PPM accuses gov’t of ‘abandoning’ cruise tourism ship

| 16/05/2024 | 133 Comments
Roy McTaggart delivers a message about cruise tourism

(CNS): Opposition Leader Roy McTaggart has accused the government of a “catastrophic failure” in managing the cruise tourism sector. He said the UPM had adopted an “abandon ships” strategy, doing nothing as bigger cruise ships now plying the Caribbean are diverted to other ports. The PPM leader did not say whether or not his party still supports building a cruise pier after the party abandoned its controversial and unpopular plans for berthing facilities in 2020 due to the pandemic.

However, McTaggart took aim at the UPM and accused them of abandoning the cruise sector and the Caymanians who depend on it.

“Their inaction is a failure and a dire situation that demands immediate attention and action. Last year, cruise visitor numbers in Cayman were the lowest since 2002 — lower than after the financial crash and lower than in 2004, when Hurricane Ivan decimated our cruise business,” he said.

Port Authority statistics show that cruise visitor numbers have slumped even further this year. During the first three months of 2024, the headcount was down more than 70,000 passengers compared to last year, an almost 15% drop. McTaggart claimed this was taking place against a backdrop of solid performances by Cayman’s regional competitors.

“Across the Caribbean, cruise numbers have set a new record for the region,” he said. “But the ships carrying those record numbers of visitors are passing Cayman by. Amazingly, the recent government press release on tourism was utterly silent about the slump that beset the cruise sector, pretending that it is not happening.”

The PPM leader accused the government of not knowing what it wants to do about the cruise sector as the passenger count continues to dwindle in what he said was a vacuum threatening Caymanian businesses and livelihoods.

“No wonder Caymanians in tourism feel worse off under this government,” he said. “The government has adopted an ‘abandon ships’ strategy, doing nothing for cruise tourism while the cruise companies decide the future of Cayman’s cruise business by increasingly removing us from their itineraries. Cayman’s elected government should set the pace, not passively watch while the market and the ships leave us behind.”

For many years, cruise lines have said that they will not bring larger ships to the Cayman Islands until it builds berthing facilities, a project that many people here feel is not worth the environmental harm. Even those servicing the tourism sector have argued that it benefits only a limited number of local businesses while placing a significant burden on local infrastructure and resources.

Nevertheless, the PPM is keen to retain as much cruise tourism business as possible. The party has not yet said if it will return to the proposed cruise berthing facility in George Town Harbour and, if so, whether it will honour the successful petition for a people’s referendum on the subject that was abandoned with the onset of the pandemic.

McTaggart said that since being in opposition, the Progressives have argued that Cayman’s tourism sector needs a rethink.

“The government and industry must come together to plan for the future of cruise tourism,” he stated. “If the cruise sector is going to be reshaped with fewer passenger numbers, then the government needs to manage the transition, helping businesses and workers adjust, not just abandoning the sector to the whims of the market.

“The urgency of this work is such that it cannot wait another year for a new government after the election. It needs action now. The Progressives are willing to use the experience and the networks we built up through eight years in government to help this government find a better path for tourism.”

McTaggart said he hoped the government would put aside selfish electoral interests and work with the PPM to develop a new strategy.

See the full message from McTaggart below:


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Category: Business, Tourism

Comments (133)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    IF the powers to be see that we need a bigger better berthing facility then if so PLEASE , I REPEAT PLEASEEE DO NOT LET THE CONTRACTOR BE CHINESE !!!!!! FIND OTHER FUNDING. Unless you want to sell the Cayman Islands to the Chinese . Just look around the world and especially in the Caribbean what the Chinese own due to their contribution to that Country. DANGER DANGER DANGER

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    • Anonymous says:

      Voters are supposed to be “the powers” that be. The elected representatives are supposed to work for us, not themselves.

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    • Anonymous says:

      NO. NO! The answer is NO, full stop. We don’t care who wants to build it. They’ll be woo the idiots that will fall for the XXXX. From the Chinese AND Dart. Don’t forget that Dart is all in for it. Mostly because he already has his fingers in it. Has had them in it for many many years. Don’t you remember his 20-30 year plan for his island?!? Don’t tell me I am the only one that remembers that.

