On GT Cruise Berthing Facility
The Hon. McKeeva Bush, OBE, JP,
Leader of Government Business (Premier Designate)
And Minister of Financial Services, Tourism and Development
The EIA for the George Town Cruise Berthing Facility
I am aware of the concerns regarding the proposed George Town cruise berthing facility - particularly, whether or not an environmental impact assessment will be conducted before the project commences.
Government will take precautions to safeguard George Town Harbour and Seven Mile Beach; for example, we do not favour the creation of any structure that will extend into the harbour and affect ocean currents. However, any precautions we take must be balanced with this reality: We are facing time constraints.
The Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association continues to stress their strong desire to see this facility built in Cayman.
Further it is widely expected that our northern neighbour, Cuba, will open its doors to tourism very shortly. We have to plan now for that eventuality. And in these days of financial difficulty, it has become much harder to attract tourists.
The Cayman Islands is the only significant destination in the region without a proper cruise berthing facility. As a country, we need to understand that this is a competitive disadvantage.
If we do not prepare ourselves to better compete, we stand to lose more market share - more than we have lost in the past several years under the leadership of the previous government. We stand to weaken the second pillar of our economy, which has supported us for decades.
It follows that the George Town Harbour area is the most logical place for a cruise berthing facility. This is where significant infrastructure already exists. It's also in close proximity to Caymanian business people who have made significant investments in order to accommodate tourism.
Although government wants to start this project soon, it will apply learnings from other environmental studies - such as the one conducted before the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal was built - to the berthing facility project.
And any coastal works licences will be accompanied by strict conditions for environmental protection. As usual, Department of Environment staff will monitor these licences, and work with the selected developers and contractors to ensure that our environment is affected as minimally as possible.
Government will soon invite companies to submit proposals for the berthing facility, and each proposal will be carefully scrutinised for environmental impacts.
We understand the principles of ecology and that species interact with their environment. We understand that we are a part of this environment and interact with it on a daily basis. Clearly, no one wants this interaction to have an adverse impact on our marine environment.
Government has therefore outlined a process that will consider the effects of the cruise berthing facility on the environment, while also putting plans in motion to ensure the future of cruise tourism in the Cayman Islands. This is our intention, and we are working to ensure that this is the outcome.
For further information contact: Kenisha Morgan