Questions from Public Meeting: Prospect and Red Bay Mary Miller Hall – Tuesday 12 November 2019

ENVIRONMENT

While the rest of the world is focused on the critical importance of protecting remaining coral reefs the proposed project calls for dredging over 20 acres of George Town Harbour by directly removing and largely destroying over 10 acres of coral and indirectly destroying world famous dive sites like Eden rock. How does the C.I. Government intend to manage the potentially negative impact to our reputation?

The project footprint is 30 acres. Within that footprint 5 acres is classified as coral and 5 acres is classified as hard compressed bottom with coral here and there. It is not 30 acres of coral being damaged. The five acres of coral is what is being relocated to another site.

The Cruise Berthing Facility and Cargo Port Redevelopment Project will actually affect less than 1% of our coral reef habitats. While even less than 1% is regrettable, everything possible is being done to mitigate and minimise the impact to our environment.

In addition to relocating coral impacted by the project, Verdant Isle plans to significantly increase the overall cover and diversity of corals around Grand Cayman through a long-term partnership with Dr. David Vaughan and the Plant a Million Corals Foundation. Dr. Vaughan is a world-renowned coral reef scientist and one of the pioneers of a coral reef restoration technique called micro-fragmentation.
His research and knowledge is being brought to Grand Cayman to supplement the coral relocation initiative.

The cruise berthing project will not destroy Eden Rock, in fact it will not have any direct impact on that site. The South pier has been moved an additional 350ft north and is now 660 ft away from Eden Rock which is the distance of more than two football fields away.

How will the boulders used as the foundation for Coral remains stationary in bad weather?

Natural limestone boulders sourced from Cayman quarries will be secured on the sea bottom to provide a suitable foundation, or substrate, to attach relocated corals to. Engineering analyses will be undertaken to define the requirement for attaching to stabilize the boulders to resist storm waves and currents. Depending on the seabed conditions, a variety of methods may be utilized to secure the boulders, including epoxy and grouted bars.

Under water visibility in the harbour averages 100’+. How will ships in shallow water affect visibility at harbour dive sites such as Eden Rock, Cali and Soto’s Reef?

Noting concerns from the public after the initial design as part of the EIA in 2015, the design of the cruise berthing and cargo port facility has been modified to reduce the dredge area and volume, which will have a significantly less effect on the surrounding area than originally proposed.

The strong water flows generated by cruise ship props and thrusters during arrival and departure maneuvers may cause sediment resuspension and turbidity plumes. Numerical modeling of this complex process was completed as part of the 2015 EIA study. The model results indicate that the extent/severity of this turbidity primarily depends on the presence of fines on the seabed. Given the exposed nature of the project site, the existing seabed materials do not include significant fines.

Based on practical experience at similar sites, it seems unlikely that turbidity plumes will be a significant problem with this project. In particular, three sites where sediment resuspension by cruise ships is known to be a problem (Key West, Bermuda and Venice) are all characterized by long dredged channels across shallow, sheltered areas comprised of fine sediments; these conditions do not exist in George Town Harbour.

That being said, dredging of calcareous rock present in George Town Harbour may leave behind some fines on the seabed; however, these fines will be rapidly dispersed by waves, currents and the early operation of the facility. As such, no significant long-term impacts on underwater visibility are expected.

Best-in-class silt management techniques will also be deployed during dredge operations that will keep loose sediments from drifting and moving and to ensure minimal impacts to the surrounding marine environments. These include mechanical dredging and real time monitoring buoys that conduct readings every 15 minutes and relays that information to the dredge and other entities. These monitors will be set with ranges turbidity limits. If at any time during the dredging or construction of the project these monitors detect turbidity exceeding the limits of maximum turbidity; then the dredging / construction will slow down, stop and or move depending on the situation.

It is also important to note that the piers have been designed as open structures and therefore do not interfere with sediment transport in any direction, their design allows for the free flow of water, sand and marine life.

In 2015 you said you can re-dredge to minimise thruster silt. Is that still the plan? Who will pay for it? Please describe that plan.

Re-dredging of fines after the primary dredging is completed is not currently included in the project cost. Sediment resuspension by cruise ship traffic is not expected to be a long-term problem. Sites where sediment resuspension by cruise ships is known to be a problem (Key West, Bermuda and Venice), these are all characterized by long dredged channels across shallow, sheltered areas comprised of fine sediments; these conditions do not exist in George Town Harbour.

Regardless, the Port Operations Plan will include various measures to minimize this risk, including a preference for bow-in berthing (which puts the main props in deeper water), a wind speed operational limit (high wind speeds require greater power application during berthing and de-berthing) and limiting vessel approach speeds and power application to the minimum necessary for safe vessel handling.

In 2015 we were told that using all known mitigation we could expect near total coral death outside the pit two at least 200m. How will you save those areas from silt death?

The EIA study indicated that dredging and land reclamation works could cause lethal and sub-lethal turbidity and sedimentation levels that extend up to 200m beyond the project footprint. This was based on review and analyses of numerical model results for both hydraulic and mechanical dredging operations, with different assumptions for the level of sediment generated by the different dredging operations. The 200m distance represents an upper bound estimate derived from the EIA model results.

The Verdant Isle Port Partners design has reduced the requirement for dredging, and has also eliminated the requirement for offshore disposal. In addition, Verdant Isle Port Partners will use a mechanical dredge, real-time monitoring of turbidity levels and adaptive management of the dredge to minimize adverse impacts on the marine environment. This approach is generally consistent the lowest impact scenario considered in the EIA, whereas the 200m distance was based on the highest impact scenario.