  2. Black Ching Ching says:

    Kurt’s ppm have no credibility whatsoever and his disciple Alden put their respect in the toilet only thing they have left is the current stalwart and her piety and that has no place in this border town we call Cayman Today !

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Why are there that small group of people who are so adamant against the Cruise industry? Its been going on since 1937. Cheap people come here and stay in hotels and Condos also. When they stay, where do they spend their money? Airplane tickets from Miami, local restaurants (foreign work permit holders who can’t afford rent), dive trips ( foreign workers that can’t afford rent), car rentals whom hire workers for minimum wages that can’t afford to live here?
    Where is all this money going to locals who have children and need to pay mortgages, insurance, groceries, electricity, water bills etc????
    Where is all the money from hotel and condo guests? Staff get paid minimum wages. Tips or grats is individual. Has anybody done a questionnaire with local people in that industry?
    People who complain are not employees from hotels and condos. Since blocking the cruise ship piers was based on the reefs and 7 mile beach losing their sand, didn’t that still happened? So total nonsense. What about, ” we can’t handle 20,000 people in town”? What’s the population of vehicles on the road now? another made up story.
    Local people still stuck at CI$6 per hour? That’s a disgrace pure and simple. That wage is from 1980 when a 1 bedroom apt was $140 per month and electricity bills was $40 per month.
    What really do you all think you’re trying to do? Well open your eyes and take a break from Camana bay or Sunset house and look around. This little island is in trouble unless you got a trust fund . Crime is on the rise and stress and anxiety is not looking good. The haves and the have nots are speaking. Just because you’re ignoring them doesn’t mean they going away. Wake up, we need a cruise ship facility

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    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman is too expensive for NASCAR tourists. It will never be a productive customer fit. We need to either lower prices and standards across the board, or accept the position we created.

  4. Anonymous says:

    PPM still scrambling for CHEC new pier payday.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Weekly beach flotsam cleanups can’t manage the trash.
    As a native here I’ve never taken a cruise.
    I just imagine what is sinking into the Caribbean Sea!
    The Gulf of Mexico is already dieing from toxic pollution! Not to mention the Air smut too!

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Boring parrot!

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  7. Anonymous says:

    did anyone commenting actually read what Mr McTaggart said or did they just make up a narrative based on assumption? It is frightening and baffling how the general public are unable to take the time to read, analyse and understand.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I think most of us read and understood. Most of us simply disagree with you. Yes, the existing cruise tourism model needs managing, however it has become increasingly clear to many people that cruise ship tourism in general is the wrong thing for the Cayman Islands; we simply don’t have the infrastructure for it, nor the services.

      Government makes money on the headcount, and they are the primary winners. I feel for those whose livelihoods are directly linked to cruise ship passenger numbers. We are overbuilding Grand Cayman and that is also unsustainable. We must decrease the traffic load or this place will be ruined. Already there is little for cruise passengers to do, other that wander around. I would guess that most who disembark here won’t choose to do so again.

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    • Anonymous says:

      If the central lament is that “big ships are passing us by”, then this is nothing short of another play for harbour redevelopment by a party that should never be trusted. They are unwilling to consider the position of the people they hope will vote for them (never again). Might as well disband the PPM and return the payments to their backers.

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    • Anonymous says:

      That would take a good education. Instead you are stuck with frightening and baffling.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The less cruise ships we have, the better.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Roy, unfortunately your opinions have been misinterpreted as a PPM call for Megaships and a new pier to accommodate them.
      I don’t believe that’s what you want, but PPM have been damaged by perception.
      Please please explain clearly and briefly that your concern is that UDP/UPM are mismanaging opportunities to improve the current shambles.

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    • Big Bobo In West Bay says:

      4:30, For the very simple reason that our infrastructure can no longer handle so many cruise ship people. It’s a no brainer.

      Go for the higher end tourists.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    CNS – can you elaborate on why the cruise port referendum hasn’t gone forward?

