No airport for East

A previously proposed airport for the Eastern part of the island will not happen because of the redevelopment of Owen Roberts International Airport.

This has been confirmed by Minister for Tourism Charles Clifford.

Owen Roberts International Airport

Airline passengers exit the Owen Roberts International Airport in George Town. The airport will be redeveloped to make it more user friendly, which means a proposed airport for the Eastern districts wont be necessary.
Photo: Cliodhna McGowan

‘The Government has very carefully considered this matter and for a number of very cogent reasons has decided to redevelop the Owen Roberts International Airport instead of relocating this key piece of infrastructure to another part of the island,’ said the Minister.

Updated details on when the ORIA expansion project will begin were not available by press time and should be presented in an edition of next week’s Caymanian Compass.

However, the target date for completion was given to a recent sitting of Finance Committee as the end of 2008, by CEO of the Cayman Islands Airports Authority David Frederick. Mr. Frederick had also told Finance Committee that it was hoped construction of the main part of the project could start toward the end of this year.

The expansion of Grand Cayman’s airport is to address the country’s needs for the next 20 years. Its goals are to be expandable for the future; accommodate passenger boarding bridges; separate international and domestic passengers; separate arriving and departing passengers; relieve congestion; improve concessions; and accommodate Boeing 777 aircraft.

In other tourism news, Mr. Clifford said he has had very recent discussions with the developers of the forthcoming Mandarin Oriental Hotel for East End and all indications are that everything is ready to launch this project.

Construction of this 114-room hideaway resort will begin in the last quarter of this year with completion slated for 2008, he said.

This project, which has been marred by delays, was originally planned for opening early next year.

‘The Government is keen to have a Mandarin Oriental as a part of our tourism product,’ Mr. Clifford said.

When asked about improving some of the tourist sites in the East, Minister Clifford said the blow holes in East End are a popular tourist attraction but it is privately owned. He confirmed that Minister for Works and Infrastructure Arden McLean has been in discussions with the owner to explore options for a Government partnership to upgrade the site.

With regard to the Immigration Law, Minister Clifford said that a rollover policy is necessary.

‘We welcome all nationalities to our shores for business or leisure but this can only occur, as it does in every other civilised country in the world, within a sensible Immigration regime, otherwise chaos would be the result and none of us, whether we are Caymanian or expatriate, should want that to happen,’ he said.

‘In the Government’s review of this important piece of legislation we are always cognisant of the need to ensure that our two pillar industries, tourism and financial services, are able to efficiently operate while at the same time ensuring that Caymanians are protected and that Caymanians remain in political control of our country.

‘None of the people who are complaining about these Immigration controls would expect any less protection from their respective Governments in their own countries,’ Mr. Clifford said.

When the draft amendments go out shortly for public consultation, everyone will have an opportunity to provide input on the specific amendments.

‘I believe that when all is said and done and objectively considered, the irresistible conclusion will be that a roll-over policy is necessary. The public consultation process will help in determining just how the rollover policy should be structured.’

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