Government is seeking consultants to help it find a funding formula to finance the cruise port project.
Plans for two new piers in George Town harbor were given the green light a year ago. Since then, engineers have been working to reduce the environmental impact of the design before the project goes out to bid.
A key sticking point has been the question of how the project will be financed, exactly how much it will cost, and how the funding formula will be structured to comply with the U.K. government’s restrictions on borrowing.
A request for proposals was published Monday for commercial, financial and legal consultants to provide services “in relation to the development of the financial model and tender documents” for the project.
The original business case, produced by PwC, envisaged that the project could be funded through a combination of the fees that currently go to tender operators – around $5 per passenger – and a share of the $14 per-passenger “head tax” charged by government for every cruise ship visitor.
If government sacrifices a share of passenger taxes to cover construction costs, it would likely have to satisfy the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that there would be a sufficient increase in the number of passengers to divert those fees without seriously affecting overall annual revenues.
Last month, Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell indicated that he believed a contract would be signed for the cruise project early next year. He said the decision had been made to secure Cayman’s future in the cruise business and all possible steps had been taken to limit the environmental impact.
“We know what the cruise lines are saying; we know what our competitors are doing. Taking into account all those factors, and knowing that we have to increase cargo, we have taken the decision to do the cruise facility,” he added.