    CNS: Basically, the PPM administration stopped pushing for the cruise port because COVID happened. As a result, they said the referendum was not needed and wouldn’t hold one. Read more here. If you want to dig into it a bit further, click on the ‘Cruise Port Referendum’ tag.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    It is so fascinating reading these comments! Thank you to everyone in the Cayman Islands who is very much against mass cheap cruise ship tourism! It sounds like you are in the vast majority. I for one will definitely not be voting for Sir Alden if a cruise port is anywhere near the PPM agenda.

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  11. Corruption is endemic says:

    Roy should just quit now.

    This is not a winning issue. If cruise tourists are so great for the economy why did Dairy Queen close on the waterfront?

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    • McTaggart never mentioned a cruise dock says:

      But Mctaggart never mentioned a cruise dock. He talked about the government managing the future of the cruise business in Cayman. They have abandoned cruise.
      Talk to taxi and tour operators and ask them how they are doing getting business to feed their families. They are hurting.
      Small businesses that rely on cruise passengers’ business are hurting.
      But you don’t care about that. You work in your law firms and offices and look up your noses at regular working people in tourism.
      Walk in their shoes for a month, and you might understand- then again, you probably would not last the first day.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Maybe people would take taxis if they went run by a cartel and charged a reasonable rate.
        Four of us took at taxi in Barbados and it was 20 to the airport.
        Here 20 wouldn’t get you from fosters to the airport.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Think it is look down their noses.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The old PPM cruise thing never dies. This all goes back to earlier times and undertakings when a certain politician “promised Daddy a south dock.”

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  13. Anonymous says:

    What is sad is that this man was a senior and highly successful figure in the financial industry. And here he is playing politricks for an industry sector that simply doesn’t provide meaningful career opportunities for “his people”.

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    • Anonymous says:

      What is sad is that you have not taken the time to hear for yourself or understand what he actually said. Shame.

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  14. Cheese Face says:

    Good, lets just kill of cruise tourism entirely!

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Why are all these yachts flying the Cayman flag but never want to stay here? Because we focus on cheap tourism and not classing it up. Garbage strew all over the streets, people homes look like junk yards, fishermen living off empty lots looking like a homeless camp ground, the dumps always on fire, the drivers are terrible, crime is getting out of control… and and and….

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    • Anonymous says:

      you poor, sad thing, it’s a wonder you manage to get out of bed every morning.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Now imagine a whole Government Department with a multimillion dollar budget that cannot see these things!

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    • Anonymous says:

      There are no safe Marinas with appropriate service and maintenance facilities for multi million dollar yachts….does that answer your question..?

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      • Anonymous says:

        Not only that. Cayman is also too far away from everywhere else. The yacht types prefer the proximity of all the Lesser Antilles, which also have onshore scenery that Cayman simply does not have.

        Cayman had the chance to go for exclusivity. Sadly, it’s probably too late now to think DeBeers as opposed to Walmart.

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        • Anonymous says:

          We are directly on the path from the Panama Canal, and Colon Duty Free Zone, to everywhere else in the Caribbean/Atlantic/Med that is interesting, including dry-docking and refit shipyards in south Florida. Honduran and Nicaraguan pirates are re-routing sea traffic well away from Central American coasts into our laneway. Perhaps we don’t understand how welcome we would be as a viable safe harbour opportunity on these circuits. Pity about the cruise ships taking up the prime anchorages.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Cayman has some of the best wall diving in the world. Scuba was pioneered here. We are home to the scuba diving hall of fame. Many superyachts and support vessels with toy chests flagged to the Cayman Islands Registry carry submarines, air compressors, and all manner of scuba diver expertise, and equipment. How are there people here that do not know what makes us unique? It’s true that we are not Bahamas, BVI or St Barts, but we should be extremely interesting to the right people that know what sets us apart.

      • Anonymous says:

        We might install the permanent moorings that were proposed 30 years ago and target the yachts with their own onboard submarines. Wasn’t the late Paul Allen going to put these in as part of his reef damage severance? What was received? Did anybody check/cheque?