Assuming the project proceeds, updated modeling of turbidity and sedimentation due to dredging and cruise ship props and thrusters will be undertaken to define the anticipated impact zone around the project based on the proposed dredging method. This information will be used to finalize the coral relocation and dredge management plans. Corals that are located within the project footprint or within the estimated high impact zone around the project footprint (where high levels of turbidity and sedimentation may have lethal effects on coral) will be relocated. Subsequently, real-time monitoring and adaptive management techniques will be used during dredging to maintain turbidity and sedimentation levels below pre-determined thresholds. These thresholds will be defined based on a review of practical experience from similar projects around the world and consultation with the DOE. This approach will minimize the risk of adverse impacts on corals around the project.

In 2015 and a gain recently you said you would move the Balboa. Has the new site been chosen and what will it cost?

The Balboa will be moved to a recipient site approximately 1 kilometer to the north. The cost of performing a detailed underwater archeological survey and the relocation cost of moving the Balboa is included in the cost of the project.

JOBS

I am experiencing issues in getting a job due to my various health issues along with being a part time taxi operator who is only able to operate in the night. How would this be beneficial to me if this is my sole source of income?

If your preference is to work at night, options are available to taxi drivers to work the night shift between the hours of 4pm to 6am. If you would like to find out more about receiving a permit from the Public Transport Board for night time operations, please send an email to Cayman.transport@gov.ky and a member of the PTU will guide you through the process.

What will the government do to encourage fair hiring and pay for Caymanians in the tour industry (e.g. guides) and less a work permits and cheap labor?

The recruitment process for all jobs will be overseen by Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman (WORC) to ensure that jobs go first to Caymanians who have the requisite skills.

CONSTRUCTION

Will government be hiring engineers to oversee the project?

CI Government will not be hiring for this project. All of the jobs will be advertised on Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman (WORC) but will be with the Verdant Isle consortium.

When the sea is rough will the ships be able to stop or will they have to cancel?

The cruise berthing facility will reduce the number of calls that are lost due to bad weather as ships can dock in weather that would be unsafe for tenders.

During the referendum debate one of the members had concerns that the piers will be too close together for ships to turn around. Please clarify.

It is not necessary to turn the ships around in between the piers. The pier spacing and width of the berth pockets is sufficient to allow the largest cruise ships to berth, either bow-in or stern-in; if necessary, the ships would turn around offshore, prior to berthing or after deberthing.

Of note, detailed navigation simulations were undertaken for the 2015 EIA layout to confirm that the prior design allowed for the safe arrival and departure of the full range in cruise ships expected to use the facility. Assuming the project proceeds, additional navigation simulations will be undertaken to support the final design of the project.

GT REVITALISATION

Has any consideration being given to aspects of the revitalization of George Town in the building and management of the cruise and port facilities?

The development of the cruise berthing facility and the upgrading of our cargo port are integral elements of the George Town Revitalisation Initiative. Please refer to page 30 of the booklet for additional information on the redevelopment plans.

CRUISE INDUSTRY

Will there be overnight ships?

There are no plans for ships to overnight in Cayman at the present time.

VERDANT ISLE

Will there be a contract in place between CIG and the cruise lines that will prohibit them from strong arming Cayman by pulling ships in the same way that Carnival did to Grenada in the past?

When the cruise berthing facility is operational, a schedule will be in place that outlines which ships are due to call on each day. This is typically provided to the Port Authority 18 months in advance. If a ship is not able to call on the day it is allocated, the Port Authority can offer that slot to another cruise line.

We are not aware of the ‘strong arming’ that is being referred to and are therefore unable to provide a response to that comment.

PASSENGER SPEND

Ships do their utmost to sail with no empty rooms often discounting to fill capacity. How does this result in more affluent passengers? They must spend more on board but in port how much more?

The highest rates that Royal Caribbean charges are for the Oasis class ships. Based on data that Royal Caribbean collects from its customers, the per capita income of passengers who travel on the Oasis ships is 20% higher than is typical on the rest of their fleet. Additionally these ships book up very quickly so there is very little need for Royal to offer discounted cabin on the Oasis ships.

GENERAL

Why aren’t the youth more involved in the port campaign, like the Youth Assembly and the CARICOM Youth Ambassadors?

The public education campaign being carried out by the Cayman Islands Government is geared at providing information on the CBF project to all sectors of our society, including our youth.
The Youth Assembly and the CARICOM Youth Ambassadors Programme were developed to increase awareness among youth about national, regional and international policies and programmes. We trust that the information on this website along with the other information that has been published or discussed via local media channels is not only raising awareness among young people about this issue, but is also answering questions they may have.

Questions from Public Meeting: Family Life Centre George Town East/South/West – Thursday 14 November 2019

ENVIRONMENT

Are you comfortable destroying the reefs?

We are not destroying them we are restoring them and relocating them to a new location. A massive amount of damage has occurred in the GT Harbour over the last four or five decades as ships have dropped and dragged anchors over the years. Once the piers are done we will cease to have the same assault on the seabed in GT Harbour.

Have you considered how the air quality will be affected?

Yes. Air quality was looked at as part of the environmental statement that was prepared in 2015 for the original design. That looked at the air quality and the efficiency of the vessels. Efficiency is always increasing which means there will also be a corresponding positive impact to air quality. In addition, air quality will also be looked at in the scoping study that is being undertaken at the moment by Verdant Isle.

What precautions have been taken to make the port and berthing facility hurricane resistant and climate change ready?

The piers are wind and water rated to the level of a category 5 hurricane. By way of comparison, the piers constructed in the Bahamas by Royal Caribbean withstood the onslaught of Hurricane Dorian and did not require any repair.

In terms of climate change, sea level rise is being incorporated into the designs. One of the concerns with sea level rise is water impact and flooding in the downtown GT area. The new piers will be approximately 3ft taller than the existing ones taking them to a height of 10.5ft and on top of that a wave wall is being added and storm water drainage is also being incorporated into the design which will increase the level of protection for George Town.

