A giant Ferris wheel known as the Cayman Eye, offering panoramic views of the island, has been proposed as a possible new tourist attraction for George Town waterfront. The concept – a mini version of the famous London Eye – is being floated to potential investors locally.
Artists’ drawings and a website for the 40 meter (131 foot) observation wheel have been produced. The locally based entrepreneurs pushing the proposal say they have met with the Department of Tourism and are confident they can raise the US$2-3 million they believe would be required to make the project a reality.
The local partners, who wish to remain anonymous until funding is fully secured, say they have secured land in downtown George Town for the project.
Nadeem Samaha, their U.K. based partner, said the idea also included a surrounding park with gardens sculpted in the shape of Grand Cayman. He said the Cayman Eye could be a low-cost attraction that would allow tourists coming off cruise ships to see the whole island in 15 minutes.
Unmanned drone aircraft have been used to get an idea of the view tourists will get from the slow-moving observation wheel.
Mr. Samaha said, “It’s the perfect fit for Cayman. You have got clear blue skies, clear blue water and you can see all across Seven Mile Beach and the North Sound. It gives tourists a view of the island they wouldn’t otherwise get. You can come off the cruise ship and see the whole island in 15 minutes.”
The observation wheel would be built in Italy and transported to Grand Cayman. Similar attractions have been built in the U.S., including one in Alabama. The developers say it would be able to withstand a hurricane.
They believe the attraction could aid the revitalization of George Town by providing a fun, family activity for cruise passengers right in the capital. And they say it wouldn’t detract from existing tours like the Turtle Farm or Stingray City because tourists will be able to do both and buy discounted tickets.
“We are extremely excited about this venture, as it provides Grand Cayman with a novel tourist attraction that is the only one of its kind in the Caribbean,” added Mr. Samaha. The wheel would be located on an acre of land close to the cruise terminal and will feature stalls for local vendors.
“The site for the Eye is a few minutes’ walk from George Town Harbour and will rejuvenate the local area, as well as boosting surrounding businesses. It is envisaged that this project will be a key part of the regeneration of George Town,” he said.
“The park will have a strong emphasis on being ‘eco-friendly’ as much of the vegetation from the existing site will be reused, retail stands will be made out of recycled shipping containers and furniture will be made from recycled plastic.”
The developers say the park surrounding the Eye will provide a safe, scenic and shaded area in which visitors and residents can relax. They also hope to include a Caribbean market place and make the space available for public events.
Rides are expected to cost between US$20 and US$25 and last around 15 minutes. With the volume of cruise passengers expected to rise to around 2 million over the next few years and possibly increase further once the new piers are built, developers are confident there will be enough demand to make it a success.
A website has been set up at www.thecaymaneye.com.