Premier Alden McLaughlin reaffirmed his government’s commitment to press ahead with plans for a cruise berthing facility in George Town harbor in the face of increasingly vocal opposition to the project.

With a campaign group gathering signatures in an effort to trigger a “people’s referendum” and a separate Opposition motion tabled calling for the people of the Cayman Islands to decide the fate of the project, Mr. McLaughlin used his State of the Nation address at the opening of the Legislative Assembly session on Cayman Brac Wednesday to defend his government’s plans.

He said the government had taken the “hard but necessary decision” in order to “secure the future of our cruise tourism sector.”

He said the development of cruise piers had been part of almost every political party’s platform for more than a decade and the people had “ample opportunity” – including during last year’s election – to have their say on the question.

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“The vast majority of the members of this government campaigned on building a cruise and enhanced cargo port – as did the majority of the members in the last administration,” he said.

“Indeed, in every election over the last 12 or more years, the governments that were formed had a viable cruise dock as part of their election platforms.”

The premier added that his government believed it was in the “vital national interest” of the Cayman Islands to proceed with the project and suggested that the result of the last election showed the majority of voters agreed.

“By allowing larger cruise ships the ability to dock, we are ensuring that we maintain this critical industry into the future – of this I am sure,” he said.

He acknowledged there was a “trade off” in terms of the environment, but said government had worked to reduce the impact of the piers. He also suggested that allowing cruise ships to drop anchor, as they do now, had its own environmental impacts, including “decades of massive anchor damage sustained by the reefs in George Town harbor, often caused by cruise ships.”

He said negotiations were ongoing over the project and insisted it would not represent a “disproportionate risk to government finances.”

He added, “Because of the commercially sensitive nature of the discussions, we cannot provide the kind of running commentary on progress that some have called for, but as the deputy premier has repeatedly promised, as soon as we are able to communicate those details, we will do so.”

He went on to insist that the project had been carried out in a transparent manner with numerous reports published and public meetings held.

An opposition motion calling for a referendum on the dock is expected to be debated Thursday as the Legislative Assembly session on the Brac continues.

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  1. The problem that our Premier has not addressed is what this increased number of cruise boat people will do when they get here?

    Stingray City is already overcrowded. Now that the Royal Palms, Tiki Beach and Calico Jacks have closed down there is simply nowhere on 7 mile beach for them to go. With the sole exception of the public beach next to the Kimpton hotel. But shouldn’t this beach be for the local public to enjoy rather than cruise boat people?

  2. One of the plans is to use public beach. Another plan is to use Barkers Beach. Calico Jack will be moving to that new location. Plus we have all the new beach accesses, but no rest rooms or ammenities. The local people are working 8-5 so shouldn’t interfere with us. But that has never stopped me before.
    But this is an opportunity to go East and start some new tourist attractions like Crystal caves.
    I want people to understand, infomation is on youtube:
    One talks about Tim Austin showing George Town reefs are dying, and the other shows International Pier in Cozumel, Mexico. International pier is used by Oasis class ships. When ships are not in port people do offshore diving. Just look at the win-win in fish and coral. If you look closely you can see the sargeant majors have baby eggs on the pillars of the Pier.