Cruise review examined

The rescheduling of cruise-ships to help cope with the congestion caused by several arriving at the same time is being looked into, Tourism Minister Charles Clifford said Wednesday.

Cruise lines had given a commitment to consider their schedules and to look at rescheduling times of arrivals and departures, Mr. Clifford told a Cruise Tourism in the Cayman Islands luncheon at the Marriott Beach Resort.

The National Tourism Management Policy included a framework to better manage cruise tourism. And the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal – due to be completed at the end of the year – would help things, he said.

There would be continued assessment of alternate locations for port activities and cruise berthing facilities, said Mr. Clifford.

They would continue to explore ways in which the Sister Islands might benefit from cruise tourism, he added.

The cruise sector contributed about $188 million to the economy in 2003 and he believed more could be earned from it.

It was recognised that 10 to 11 cruise-ships are too many to have here on any one day, said Mr. Clifford.

The cruise lines had agreed to look at their schedules to see if they could do a number of things, including rescheduling some of the ships to other days and looking at the times of arrivals and departures, he told the luncheon.

On a day when there were a large number of ships some could perhaps have different arrival and departure times, he said.

There was also a need to create more onshore attractions to better distribute the passengers, he added.

Turning to some environmental issues, Mr. Clifford said the Department of Environment had been very vigilant and had a monitoring programme.

Cruise line representatives assured the luncheon that they were environmentally friendly and compliant and did have a zero discharge policy.

Mr. Clifford said he and the present administration had high regard for the Department of Environment and its expertise and ability.

In response to an environmental question from the floor, Mr. Clifford said the previous administration had a policy over a proposed new dolphin facility and the present administration would be reviewing that to see if they would endorse it.

And in a further clarification, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts rose to tell the luncheon that the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee would be in operation, meeting regularly and abiding by the law.

Mr. Clifford said cruise tourism was a valued part of the tourist industry and he told the luncheon that Cayman would be hosting next year’s Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association conference.

President of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association Michelle Paige said that on average in Cayman, each cruise passenger spent $79 and each crew member spent $41.

‘The typical cruise ship carrying 2,000 passengers and 900 crew members generates conservatively $250,000 in passenger and crew expenditures alone during a port of call visit,’ she said.

Cayman Islands Director of Tourism Pilar Bush outlined Cayman’s National Tourism Management Policy and the efforts to convert cruise passengers into later, land based vacationers.

She said that the luncheon – attended by government members, MLAs, people from various aspects of the tourism industry, representatives of the cruise lines and others – was an important step in the national dialogue on cruise ship tourism.

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