Today’s Editorial August 1: Good luck Mr. Clifford

It appears Tourism Minister Charles Clifford is ready to do something about the unbearable congestion of human souls in downtown George Town.

And we welcome his efforts.

It is acknowledged by just about everyone in the Cayman Islands just how much cruise tourism means to this country.

It is also acknowledged by just about everyone that trying to do business downtown can be a downright miserable occurrence when five or more cruise ships are in port at one time and thousands of cruisers are busy touring our shops and leaving behind their hard-earned or inherited dollars.

There’s no argument that the cruise ship industry means a lot to Cayman’s coffers.

It is estimated that a typical cruise ship carrying 2,000 passengers and 900 crew members generates a conservative $250,000 in passenger and crew expenditure at each port of call visit.

Take that figure and multiply it by 20 or more ships that arrive here weekly and you’ve got a nice chunk of change being left on these shores to help keep things like the government running.

But there has to be a happy medium between the monetary benefits and the unpleasant experience of fighting huge crowds of people on high cruise ship days.

Mr. Clifford has already vowed to continue to assess alternative sites for port activities and berthing facilities.

On top of the balancing act on Grand Cayman, a way must be found to bring the benefits of cruise tourism to the Sister Islands.

It’s a balancing act that will have Mr. Clifford’s hands full, and we wish him luck.

Cruise lines have already agreed to consider their schedules and look at rescheduling times of arrivals and departures.

But the bottom line is that the cruise sector contributed nearly $188 million to the Cayman Islands economy in 2003; a figure that has the potential to continue to grow.

Mr. Clifford is very aware of the monetary gains of cruise tourism.

He’s also very aware of the burden cruise tourism places on the people who live and work on Grand Cayman.

His is an unenviable task, but one in which we wish him luck and success.