Historically in several areas that were dredged they have had to resort to using dynamite. Has this been considered in the dredging plans and without the geotechnical studies, how has the best dredging plan been arrived at?

Using dynamite or blasting as it is referred to, is not being considered on this project. The options that were looked at were hydraulic and mechanical dredging, but because of the sensitive nature of the project being close to coral and the relatively small landmass that the project encompasses (compared to cruise terminals typically) the mechanical approach was selected as the best option. Hydraulic dredging uses a lot of water to pull the material up from the seabed and place it either on land or back in the ocean.

One important point to note is that there will be no offshore disposal of the dredge material. There is no onshore disposal. That is very important fact to note as some of the images being circulated show a lot of turbidity and plume resonated from that but the actual fact is we are not doing any offshore disposal.

There has been a lot of discussion around in relation to currents, particularly in relation to seven mile beach. What is continually ignored is the fact that the currents frequently run towards Eden Rock and Devils Grotto from the direction of the port. Eden Rock and Devils Grotto are likely to be destroyed by sediment. These are the treasures people come here for. Why is government comfortable trading something so irreplaceable?

Scott Hicks, Coastal Engineer, Schneider Engineering: a yes vote does not mean that the dredge shows up and we start ripping up coral and we start work right away on December 20th.
What it does is it allows a process that started in 2013 with the Terms of reference for the EIA and then in the 2015 EIA that was actually presented to the DoE and the EAB that was all part of a process and there were comments and concerns from the EAB about the environmental impact. The current version that we have now is an evolution of the former design that minimizes impacts.
There is a lot more analysis, evaluation and verification that needs to be done to confirm that we are not going to cause undue environmental impact and what we do cause has to be mitigated and we have to create solutions that do not adversely impact the environment. That goal is the same for the dredging and any areas around it including Eden Rock. When we’re dredging we will be physically dredging in the water with an excavator and bringing the material up and putting it on a barge that has sealed sides. The barge will be transported to shore and will be offloaded so that the material can be used within the new port area. That will create sediment and we need to do a lot of analysis and modelling updated by our current design to really understand what those impacts are and how they can best be mitigated.

With respect to Eden Rock and the surrounding coral we will have real-time monitoring of water clarity during construction. Importantly, because it is real time, it will be monitored by the regulatory authorities including the DoE and the EAB and limits will be established for the turbidity monitoring that are based on peer reviewed scientific literature and coordinated with DoE turbidity and sedimentation levels that the corals can withstand and remain healthy so with those limits within a certain area in real time, every 15 minutes, data will be recorded and reported that will show what is happening with the turbidity. If the agreed turbidity level is exceeded that will kick us into some mitigation measures for the dredging. That could mean we relocate the dredge to a different area so that we are no longer creating excessive turbidity; it could mean slowing down the dredge or it could mean we stop dredging. If that’s what needs to happen it will happen.

What is the ongoing involvement of the Department of the Environment in this project?

We have been speaking with the DoE throughout the development of some of the draft documents and they will be involved fully in the review of the scoping study that is being undertaken at the moment.

Why are our local coral experts not being hired or trained in this project? Why are there no jobs for Caymanians in coral restoration and science?

There will be. Coral relocation has always been included in the plans for this project. However coral restoration is a recent addition that has been included and will be undertaken under the auspices of Dr. David Vaughan of the Plant a Million Corals Foundation. This project will not only provide jobs but also an element of education for students and the public as well. For more information on this topic please refer to pages 20 through 27 of the CBF booklet.

For coral relocation how large pieces can be moved?

The coral relocation plan includes moving small pieces of coral and can go up to pieces of approximately 3 tons in size.

Please explain how the marine species other than coral which form the complex ecosystems such as lobster, eels, shrimp and others will be relocated to the donor site from the marine park area.

When the large pieces such as those that are 2 and 3 tons in size are moved, we will be moving the habitat and supporting species that comes with it. So for example, some of the algal species and sponges will also be moved as well. Once the corals start to become established they will attract many species of fish and invertebrates to the donor area.

We know the back reef is dead from cruise anchors. Why were permanent moorings not put in and could they be put in now? It does not make sense to destroy income generating inner reefs which reduce flooding risk in George Town and with no guarantee on reef survival.

Verdant Isle will be working with PACI going forward the plan being to have idea ships working off of dynamic positioning. If permanent mooring facilities were put in we would still have the issue of not being able to unload larger cruise ships other than by tender. And we know that this is not an option that cruise lines will consider. So, using Dr. Vaughan’s technology, once we remove 2 of the 4 anchoring facilities that currently exist, the plan is to regenerate those areas and help them to become restored back to life.

What about the ships dumping their sewerage in our sea and have you considered noravirus?

Cruise ships have advanced disposal systems on board and international regulations are followed with respect to where grey water can be released. Wastewater in cruise ships goes through a process that is very similar to the processed on land. The water purification system is of a high quality and recycling rate is extremely high. Methods used on board the Royal Caribbean ships in most cases are more advanced than those used on land.

With respect to the Noravirus – while that is something that is seen on cruise ships, it doesn’t happen very often. Royal has not experienced any outbreaks of the virus this calendar for example but procedures and protocols are in place should it occur. This includes notifying the destinations typically the destination will have a health office board the ship and speak with the medial doctors on board. They will look at how many people are affected, look at the case files and will conduct an analysis before determining if passengers can disembark. Even so, the final decision is left up to the Health Ministry in each of the destinations to determine whether passengers from that ship will be permitted to disembark or not.

There have been studies in Europe showing cruise ships having negative effects on citizens’ health due to the ships engine emissions. What is being done to counter this especially when there will be four ships docked so close to land.

Our trade winds come out of the north east and it pushes all of the emissions away from shore.

