Tourism minister denies port conflict

Says port will benefit more than waterfront merchants

Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell has refuted suggestions of a conflict of interest over Cayman’s cruise port project. 

The tourism minister, whose cousin Gerry Kirkconnell owns Kirk Freeport which has numerous jewelry stores on the waterfront, said, “I love my family, but I don’t own any shares in any of their businesses in George Town.” 

Chris Kirkconnell, vice president of operations at Kirk Freeport, has been one of the leaders of the Caymans’s Port, Cayman’s Future, pro-port campaign. 

Responding directly, for the first time, to suggestions that his family connections were behind the push to develop new cruise piers in the harbor, Moses Kirkconnell said the project would benefit the whole of Cayman. 

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Minister Kirkconnell said a “tremendous number of Caymanian families” would benefit from the project, not just the front street merchants. 

He said a new cruise dock had been discussed for over a decade, long before he was involved in government. 

And he said the Progressives administration had gone through the process in the most “transparent way possible,” commissioning as many as 10 reports and making them available to the public. Both he and Premier Alden McLaughlin contrasted this approach with that of previous governments, which they said had spent millions trying to get cruise port projects started without success. 

In his earlier remarks, Moses Kirkconnell expressed some surprise at the level of opposition to the project. 

“It has been disconcerting to see this project polarizing the community,” he said. “This is somewhat surprising, considering a berthing facility has been on the cards for development in the George Town harbor for over a decade. 

“I can only surmise that some of the trauma is due to the realization that we are a government that gets things done, and when we say we’re going to do something, something happens.” 

He said the Progressives had campaigned on the premise of a berthing facility in George Town and had a mandate to deliver on that pledge. But he said they had still sought to gather as much data, information and statistics as possible to make an informed decision. 

“Even with the studies, statistics and feedback from the cruise lines themselves confirming the need for these piers, this has not been an easy decision for government,” he said. 

“We are fully aware that our tourism product is supported by the natural beauty of our environment. Therefore, it bears repeating that we remain committed to identifying the best possible option that will deliver the most economic benefit with the least environmental harm,” he added. 

He said the project would mean jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for many in Cayman. 

“Cruise tourism in our islands is made up of a growing number of Caymanians who rely on this industry for their livelihoods. They are not nameless, faceless statistics. They are the taxi drivers, tour operators, retailers, restaurateurs, tours, attractions, and a host of other service providers that work very hard to support this business.” 

Mr. Kirkconnell

Mr. Kirkconnell

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  1. I definitely support the Cayman’s Cruise Port, but I would like the Minister or anyone else to tell me how this; project, as suggested, will support a tremendous number of Caymanian families districts; and not just front street merchants,
    WHAT IS THE PLAN whereby Bodden Town East End and North Side will get a tremendous support to their families. I support the project but what will be in the planning for us.

  2. "What will be in the plan for us?" Really? How about getting off your keester and starting a business that takes advantage of 6000 plus passengers walking on shore with money to spend?? Anyone can take advantage of the business opportunities that will be sustainable if the piers are built. You just have to have enough grit and ambition to WORK for it!

  3. MR KirkConnell one do not have to be connected in the ownership ,to have a intrest to lobby to get something done for a special family member.Politicians from all over the world lobbies to get the right thing done for the cause .

  4. Just in case you are referring to my comments 1:06:41 PM, please be advised that I have spent more than 60 years contributing to my country. How can any Caymanians restart any business with so many greedy front line foreigners devouring every grain of corn that drops on the water front? I am retired and "Hello"!! definitely do not, and will not sit idle by and allow GREEDY PEOPLE to dictate my questions concerning the waterfront of this island. Again I comment what is in it for the people of the Eastern districts? Just answer my question.

  5. Is there a back plan in the event that the pier construction and later usage contributes to a faster decline of the surrounding reefs along Seven Mile and other areas?
    What if in ten years we have nothing to offer but may be the left over Sting Rays at the Sand Bar?
    Will ships still come? Will Taxi drivers and bus operators have tourists to drive to and from? Will stay over market still be viable?
    Just worried that our future might be more compromised than we think. Not to mention in my (no expert)opinion, destroying our natural resources for a possible gain is like getting rid of a family member so we can save in food and expenses.