We support the George Town dock

The proposed George Town cruise berthing facility constitutes the largest public works project in the history of the Cayman Islands. The consequences of pursuing, or not pursuing, the cruise dock will be with us for generations to come.

Accordingly, the Cayman Compass Editorial Board’s “official” position on the cruise dock has not been arrived at haphazardly. To the contrary, it is the product of months of observation, analysis and research. We have taken into account recommendations from experts, critiques from opponents and arguments from supporters, and have listened to feedback from our journalists who gather information in the course of their duties.

Our conclusion? In order for our cruise tourism sector to remain competitive and viable, Grand Cayman needs cruise berthing. At this juncture, Cayman has the opportunity to create such a facility, and in a way that ensures that the Cayman people ultimately retain ownership and control over the port’s assets and operations.

Therefore, we offer our full support to government in its endeavors to construct, finally, the cruise dock in George Town harbor. We urge our elected officials to pursue the project responsibly — and expeditiously.

Allow us to elaborate:

We acknowledge that the construction of the cruise dock will result in significant damage to reefs in the downtown harbor. However, that by itself does not merit aborting the project. Of course, every reasonable mitigation strategy should be employed to preserve and protect as much of the underwater environment as possible.

The building of the berthing project does not guarantee — or even necessitate — a substantial increase in cruise visitors. However, because the cruise dock will result in Grand Cayman’s becoming a more attractive cruise destination, it will likely attract more passengers. More importantly, however, is that the dock will accommodate the largest Oasis-class ships, which tend to attract “higher-demographic” passengers who spend more at their ports of call.

On an island as small as ours, we should always strive for “class over mass,” “quality over quantity.”

Often overlooked in the current debate is that the berthing project also includes a badly needed expanded facility for commercial cargo. Consultants estimate that the maximum physical capacity of the cargo port — which is already below-optimal for our population — will be exceeded in the next 10 to 20 years. To relocate the cargo port would be extremely costly (estimates range as high as $200 million) and extremely impactful on the environment. The best option, in our view, is to expand and upgrade the cargo facility in conjunction with the revenue-generating cruise project.

Our two most persistent questions have been 1) whether the government can afford to pay for the cruise dock, and 2) whether the government can bring about the related infrastructure improvements that are necessary to make George Town “camera ready” for future tourists and residents as well.

We are satisfied on both counts.

First, we have seen detailed calculations that demonstrate the feasibility of the government financing the cruise dock, so long as the cost of the project does not balloon far beyond the $150 million estimate, using existing revenues from tender fees and a modest growth in passenger head taxes — with little to no loss in income to government.

Second, we are familiar with beautification plans (prefaced by the current expansions and improvements to George Town roadways) that will result in the rebirth of downtown as an inviting pedestrianized attraction — for tourists and residents alike.

Finally, we cannot ignore consultants’ estimates that the new cruise port will create nearly 1,000 jobs and inject $250 million or more into the local economy over 20 years. That, to us, is an important reason for pursuing the project. It will improve the financial well-being of residents whose livelihoods depend upon steady business from cruise ships, it will beautify and reinvigorate our downtown and, by extension, it will improve the quality of life for everyone in Cayman.

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  1. I agree that this dock has to be built but concessions must be made to make the losing end of this stick happy.
    Their needs to be an assessment of the amount of damage done below the water line and the extra proceeds reaped from the new dock need to be put into a fund to start a restoration project to grow and harvest new coral.
    I think with a well draft plan both side can be happy and Cayman can flourish!!

  2. I will be honest, I had lost hope in the Compass but they have fully renewed my confidence.

    After seeing the disgrace that CNS has become and the twisted positions that they and other news outlets have taken on many subjects, The Compass has proved that they are the only reliable news source in the Cayman Islands.

    I applaud the editorial board for their due-diligence in this matter and for weighing all of the facts.
    I 100% agree with Mike Carp that we need to not only protect the environment but make sure that everything we do can also be used to enhance it going forward.

  3. It would be so easy to support the status quo. After all, change is very uncomfortable, almost scary to some, and aren’t we doing fine now? Remember when everyone was asking "how can they allow them to build that huge Ritz Carlton on 7 Mile beach?" The future is not built on the status quo. I applaud the Editorial Board for their well reasoned and forward-looking support for the George Town dock project.

  4. Just check Houston news on empty terminals……….Despite the business – 52 cruises left the terminal between last fall and the spring, up from 25 the year before.

    Nothing is guaranteed but the destruction of this God given jewel called The Cayman Islands. Build terminals, more real estate, leave the Dump where it is and as it is, invest nothing in the sewage system updates and upgrades and see what happens in the long run.
    By the way the last article on atrocious sewage system troubles was published in 2010. Time for an update.

    And don’t forget about Cyanobacteria that produces more than 80 toxins that thrive in man-made ponds and lakes, when granting a permission for one in the Cayman Islands. Can blue-green algae blooms be treated? No, because it may release the toxins. Don’t let the genie out of the bottle.

