The ongoing debate regarding the cruise berthing piers/cargo port facility has, in my humble opinion, focussed too much on SHORT-TERM implications.
I do pray that our younger generation will look past some of the controversy surrounding this project, and think more about what it means for their future.
I support the proposed development of this project, because I believe it is necessary for the long-term survival of our tourism product, and our economy as a whole.
If we listen carefully to the experts who work at our port, it is very clear that our existing cargo port is woefully inadequate for the Cayman Islands of today. We must bear in mind that the existing facility was built in the 1970s, when our islands’ population was a mere 12,000 people … at a time when we were importing around 25,000 tons of cargo, annually. Today, our population has increased fivefold, to over 60,000, with imports having increased by more than 20 times, to over 550,000 tons, annually! In other words, the existing cargo port has reached a stage whereby it can no longer serve our needs, even in the medium term.
The Caribbean region accounts for around 50% of the global cruise industry, and our beautiful Cayman Islands remains one of the most sought-after destinations. As our cruise tourism sector continues to grow, we need to accommodate that growth by development of an expanded and more efficient cruise-berthing facility.
We are about to secure a new first-class port, and at no net cost to the public; and with mitigation measures to be put in place, so as to minimise the impact on our natural environment. All of this, while we provide the necessary infrastructure, accommodate the necessary importation of goods, and facilitate a growing tourism industry.
If this is not considered well-meaning, long-term planning, then I don’t know what is!
I pray that for the long-term benefit of our islands, and especially for the future of our children, we can ignore much of the ‘politics’ surrounding this debate and stand in support of developing our much-needed cruise berthing piers and cargo dock facilities, to be located in George Town, our islands’ capitol.