Thrusters and stabilizers kick up sand, mud and sediment as can be seen from photos and videos of many ports with concrete piers and cruise berths. If it could be prevented or mitigated, why are the likes of Roatan and Jamaica putting up with milky, cloudy water? Is that what we have to look forward to?

In our case here in Cayman we do not have a lot of silt in our project site. What we have is 92% sand and 8% silt. This is an important differentiation because it is the silt that creates the milky cloudy water. Even so, this is something that was looked at in the 2015 EIA. There is still more work to be done to assess the potential impacts if the project moves ahead beyond the referendum. If there are adverse impacts due to thrusters kicking up sand we will be taking mitigating actions, such as putting down mattresses to stabilize that material. If we need to change the operations slightly to reduce the velocity of water that hits the sand, that will be done too. This project has gone through an evolutionary process from the EIA, to the initial design, to the new design etc. There are still some steps to be taken in the evolutionary process to refine that and we are in this process with the Department of Environment and the EAB to make sure that we have a project that is acceptable and sustainable from an environmental perspective.

Dr. Vaughan: What is the difference between relocating a coral segment versus an entire ecosystem? Have you ever honestly relocated an entire ecosystem before?

Dr. Vaughan response: I am not in the business of relocating coral. That is done by the other consortium partners and experts working on this project. They have experience moving full, large, multi-ton pieces of spurs and coral heads with the organisms that are in there and putting them in place to a reasonable replication of what was there before but in another location. In Cancun, we actually restored (by planting individual corals) in that location for 3 different years. That attracted new soft corals, gorgonians, and a lot of other organisms that became in as little as five and eight years, looking like a mature ecosystem. So if the corals are there, the rest will come.

In other islands, watersports and diving still occur near berthing piers. Do you feel that the hype that all neighboring corals will die is over-exaggerated?

Dr. Vaughan Response: I can understand people having a fear of everything being killed and lost for hundreds of yards around, everything being gone. That is just not the case. No-one wants to see that, no-one wants to cause that, that’s why all kinds of mitigating actions have taken place, such as moving the piers further away from Eden Rock to have as little impact as possible. In addition, this project will stop what was taking place in the many acres where anchoring takes place. Everything has an impact and this has the least impact and that’s why I concur with the people that are doing the right things and are asking themselves constantly; how do we minimise environmental impacts, how do we make things better? And that’s what this team is doing.

Please explain how the coral recipient sites were determined?

A dive survey was undertaken of a number of sites to make sure they were similar to the donar sites as it is very important when moving coral to make sure they are moved to site that offers similar depth, similar water quality and that there is no issues in that area with excessive sedimentation and the like. The Dive surveys looked at the coral cover in the potential recipient sites to see if there was carrying capacity and capacity for habitat augmentation and also to make sure they were situated close enough to move the corals to them safely. Initially a long list of sites were looked at and was narrowed down to 12 sites. Divers checked each of the 12 sites to see if there were any issues that would impact relocation and to make sure they were suitable.

Who will be most qualified to sit on the environmental oversight council as stated by Verdant. When will this council be implemented and what will their goals be?

The oversight committee was initiated during a conversation with Orion and Michael Bayley of Royal Caribbean. A shortlist of names has not been compiled as yet but as soon as that is done it will be publicized. The council will include independent environmentalists and scientists that are not associated to the project or connected to any of the consortium companies.

Has Polaris performed any relocation in any sites in Cayman on healthy ecosystems?

Polaris recently completed two large coral re-attachment projects in Grand Cayman, one in West Bay and the other at Eden Rock. In both cases, shipping incidents dislodged and fractured large sections of the limestone reef and damaged thousands of corals. Polaris restored both sites in 2016 and 2017. There were approximately 3,000 corals involved in these projects and many large pieces of broken reef. Coral fragments that are disturbed/broken by vessel groundings and dragging anchors and then re-attached would be expected to have a lower survival rate than those carefully removed as part of a pre-planned coral relocation project. Regardless, a monitoring study of Polaris’s West Bay coral re-attachment project reported 89% survival of tagged specimens two years after the restoration effort as compared to 93% survival for unaffected coral colonies.

Additional detail is provided in the following technical paper:
Precht, W. Challenger G., Warrender T., Rogers K., Hudson H., McCoy, C., Chin P. and T. Austin. 2018 Cooperative Natural Resource Damage Assessment Leads to Successful Restoration of Injured Coral Resources. 71st annual conference of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, San Andres, Colombia | 5–9 November 2018.

Coral colonies that survive for a year or more in good condition following reattachment are likely to mimic natural survival patterns of unaffected corals in future years. The same coral species in the same vicinity relocated by the same teams provides the best evidence of likelihood of success for this project.

What has been the survival rate in previous attempts to move coral?

Many projects throughout the world have included the successful transplantation/relocation of corals (Young et al. 2012) and this is considered as a good option (mitigation measure) for dredging projects, as well as restoration efforts after ship groundings. The success of relocation is largely dependent upon site selection, with success dependent upon the selection of a recipient site characterized by similar conditions as the donor site. In particular, high water quality, low nutrient input and low sedimentation and wave energy are critical factors (Young et al. 2012, Lirman and Schopmeyer 2016).

In 2018, as a part of the National Environmental Science Program in Australia, a team of scientists reviewed 329 case studies for coral restoration, including 94 cases of direct coral relocation projects (Bostrom-Einarsson et al., 2018, Coral restoration in a changing world – A global synthesis of methods and techniques
The study found that overall, coral relocation via direct transport provided an average survival rate of 64%, with 20% of cases reporting over 90% survival of corals.

Verdant Isle Port Partners has brought together a team of renowned coral relocation and restoration experts, including Polaris Applied Sciences, Sea Ventures Marine Response Unit, ReefTech Inc, and Plant a Million Corals.