      • Anonymous says:

        Paul Allen, and other billionaires on display like him, never needed or asked for a marina, just a permanent mooring to power down on standby, instead of dragging anchor through the reef. He could launch and recover his own submarines without any assistance. Tenders and chopper to shore when needed to connect to private 737. The ship was the destination. They have no ambition to wade through pee with a red solo cup at the sandbar, or to swap stories of the high seas with our yokels at the Dart marina.

    • Say what? says:

      @8:37 – You have no idea what you are talking about. The Yachts are in Monaco and elsewhere and fly the Cayman flag for business reasons. They never planned to come here. I could say they don’t want to come here because of the ‘dangerous reefs’ in our harbour, but that would be just as silly as your comment.
      And I really have no idea how you link cruise tourism to fishermen, the dump on fire, bad drivers, crime, and God knows what else.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    One thing that will definitely get my lazy butt out of the house to do door to door campaigning against every PPM candidate is the prospect of cruise ship mass tourism.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Roy and his PPM colleagues are clearly working on one of two objectives – either stay in opposition or not get elected at all.

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  18. Al Catraz says:

    Does Roy Mctaggart ever have anything constructive to offer? His entire governing career consists of sitting in the corner saying everyone else is doing it wrong, while doing nothing himself.

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    • Anonymous says:

      that’s.the.point.of.OPPOSITION

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    • Anonymous says:

      That is what an opposition is there for, to question the government’s actions.
      In this case, that message is not clear resulting in readers cherry picking the bits that suit their anti PPM rants.
      Advice to PPM…. Make your posts clear, brief , and to the point.

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      • Anonymous says:

        The FCCA and DART have had the PPM on speed dial for over a decade and Roy doesn’t know what new excuse to relay this week, because there is no formalised cruise policy one way or the other. “We’ll be back in power soon” must be getting old. Lamenting bigger ships bypassing Cayman, also conveys precisely what the PPM sore spot is: PPM’s redeveloped port plan with cruise berthing for an RCL and CCL ship. We would then go from 5 to 6 ships a day to 2 max, and still need tendering for anyone else. Select pockets lined.

  19. Anonymous says:

    PPM maybe you need to consider that the long slide down to lower and lower spending passengers disembarking from each cruise ship is a reality you are hiding from

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  20. Anonymous says:

    Also abandoned:
    Education Standards
    Generational Survival
    Population Controls
    Preventative Health
    Inflation Controls
    Common Sense

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    • Anonymous says:

      @11:35— You Are So Correct— this Government is still Wayne’s fault. We have been sliding backwards for three years now. The election will come, and we will be worse off than we were in 2021.

      Today, I see that almost half the elected Cabinet is in Roatan. Who is running the country? Sabrina tells the Honduran people she is their Minister of Health. Really now! Where is the competence?

      Some might not like them, but Port or no Port, the PPM was far better than these guys, and the country was much better off.

      I weep for my country.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    As a soon to be first time Voter (West Bay South) I promise you this, I won’t vote for you if you support mass cruise tourism.

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  22. Anonymous says:

    What exactly did the backbench PPM promise FCCA and when? What happens to them if they don’t deliver?

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  23. Anonymous says:

    Does the Honorable Leader of the opposition know if the Cayman Islands have laws to prevent cruise ship scrubbing in our waters which is a major source of pollution probably contributing to Coral bleaching?
    Are there laws in the Cayman Islands that prohibit cruise ships dumping garbage in our waters?
    Cruise ships are major contributors to environmental pollution.
    This is another fine example of politicians keeping their supporters happy 👎

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  24. Anonymous says:

    PPM shooting themselves in the foot yet again.

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  25. Anonymous says:

    We need politicians that are loyal to the Cayman people not to the cruise ship tourism sector. Or the developers. Or the people funding their campaigns. The every day struggling caymanian.

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    • I agree with McTaggart says:

      From reading And listening to the video McTaggarts point is that, to quote from the article above, “ The government and industry must come together to plan for the future of cruise tourism,” he stated. “If the cruise sector is going to be reshaped with fewer passenger numbers, then the government needs to manage the transition, helping businesses and workers adjust, not just abandoning the sector to the whims of the market.”

      Makes sense to me.

