Time to fish or cut bait with port

Summertime on Grand Cayman is always slow for tourism-related businesses, but this year it seems to be even slower.

A trek in May through downtown George Town left the writer of this editorial shocked at the amount of businesses that have closed shop.

Retailers downtown and those closest to the tourism industry blame the shutdowns and move outs on the lack of cruise tourism visitors, and more specifically, on the fact that we don’t have cruise ship berthing off Hog Sty Bay.

As far as a port is concerned, it’s time to fish or continue to cut bait.

If this country – and Government – is truly committed to building a port dedicated to the berthing of large cruise ships, then it should be done.

We’ve had enough of announcement after announcement of port developers.

First there was an agreement with Atlantic Star made by the previous Government administration. But when the United Democratic Party took over, its members signed a port deal with Dart Enterprise Construction Company. That fell through and then a deal was made with the Florida-based operation of GLF Corporation. The agreement with GLF ended.

Now we have an announcement that China Harbour Engineering will develop and run the port.

Still, not one physical move has been made downtown to show us that a berthing port will, in fact, be built.

And according to Robert Hamaty of the Association for the Advancement of Cruise Tourism, we are almost four years behind the ball.

If something isn’t done soon we may lose out on the lucrative cruise tourism market all together.

The debate over cruise tourism versus stayover tourism has long since passed. It is obvious that we need both.

When shops close their doors downtown, livelihoods of people are affected, and not just those who work behind the counter.

Those who lose their jobs because of a lack of cruise tourism visitors can’t keep money flowing through the various coffers in the Cayman Islands, putting even more jobs in jeopardy. It is a domino effect.

If we are committed to developing a berthing port the time to do it is now.

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