Tourism is a huge global business. Hundreds of millions of people across the world depend on it for their livelihoods and nowhere in the world is as dependent on tourism as the Caribbean.
For many of our neighbors, travel and tourism is their largest industry. So, it is no wonder that many other Caribbean nations, against which we compete for visitors, are investing heavily to protect an industry that is the lifeblood of their economies and communities.
In fact, recently the Prime Minister of the Bahamas unveiled plans for a new ‘mega’ port facility in East Grand Bahama, to be financed by Carnival, the world’s largest cruise company.
The fruits of investment are already being seen elsewhere, with Antigua and Barbuda enjoying record cruise numbers following as a result of the ongoing port upgrade which, when completed, will include pier facilities designed to accommodate the new mega ships that have come into operation and which represent the future of the industry.
So how does the Cayman Islands compare? We are also hugely reliant on visitors to these islands, with tourism contributing $652 million to our GDP in 2017, around a quarter of our entire economy. Around $200 million of this is spent by cruise passengers.
This also makes tourism a huge employer. Over 8,400 people are directly employed in tourism industries, 4,500 of whom are dependent on cruise passengers for employment.
Tourism is therefore one of the two main pillars supporting our economy. If we are to secure the future of the cruise industry we must invest and keep pace with the competition.
Protecting jobs and building the economy is the mission of this Government and it is why we are so committed to the construction of an expanded port facility in George Town.
Not only is our port almost forty years old now, but it is also one of the few major cruise ship destinations that does not offer berthing facilities.
The cruise industry is also changing. Large ships are already passing the Cayman Islands by because of our lack of adequate facilities, and if we do not build the piers, there is a serious risk that we will lose a large percentage of our cruise tourism industry as more and more mega ships come into operation and sail past to other destinations that do offer a better guest experience through more modern facilities. In short, our lack of infrastructure is a major risk to a key sector of our economy.
Our plans for the port will protect the Cayman Islands as a destination for cruise ships long into the future providing us with the economic security that we need. But there is much at stake, so we are asking you all to support these islands, SupPORT our TOURISM and SupPORT the Port.
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