Focus on small luxury cruise lines.

    Let the large cruise ships go elsewhere.

    Your welcome.

    • Anonymous says:

      FACT: Stayover tourism leads to traffic jams and overcrowded beaches.

      Stop hotel tourism now and keep cruise ship tourism. It’s better for Caymanians and not elitist.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I welcome a vote and an honest open debate regarding the merits of a new pier.


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