The Government is working towards enforcing a maximum of 9,200 cruise passengers a day visiting Grand Cayman, in compliance with the National Tourism Management Policy.
In fact, this number per day should be enforced by the end of the year, Minister for Tourism Charles Clifford told the Finance Committee Thursday.
Under questioning from West Bay MLA Cline Glidden, Mr. Clifford said ships arriving up to the end of this year have had and will continue to have numbers on some days that exceed the NTMP maximum.
This has come about because cruise itineraries and passenger bookings are made up to two years in advance, Mr. Clifford told the committee.
‘Despite our lack of onshore berthing, the Cayman Islands continue to be a favoured destination on Caribbean cruises,’ he said.
He stated that, in the interest of maintaining good relations with the cruise companies and the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association, the Cayman Islands is refraining from grandfathering the policy on bookings made prior to the policy’s implementation.
In the meantime, he said that the FCCA is working with them to mitigate the impacts of these high-volume cruises and to coordinate the cruise approval process.
High cruise numbers were also recently compounded by extra passengers coming here as an alternative destination to those Mexican ports that were damaged in Hurricane Wilma.
‘The FCCA asked for our aid and we, as other Caribbean cruise ports of call, felt it our duty to come to the cruise lines’ rescue when their routes were affected by Wilma,’ he said.
In addition, Mr. Clifford expressed his hope that improved berthing facilities with the opening of the new cruise terminal will make handling the temporary increase much easier.
Mr. Clifford admitted that while the numbers policy should be enforced by the end of the year, the policy is the mandate given to the Port Authority and not directly in his control.
He added that in time, once anticipated redevelopments of key tourist areas that will result from such projects as the Go East initiative and the revitalization of George Town are well underway, the number cap may be revisited.
There have been preliminary discussions about moving the responsibility for the cruise numbers from the Port Authority back to the Department of Tourism, he said.