These organizations have been partners on large coral restoration projects since 2005 and have successfully managed more than 70 coral assessment and reef restoration projects throughout the Caribbean and beyond, including projects in Mexico, Florida, British Virgin Islands, Southeast Florida, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Grand Cayman and Hawaii. Selected coral relocation projects include the following:

WHEN WHERE SURVIVAL
2006/10 Hawaii Better than reference
2011 Puerto Rico Similar to reference, 2+ years
2012 Puerto Rico Similar to reference, 3 years
2015 Qatar 87% after 2 years
2016/17 Grand Cayman 89%, similar to reference, 2 years
2018 Mexico Ongoing monitoring
2018 Puerto Rico Ongoing monitoring

Compared to other projects do you find that this project has more or less dredging?

Given the relatively deep water in George Town Harbour, the dredging required for the proposed project is relatively small compared to similar projects in the region. Of note, the Cayman Islands Government previously considered a number of alternative sites around Grand Cayman for a cruise berthing project. As summarized in the EIA, the dredging required at these alternative sites was significantly greater than that required in George Town Harbour.

Please explain how the coral recipient sites were determined. They do not appear to be as protected from currants and storms as the uniquely protected location they evolved in naturally.

Many projects throughout the world have included the successful transplantation/relocation of corals (Young et al. 2012) and this is considered as a good option (mitigation measure) for dredging projects, as well as restoration efforts after ship groundings. The success of relocation is largely dependent upon site selection, with success dependent upon the selection of a recipient site characterized by similar conditions as the donor site. In particular, high water quality, low nutrient input and low sedimentation and wave energy are critical factors (Young et al. 2012, Lirman and Schopmeyer 2016).

The recipient sites in Grand Cayman have been selected based on the similar characteristics they share with the donor (project) site; these similarities give the coral relocation effort the highest chance of success.

In addition to relocating corals that would otherwise by destroyed by the project, Verdant Isle Port Partners plans to implement a coral rescue triage nursery and long-term coral outplanting program. These efforts will utilize the micro-fragmenting technique developed by Dr David Vaughan of Plant a Million Corals. Over the 25 year life of Verdant’s DBFM contract agreement, these efforts are expected to significantly increase the overall cover and diversity of corals around Grand Cayman, with thus achieving the overall environmental objective of no net loss of biodiversity.

Why not build this facility at the Spotts Dock which would cause a lot less environmental impact?

The Government has considered many possible scenarios and is satisfied that George Town is the best option for the environment. George Town is already a working harbor and its marine habit is already impacted from cruise and cargo vessels using the area over the past decades. Building the piers elsewhere on the island would require impacting a new environment and the construction of land based infrastructure.

In other islands, watersports and diving still occur near the berthing piers. Do you feel the hype that all neighbouring corals will die is over-exaggerated?

Noting concerns from the public regarding the design assessed in the 2015 EIA, the project design has been modified to reduce the dredge area and volume. In addition, a mechanical dredging approach will be used, and there will be no offshore disposal of dredged material (all dredged material will be placed in the land reclamation area). These changes will result in significantly less impact on the surrounding area than estimated in the 2015 EIA study.
Also, whereas the 2015 EIA design included dredging in close proximity to Eden Rock, the revised design has moved the dredged area approximately 125m to the north; this will significantly reduce the impact of dredging on Eden Rock.

Furthermore, industry best management techniques will used throughout construction, in particular during dredging and land reclamation operations, to minimize the generation of silt plumes and their impacts on the surrounding marine environment. The proposed approach includes mechanical dredging, real-time monitoring of turbidity and adaptive management of the dredge. More specifically, turbidity will be continuously monitored with buoys at multiple locations, with the data transmitted to the dredge to allow adjustments to be made to the dredging operation to keep turbidity levels below pre-defined threshold limits. The threshold limits will be defined through consultation with the DOE. If the threshold limits are exceeded, the dredging will slow down or stop, or the dredge will be moved to another location.

It is also important to note that the piers have been designed as open structures and therefore do not interfere with sediment transport in any direction, their design allows for the free flow of water, sand and marine life.

FUNDING

Will the cruise companies still contribute to the environmental fund?

Yes. The dollar amount paid to the Port Authority and to the Environmental Protection Fund from passenger fees will remain unchanged. The increase in passengers means the Port Authority and the environmental fund will receive more revenue annually.

Will the funding for the piers be paid from head tax only from Royal and Carnival ships or head tax from all ships?

The piers will be funded using a portion of the passenger fee that is collected from every passenger not just those who arrive on Royal or Carnival.

Will there be any business continuity /income loss insurance for damage to the piers after a storm if ships cannot dock and the piers are being repaired?

The piers are insured against damage and would be repaired in the event of damage.

If the cost to build this facility exceeds the estimated cost will Verdant pay that extra amount without government having to contribute?

If the project goes over budget, Verdant Isle will meet those costs. All of the costs to build the cruise berthing and cargo port facility are being met by Verdant Isle. There is no risk to the country’s finances. For more information on this topic please check pages 17 through 19 in the CBF booklet.

Is the true cost $250M or $450M?

The cruise berthing and cargo port project will cost CI$200 million which includes the cost of coral relocation and maintain the facility for 25 years. For more information on this topic please check pages 17 through 19 in the CBF booklet.

Will the cost of maintenance be covered by the cruise lines with no cost to the country?

The cost of maintaining the facility for 25 years will be met by Veran Isle. For more information on this topic please check pages 17 through 19 in the CBF booklet.

If arrivals do not increase what does the contract to provide as the backup plan if we end up with a shortfall of $4million a year (i.e. 200,000 passengers) which could mean we still owe anywhere between 25-100 million in 25 years. This question is not how or why this won’t happen, what is the backup plan?

The people of the Cayman Islands will not owe anything to Verdant Isle if passenger numbers are less than projected. If passenger numbers do not meet the required levels to repay Verdant Isle at the rate required, the 25 year repayment term will be extended. There is no risk to the country’s finances. For more information on this topic please check pages 17 through 19 in the CBF booklet.

