In the debate over the proposed cruise berthing and enhanced cargo facility we quite often see an argument that Cayman should focus on stayover more than cruise tourism.
Right now the Cayman Islands government has already made that decision very clear and they have already committed much more heavily to stayover tourism. Let’s look at the numbers as they currently are and as they are proposed for the future.
Current spend by the Department of Tourism advertising to the cruise industry: $0.
Current incentives paid to the cruise line to attract them to our islands: $0.
Current proposed cost of building a cruise berthing and enhanced cargo facility: $250 million.
Current spend by the Department of Tourism advertising to attract stayover guests: $23 million per year.
Current subsidy to Cayman Airways: $22.5 million per year (a large portion of which funds tourism-related routes).
Current spend on Owen Roberts International Airport expansion: $65 million.
Looking forward, at the next 25 years we see a proposed facility of $250 million, a cruise industry that covers the advertising costs and receives no incentives to bring tourists to our islands. Our government has already completed a $65 million expansion to our airport, has committed $575 million towards advertising to stayover tourists and $562 million towards funding Cayman Airways.
Over the next 25 years, our government has already made the choice and shown us that stayover tourism is our priority. Over the next 25 years there will be at least a staggering $1.2 billion dedicated to stayover tourism and are proposing $250 million in costs to build a cruise berthing and enhanced cargo facility. This $1.2 billion does not include the ongoing efforts and investments made into programmes such as the hospitality school, PRIDE, small business workshops and agreements with Airbnb.
Seeing as stayover tourism accounts for 80% of the tourist spend on our island and receives over 80% of the government tourism investment, our unity government appears to have the priorities set in a very balanced way.