Record-Breaking Increase in Tourism Leads to Controversy Over Airport and Cruise Progress

2018 was a record-breaking year for tourism in the Cayman Islands.

As the government takes action to allow for an even greater increase in visitors, concerns are being raised about pending plans for a cruise ship facility in George Town harbor and ongoing delays in airport renovations.

Article Snapshot:

  • 2018 was a record-breaking year for tourism in the Cayman Islands.
  • The government’s plans for the George Town harbor cruise ship facility have sparked outrage and debate among citizens and residents alike.
  • Campaigners against the facility have been amassing signatures in an attempt to trigger a referendum.
  • If they succeed, a public vote will be held. If they fail, the government will grant a contract for the project and work will begin.
  • Originally set to launch in December 2018, final airport renovations have been delayed until February 2019.
  • Pitched at $55 million, the final bill for the project remains unconfirmed.
  • Politicians have raised concerns about overspending as it seems likely that the final cost for the airport will be be $10 million over the initial projection.

George Town Cruise Ship Facility

The government claims that the new cruise ship facility will bring a large amount of business to the community with very little negative impact on the island itself. Campaigners against the project, however, argue that environmental damage (and damage done to the already threatened coral reef) will inevitably be one of the leading problems with the proposed facility.

Campaigners have tirelessly been amassing a list of signatures against the facility in an attempt to trigger a referendum. If they reach the necessary amount of signatures, a public vote will take place. In preparation for this possibility, both sides have displayed an eager attempt to sway public opinion via radio, print and word of mouth.

Should the campaigners fail, the government will grant a contract for the project and begin work. Carnival and Royal Caribbean have already offered to provide funding assistance for the project. The government hopes to obtain other companies willing to assist with design and building aspects.

Delays in Airport Renovations Continue

 Originally set to launch in December 2018, final airport renovations have once again been delayed to February 2019. Although the majority of renovations to prevent overcrowding and congestion have been completed, terminal features such as shops and bars are still underway. Future high season travelers should be able to filter through the airport with ease, as its capacity will almost triple with the expansion of the airport.

Pitched at $55 million, the final bill for the project remains unconfirmed. Oppositional parties argue that unforeseeable needs for an increase in budget may cause the cost to raise to $10 million beyond the initial projection.

Looking Forward to 2019

As we move into 2019 there are many speculations regarding the ever-changing face of tourism in the Cayman Islands. With a focus on maintaining the environment, tradition and culture of Cayman, one can only hope that we will be able to welcome visitors with open arms. Only time will tell.