Who takes responsibility if the passenger numbers are not enough to pay Verdant Isle back in 25 years?

If passenger numbers were not enough to pay Verdant Isle back for their investment within the allotted 25 year period, then the period of the repayment would be extended. There would be no burden on government.

What if verdant isle gets repaid before the 25 year period has elapsed?

The surplus would be split between the government and Verdant Isle and a provision would be in place in the contract to outline how that split would be effected.

What if the forecasted 600,000 in additional arrivals don’t come to fruition? This could be caused by economic recession, public awareness of negative environmental impact, scheduling of the proposed cap of 23-25K passengers per day, or the fact that we’ve gone and destroyed our own reefs to attract them. The math only works with 600,000. Who covers that shortfall

If passenger numbers were not enough to pay Verdant Isle back for their investment within the allotted 25 year period, then the period of the repayment would be extended. There would be no burden on government.

Please provide the breakdown of the amount per passenger the Cayman Islands government retains now, and with the CBF show how the 12.27 and 9.95 per person is split between the Port Authority, the Environmental Protection Fund and the Cayman Islands Government at a minimum?

Government currently receives a passenger fee of $12.27 per passenger. On 1.9M passengers, that amounts to $23.3M per year. When the cruise berthing facility is built, passenger numbers will rise to 2.5M – that’s an increase of 600K.

Even with a $2.32 reduction in the passenger fee (to $9.95), the increased volume of passengers’ means government will receive more on an annual basis than it currently does now.
2.5M passengers contributing $9.95 each in fees amounts to government receiving $24.8M.

Instead of receiving $23.3M per year without the piers we will receive 24.8M per year when with them. For more information on the breakdown of passenger fees please refer to pages 17 through 19 of the CBF booklet.

CRUISE SHIP ITINERARIES

If the port gets built what other ports will be dropped from itineraries to add us back to the mix.

Over the next decade there are a number of Oasis ships on order and almost every year there will be a new ship. As Royal grows as a company there will be many opportunities to add Grand Cayman into the mix without necessarily having to drop one destination in favour of another. If the cruise terminal does not get built that will be a lost opportunity for Cayman.

What is to stop the cruise lines dropping us from the cruise itinerary?

The cruise lines that are part of the Verdant Isle consortium e putting up $200 million dollars to construct the cruise berthing facility and cargo port. It will be very very difficult for them to walk away from that level of investment when the only way they are going to get repaid is to actually bring passengers here to our shores.

DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION

What happens to cargo and to existing businesses while the dock, harbour front and George Town area are turned into a massive building site? How do we go about our day-to-day business then?

During the design and bidding process all bidders were required to provide a comprehensive phasing plan so that there would be no disruption to the existing cargo or cruise operations. The project has been divided into several phases which allow for the tendering, cargo and cruise operations to continue. The redevelopment of the Owen Roberts Airport was handled using a similar phased approach and the airport operated normally and no flights were cancelled due to the ongoing construction work.

What does the Cayman Islands look like if we don’t build the piers?

In terms of the economy:
All of the information that we have tells us that the status quo will not continue. The choice is either we build the piers and we go along the track that has been talked about or over time the number of cruise visitors will significantly reduce. That is because the cruise companies have told us they will not tender their big ships and as a consequence, the Oasis class ships operating in this region do not stop in Cayman.

When a larger vessel is introduced, the smaller, older vessel it replaces is retired from service or redirected to other destinations. As the smaller ships are increasingly replaced, our islands will continue losing passengers and revenue from the smaller, older ships without benefiting from their replacement. For additional information on this topic please refer to page 8 the CBF booklet.

In terms of jobs and employment opportunities:
There are 4600 jobs which depend on cruise tourism. Unlike stayover tourism which employs high degree of expatriates 90% of the workers engaged in the cruise industry are Caymanian and this is how they earn their living. In the past two decades we have had two cycles when cruise passenger arrivals declined significantly and during those times, the persons working in that industry were screaming for government to do something about it. The reality is this – either Cayman decides that we don’t want the cruise business and we want to develop some other industry to employ that sector of our people OR we do what every other jurisdiction in the region has done and provide modern cruise berthing facilities so that there is a welcoming aspect on entry to these islands for the people who are coming here to enjoy what we have to offer and to help benefit our people and our economy. The status quo is not viable even in the medium term.

Who will be responsible for the insurance of the piers during construction and after?

Verdant Isle will be responsible.

Please explain what the image on the cover page of the booklet is showing. Where is the rock in Hog Sty bay? Where is Elmslie Church and the National Museum? Is this the plan for George Town?

Elmslie Church, the National Museum and all of our other landmarks and historical buildings along Harbour Drive will still be in place and will not be affected by this project. The image on the front cover is just an artist’s rendition. The only things that will change will be improvements to the sidewalks and roads as part of the George Town revitalization project. Other than that everything will be the same.

It is said that the port project will take about two years. The Ritz roundabout this past year took three months! How long did it take to build your last port project? What do you believe will be the biggest challenge to construction once it begins?

Orion has built a number of ports in the Caribbean and in the United States, such as Amber Cove with Carnival cruise lines and Labadee in Haiti. Amber Cove was a single pier and took 18 months to complete. This project is a dual pier with cargo facility and a lot of bulkhead so we plan to have a lot of people working on it at the same time to try to overcome the seasons.

Weather is always a marine contractor’s biggest issue so the biggest challenge that we are likely to have here is the Nor’easter season. It is difficult to work out on the ocean on a barge so we’ve overcome that too by looking at a top down approach so that were working on the deck and not on the barges so that we can work throughout the season.

How does the weather affect berthing versus tendering?