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  26. Anonymous says:

    lots of the usual anti cruise brigade out in force.
    there is nothing wrong with cruise indusatry if managed right….however there lies the issue…zero management, planning, forward thinking by anyone in cig.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Has anyone sat on the beach and seen the profit one can make running jet skis? Renting lounge chairs for a day? Notice the tips a bellman can make or the bartender makes at the beachside bar? I sit in an inside office all day and only wish I could make that kind of cash.

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    • Anonymous says:

      There is no “brigade”. That is a false narrative. There are only people who are tired of seeing Grand Cayman get overbuilt, and the seas getting despoiled, and the trash piles higher, and it’s all connected; it all comes down to government promoting things which are good for their coffers, and servicing the wealthy developers. If we did a cost benefit analysis of the cruise ships that included the pollution of the beaches and sea in the “cost”, I believe it would come up short.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Roy – my large extended family and I generally like the PPM representative in our district but if you are telling us that you are going back this build a pier and bring in megaship nonsense you are going to loose that rep more than a dozen votes and that is probably the election.

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  28. Anonymous says:

    If the UPM formally stated that they were closing the mass cruise tourism sector I might actually be inclined to vote for them – that is how much I hate what cruise tourism has done to these islands.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Cruise tourism allowed my father to have a job and take care of our family including his I’ll mother until her death. Go s something stink

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      • Anonymous says:

        The cruise tourism sector of 20 – 30 – 40 years ago did contribute to our islands and my family as well but that cruise sector has long gone. We need to go back to much much smaller numbers of high end tourists only if we are to have a cruise sector at all.

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        • Anonymous says:

          9:13—Your point is what Roy is saying. The government should have developed a new plan for cruise tourism, and if the country wants to move to smaller ships, then plan for a transition alongside those in the industry.

          But as Roy said, what the Government did instead was to abandon our fellow Caymanians and leave it to the cruise companies to decide the fate of Caymanians.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Did not start with this government, all the same..useless!

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          • Anonymous says:

            The vast majority of Caymanians want either no cruise tourism at all or cruise tourism limited to small very high end ships. Roy said nothing about that only that the current government did not develop a plan.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Cayman is an expensive island not a high end destination. There is a difference.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Neither scenario aligns with NASCAR consumers that have never bothered to acquire a travel passport. Volumes of waste and degraded experience for REAL-spend stayover guests/residents, for a tiny head tax. In the best cruise year ever, 2019, this added <$3mln to CI General Revenue, and the entire year's worth of revenue was farted away in a Christmas NICE giveaway, as if it never happened.

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      • Creative says:

        It’s not the only choice to make a living and it’s ok to evolve your thinking.

        Please consider the issues being raised in this forum to see why people are against the form of cruise tourism being supported by Roy.

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        • Anonymous says:

          So, what career is a tour operator, especially an older one, and all his/her other peers in the industry, going to change to? You say they should change careers as if it is an overnight task.
          It seems that what McTaggart is saying though is if there is to be a change let it be done in a planned way. Give people a chance. Nothing wrong with that.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I used to make a living as a travel agent too…
        Times are a changing…get on with it

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      • Anonymous says:

        @7:56—The number of thumbs-downs to your post is an indication of how many here understand or care about what happens to Caymanians who work in cruise tourism. My mother worked in tourism, so I know firsthand how hard the work is and how she positively impacted visitors’ time here.
        Anyway, what goes around comes around. Let’s hope the ‘haters’ office job does not move overseas or their business goes bust, and they are left scrambling to make a living. Sad.

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  29. Anonymous says:

    Roy – if you want people to vote for the PPM then you should propose –
    a) Restricting cruise ship arrivals to permit only small ultra-luxury ships carrying no more than 200 passengers paying at least $1000 per person per day for the cruise.
    b) Restricting employment in the cruise sector including onshore and boating activities to Caymanians.
    c) Setting minimum per passenger rates payable to local operators for Cayman excursions in order to prevent the cruise ships from squeezing local people out of the sector.
    By doing that you would ensure that the few dozen Caymanians left in the cruise sector would be able to have a decent life while also minimizing the current disruption to the lives of local people and damage to our environment.

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