Dozens of concerned citizens filled the South Sound Community Centre on Sunday for a discussion on visualizing the future of Grand Cayman in 2020.
The event, organized by members of the Cruise Port Referendum campaign, brought people together for an update on where the referendum stands and the future of Cayman’s shoreline.
Johann Moxam and Michelle Lockwood issued a welcome to the assembled community members, and Theresa Leacock-Broderick, president of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, read out a statement that indicated CITA is taking “a position of neutrality” in reference to the cruise port referendum.
Christine Rose-Smyth, the former head of the National Conservation Council, gave a presentation on environmental impact assessments and the National Conservation Law. Later, the group broke into discussion panels and allowed the assembled community members to ask questions.
Polly Pickering of eShore, Paul Rivers and CPR members Mario Rankin and Katrina Jurn spoke about sustainable tourism in Cayman, and another group discussion centered on coastal heritage. Finally, Michael Myles of Hope Academy and Mr. Moxam spoke about social and community well-being.
Mr. Rankin said that the cruise port petition has received signatures somewhere in the “high 4,000s” of the 5,280 needed to trigger a referendum. Mr. Rankin emphasized the need to protect local businesses and the local shoreline, and he said the tourism industry should be focused on stay-over visitors, who make up about 20 percent of tourists in Cayman and 80 percent of tourism revenue.
“It’s really unfortunate we have emphasized building a port where we don’t need a port,” Mr. Rankin said. “We can talk about all the statistics and all the benefits and all the dollars derived from tourism, but if the very thing that attracts tourism is jeopardized, then none of that is relevant.”