The Cayman Islands is currently facing many challenges, including an economic crisis, pressure from the international community towards offshore financial service providers, and dwindling tourism figures.
The challenges create the need to make a number of difficult decisions.
When it comes to the issue of building cruise berthing piers, it seems there is a clear consensus of thought.
The current United Democratic Party government, the previous People’s Progressive Party and non-governmental tourism organisations all agree that if Cayman is going to remain a cruise ship destination, it must build berthing facilities.
Of course, the biggest worry is that the building of long piers in George Town Harbour will affect the ocean movements enough to impact sand deposits on Seven Mile Beach. An environmental study will hopefully answer the question of whether this is really an issue.
But now we hear of another difficult decision the country must make. Cruise ships are apparently willing to stay in port longer, even before berthing facilities are completed. If they were to do this, the average time disembarking cruise ship passengers spend on our shores would increase, as would their average spending.
However, the cruise lines want to be able to open their on-board services, including gambling, if they were to stay in port longer.
Since only cruise ship passengers would be able to gamble, some would argue that it really doesn’t affect residents in the Cayman Islands. Others, however, will say that allowing gambling on a ship berthed or moored in the harbour is a betrayal of Cayman’s laws and traditions.
Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush has stated he would like to see the ships stay in port longer, but allowing gambling on cruise ships in George Town Harbour is a decision for the people of this country, not just him alone.
We agree with Mr. Bush. But we also think that if such a decision is going to be made, it should not just be a single voice that is heard.
Years ago, when Mr. Bush floated the idea of a national lottery, it was the Cayman Ministers’ Association that spoke up so loudly against the proposal that it was quickly abandoned.
Although we respect the opinions of all organisations, we hope that tough decisions such as whether or not to allow gambling on cruise ships in our waters are made collectively for the greater good, and not by the organisation that speaks out the loudest.