On board the largest cruise ship in the world seemed the apt place for Minister of Tourism Charles Clifford to announce that the location for cruise berthing facilities for Grand Cayman have been chosen, with the location at George Town harbour.
The Minister was speaking on Wednesday on board Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas to a gathering of local residents and officials invited on board to view the mega-ship.
Mr. Clifford said that just on Monday this week he had been in a meeting to discuss cruise berthing facilities for Grand Cayman. Although he could not say who those discussions had been with, this would be possible once the discussions became somewhat more advanced, he noted.
While a number of locations had been looked at, George Town Harbour has now been chosen as the site for the berthing facilities and now that this decision has been made, they are moving into the design phase with plans.
Because of the number of ships the port deals with it looks like the tendering of some ships will continue, he said, but this is something that can be addressed as they move forward.
Also, given the additional infrastructure going into place, Mr. Clifford said the National Tourism Management Policy, which recommends no more than 9200 cruise passengers per day on the island, will have to be revisited.
Because of circumstances in recent times, such as accommodating extra cruise passengers when Mexican ports were out of action after Hurricane Wilma and having to facilitate ships that booked a couple of years ago, the Government has not been able to comply with this recommendation.
The government has asked that cruise lines spread their calls out more. However, the Minister noted that the NTMP policy is now already three and a half years old and, hence, is a five year policy coming toward its end.
At a meeting of taxi and tour operators in George Town Wednesday evening Mr. Clifford told attendees that even if no more than 9,200 passengers come each day, if this number is achieved five days a week that gives a figure of about 2.3 million passengers. ‘It’s actually painting a better picture but we’re trying to manage numbers better than before,’ he said.
The highest number of cruise passengers to visit here in any year was in 2003, when just over 1.8 million arrived.