    I think this country needs a cancer registry, but who guarantees it won’t be manipulated? And may be a registry on multi-system/multi-symptoms illnesses.

  5. I don’t agree with their findings but it is a good piece of journalism. I for one am concerned with the debt we have now, I think we are in the region of 700 million and we are going to add 50 million for the airport and 150 to 200 million for the dock. All of this is debt. The last time we were going down this road we were told that we would have to find a sustainable way to service the country’s financial needs and what was spoken about on how to meet our financial needs to run this territory in the future was INCOME TAX and PROPERTY TAX this is what i am worried about.This was told to the Cayman Islands by the commonwealth office as far as i can remember and if this happens can the people manage the cost?

  6. The apparent presumptive endorsement by the Editorial Board of the Compass, in support of the proposed cruise berthing facility in George Town, seems to have been made without the benefit of having read the scientific report published by the National Conservation Council(NCC)on 26 August, 2015. It would therefore be instructive for the Editorial Board to carefully read the NCC Report, if they have not already done so. The NCC warned, inter-alia, "We emphasize that short and long-term environmental degradation in this area will cause both direct and indirect economic damage that should not be ignored or underestimated". Having read the NCC Report, I would suggest that Government seriously consider the NCC’s recommendations prior to proceeding with this proposed project.

  7. Mr. Pierson,

    While I have always been a fan and supporter, when others told me that your time of relevance had passed I always defended you.

    This last statement shows that you are not fully in touch with today’s world. The NCC statement was published by the Department f Environment 2 weeks ago. This is not new news. I know that CNS appears to only have just stumbled upon it today but that does not mean that the Compass is behind sir, only you and CNS are.

    The NCC is comprised of mainly DOE, National Trust and several dive community members. It it of no surprise or significance that this group of people would side with anything that goes against any environmental issue.
    What you also clearly miss is that fact the Compass states that they have followed all aspects of this issue. Not just the environmental issues. They have come to a clear understanding of the economic and social implications of continuing with the pier or not.

    I am afraid that as others have pointed out before, your time of relevance may be well beyond the horizon.

    With all due respect sir, it may be time to acknowledge the new generation.


  8. The Editorial Board has reached the only logical decision which is supported by a wide cross section of the Caymanian populace.

    The truth; be it palatable or not; can be summarized by the following six points:-
    [1] To maintain our standing as a first rate stay-over and cruise port, certain aspects of our tourist products MUST be enhanced;
    [2]We badly need to enhance and indeed redevelop our Cargo Port as it is a vital infrastructural necessity for our future economic growth;
    [3] Tourist attractions; such as dive attractions, were a "nonsense" to have been placed their in the first place. Who does such a thing??
    [4] Without the revitalization of George Town and the building of the cruise berthing facility we will have chosen to be witness to our own "old Kingston" in 10-15 years time;
    [5] According to BREA (2012);the total economic contribution of cruise tourism was $157.7M; with an underlying direct employment of 3,547 coupled with $66.6M in wage generation.
    [6] PwC estimated 1,000 NEW JOBS WILL be created.

    In the real world, "if you stand still you move backwards".
    I chose to see Cayman moving forward with optimism; knowing that her best days are still ahead of her.

  9. I think that this editorial should have said who instead of we. I think that this issue should be looked at from every angle by everyone, and the most important angle is the feature. We should put our own differences a side and look at what is at stake here, and what is the gains. Like some has said, let’s put our money in this project for a small return and take that small return put it into a other project that is going to cost more than the return from the piers, smart investors would say not so smart.

  10. It is so nice to know that a dive company in East End has so many different ideas to offer divers .Coming to Cayman one would think that the only dive sites in Grand Cayman are only on the West side. But as we see today in the report, "Spectacular coral spawning delights divers" IT IS ALL AROUND THE ISLAND. Maybe we could advertise the Eastern District MORE.
    We have 365 dive sites in Grand Cayman and they are all around the entire island. If there is an accident , there is technology that can rebuild coral 25 times faster then in nature.
    David Miller NAUI and PADI retired diving Instructor.

  11. Just by the tone of this editorial tongue-in-cheek writing style is clearly evident and doesn”t reflect actual position of the board.
    Whoever made them to write it has never heard of "Seven generation sustainability"which is an ecological concept that urges the current generation of humans to live sustainably and work for the benefit of the seventh generation into the future.

  12. I just love the line

    "We acknowledge that the construction of the cruise dock will result in significant damage to reefs in the downtown harbor. However, that by itself does not merit aborting the project."

    Well, that is kind of the whole point isn’t it?

    To casually dismiss it in such a sentence and surround it in diatribe is a poor attempt at advocacy. In my mind the editorial opinion should be a balanced viewpoint, but this one obviously isn’t and is biased towards those who stand to gain financially. A poor piece of journalism.