The percentage for successful berthing is much higher with the large ships than it is for tendering. Due to the sophistication of the navigation systems for example, the large ships can almost always be brought in to berth whereas the smaller tenders are affected to a greater degree by adverse weather and consequently have a much higher miss rate.

PASSENGER SPEND

Cruise ships do their utmost to sail at full capacity, often discounting closer to the time of departure in order to fill all cabins. How does this result in a more affluent customer base? What are the concrete stats on port spending and how much more are they spending per passenger than passengers from smaller ships?

The highest rates that Royal Caribbean charges are for the Oasis class ships. Based on data that Royal Caribbean collects from its customers, the per capita income of passengers who travel on the Oasis ships is 20% higher than is typical on the rest of their fleet. Additionally these ships book up very quickly so there is very little need for Royal to offer discounted cabin on the Oasis ships.

CRUISE TERMINAL FACILITY

Who will own, manage the shops on the piers. Can Caymanians bid for them?

The Port Authority will continue to manage and operate the retail space in the cruise terminal area just like it does today. The decision regarding who will occupy the retail outlets rests with the Port Authority but it is important to note that cruise lines will NOT own or operate any of the commercial or retail space in the cruise terminal area.

The commitment is that the same square footage that currently exists at Royal Watler will be rebuilt in a new area, in a more user friendly way to allow for a better flow of passengers through retail pathways.

Will Caymanians still be allowed to use the port facility for event such as concerts?

The port is a secure and highly regulated area much like the airport. The same security protocols that are in place now will still be in place in the future. If no concerts are permitted to be held there now, the same rules will apply in the future.

CAPACITY MANAGEMENT

One of the biggest complaints from stayover passengers is overcrowding. If 2.5M passengers is needed per year to make this project feasible, how do we prevent further negative impact on stayovers, in particular at Seven Mile Beach and Stingray City?

Balancing the seasonality of our tourism product is extremely important to this country. For stayover arrivals we have been successful in flattening the highs and lows of seasonality which encourages more business all year round and provides a steady income for the persons who work in the service and hospitality sectors. Levelling the seasons doesn’t put any more stress on our attractions or infrastructure because it keeps visitation consistently steady and at a manageable level for the majority of the year, rather than for half of the year. Where our businesses suffer is during the summer months when cruise arrivals are typically low. The goal is to increase the number of arrivals during this time. The Port Authority will continue to have responsibility for managing the level of arrivals on a daily basis just as they do now and we intend to put a cap on peak days.

1.8M passengers come here at current levels per year, the majority being November to April seasonally. So to achieve an extra 700K in off season are you saying that an Oasis ship will visit twice a week which is the volume required to achieve the target of 2.5M passengers per year or an additional 116 calls per year.

Oasis class ships belong to Royal Caribbean and these will not stop in Cayman unless we have a berthing facility with piers. But the industry is moving towards larger ships and Carnival has 11 new ships on order through 2023 and 9 of those are the XL class, which is the name that Carnival has given to their particular brand of mega sized ship. Royal presently has Oasis class ships that cannot come here but from 2023 Carnival will have XL ships that also will not come to Cayman if we don’t have piers. 75-80% of the cruise passengers that come to the Cayman Islands arrive here on board a Royal or Carnival ship. When these two cruise lines replace their smaller ships with the larger vessels that will not tender, and they start sailing past our Islands as the Oasis does ow, we will start to see a decline in cruise passengers. MSC and the majority of the other cruise brands are also moving towards larger ships so it is incorrect to think we can depend on those in the future. For additional information on this topic please refer to page 8 the CBF booklet.

CARGO PORT

Will there be any negative or positive effect on the employees of the port authority?

This project will give the cargo port an additional 30,000 sq ft of space which will allow it to carry out its operations more effectively and efficiently. The expansion will also provide a much better working environment for the port Authority employees which will have a positive effect.

If this project does not move forward will the government improve the cargo port and tendering facilities?

This government has just delivered the budget for the 2020/2021 period and there are no provisions in that budget to fund an enhanced the cargo port. The expansion and redevelopment of the cargo port is part of the cruise berthing facility project and will be paid for from passenger fees if the project is given the green light to proceed.

Is the cargo dock now operating efficiently and within capacity?

No it is not. The cargo port can only accommodate approximately another 5% more capacity and judging by the figures so far for this year, that 5% is likely to be exceeded. With more space the cargo port operations could be improved and more machinery could be added to improve operational efficiency. If the cargo area is not expanded we can expect there to be delays in off-loading cargo which will ultimately affect each of our lives on a daily basis. For more information on the cargo port please refer to pages 12 through 14 of the CBF booklet.

WHY BUILD THE PIERS?

With cruise tourism numbers steadily increasing each year why is the pier being built at this time? Future cruise tourism appears to be guaranteed, port or no port.

The future of our cruise tourism industry if not guaranteed without a port. The global cruise industry is increasingly moving towards bigger ships and major cruise lines are investing heavily in these larger vessels. Cruise lines have repeatedly told us that they will not tender these larger ships and as a consequence, the Oasis class ships operating in this region do not stop in Cayman.

When a larger vessel is introduced, the smaller, older vessel it replaces is retired from service or redirected to other destinations. As the smaller ships are increasingly replaced, our islands will continue losing passengers and revenue from the smaller, older ships without benefiting from their replacement. For additional information on this topic please refer to page 8 the CBF booklet.

What does the Cayman Islands look like if we don’t build the piers?

In terms of the economy:
All of the information that we have tells us that the status quo will not continue. The choice is either we build the piers and we go along the track that has been talked about or over time the number of cruise visitors will significantly reduce. That is because the cruise companies have told us they will not tender their big ships and as a consequence, the Oasis class ships operating in this region do not stop in Cayman.

When a larger vessel is introduced, the smaller, older vessel it replaces is retired from service or redirected to other destinations. As the smaller ships are increasingly replaced, our islands will continue losing passengers and revenue from the smaller, older ships without benefiting from their replacement. For additional information on this topic please refer to page 8 the CBF booklet.

In terms of jobs and employment opportunities:
There are 4600 jobs which depend on cruise tourism. Unlike stayover tourism which employs high degree of expatriates 90% of the workers engaged in the cruise industry are Caymanian and this is how they earn their living. In the past two decades we have had two cycles when cruise passenger arrivals declined significantly and during those times, the persons working in that industry were screaming for government to do something about it. The reality is this – either Cayman decides that we don’t want the cruise business and we want to develop some other industry to employ that sector of our people OR we do what every other jurisdiction in the region has done and provide modern cruise berthing facilities so that there is a welcoming aspect on entry to these islands for the people who are coming here to enjoy what we have to offer and to help benefit our people and our economy. The status quo is not viable even in the medium term.

JOBS

How can you guarantee these new jobs for Caymanians? What would you be able to do then that you are unable to do now?

The recruitment process for all jobs will be overseen by Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman (WORC) to ensure that jobs go first to Caymanians who have the requisite skills.

Cayman Islands and pro port groups are claiming that 4500 jobs will be lost if we don’t build the piers. Can you break down what 4500 jobs will be lost if we don’t build the port?

No one is suggesting that the loss of jobs will happen overnight. The ships will not stop calling on Cayman with immediate effect. But what will happen over a relatively short period of time is that fewer cruise passengers will be calling here because the larger ships which the cruise lines are moving towards will not be calling in Cayman because cruise lines are not prepared to tender them. Instead they will call to other destinations that have the appropriate berthing facilities in place to receive them and are able to provide a better experience to their passengers.

In terms of breaking down the jobs, these include tour operators, taxi drivers, restaurants, retailers and persons/businesses who offer a full range of services to cruise passengers.

The job fair was for approximately 200 short term jobs. What are the long term jobs?

The long term jobs will result from growing the industry. As the cruise industry grows it creates opportunities across the entire gamut of the industry so there will be more need for taxi’s tours, tour operators, retailers and the like. But the knocks on effects are also felt throughout the economy as well and are reflected in the purchase of services and products that also support the industry such as gasoline and food. As the industry grows it doesn’t just create jobs, it creates opportunities for businesses to expand and become more prosperous, and for those in the industry to have a better quality of life.

I have been on a few Caribbean cruises but I’ve never seen Caymanians working on them. Do you advertise for employees in Cayman or do you propose to do so?

The cruise industry has one of the most diverse workforces in any industry, made up from people from all over the world. Royal Caribbean has stated that they would like to attract employees from across the Caribbean and from the Cayman Islands and would hire as many people from Cayman as possible if they had an opportunity to do so.

BUSINESS CASE

When will the final business case be provided to the public?

We are working on the final business case and we estimate it will be ready during the first quarter of 2020.

ECONOMY

How will Cayman replace the $200M loss to the economy if the cruise industry declines because we don’t build the piers?

If the cruise industry is allowed to fall into decline, we do not have another industry that can make up the $200m short fall to our economy. For more information on this topic please refer to p10 and 11 in the CBF booklet.

How much of the head tax does the CI government currently get? How much will it go up?

Government currently receives a passenger fee of $12.27 per passenger. On 1.9M passengers, that amounts to $23.3M per year. When the cruise berthing facility is built, passenger numbers will rise to 2.5M – that’s an increase of 600K.

Even with a $2.32 reduction in the passenger fee (to $9.95), the increased volume of passengers’ means government will receive more on an annual basis than it currently does now.
2.5M passengers contributing $9.95 each in fees amounts to government receiving $24.8M.

Instead of receiving $23.3M per year without the piers we will receive 24.8M per year when with them.

How will building a bigger better cargo port decrease our cost of living?

The space at the cargo port will be almost doubled and it will have a new third berth to accommodate larger ships. By enabling the port operations to be carried out more efficiently and more cargo to be brought on larger ships will result in lower shipping costs and ultimately lower the cost of goods.

Why don’t we pay for the port rather than financing over 25 years?

Government is not financing the cruise berthing and cargo port project. All of the costs are being met by Verdant Isle. The country does not have the funding to pay for the cruise berthing and cargo port project and no provision has been made for this during the 2020/2021 budget.

How can you say that this is not costing the people of Cayman anything? What about head tax that used to go to our environmental account?

The dollar amount paid to the Port Authority and to the Environmental Protection fund from passenger fees will remain unchanged. The increase in passengers means the Port Authority and the environmental fund will receive more revenue annually.

How about the loss of stay over tourists who provide four times more revenue than cruise passengers do?

The cruise tourism industry has not been shown to negatively impact stayover arrivals.
For 2018, cruise passenger arrivals topped 1.9 million while stayover arrivals also grew to the highest level in our history.

20% of stay overs generate 80% of our tourism revenue. Why do we not do things to encourage the stayovers and forget the mass tourism?

The Department of Tourism has a number of advertising campaigns primarily running in the USA, Canada and UK to encourage visitors to vacation in the Cayman Islands. Stayover visitor arrivals are up 10% over arrivals for 2018 and we expect to end the year with 500,000 stayover visitors.

But that volume of stayover visitors is not enough to provide employment for thousands of Caymanians or to sustain our tourism industry into the future. Plus, we can only grow stayovers in line with the growth in Hotels as stayovers need accommodations. For more information on this topic please check page 10 in the CBF booklet.

Why not dare to be unique and make Cayman a quality destination?

We take pride in highlighting our unique culture and heritage and promote our Islands as a high quality, diverse destination. For stayover visitation, our uniqueness in this regard works in our favour but it is quite the reverse for the cruise tourism sector. In that instance our uniqueness comes from being the only island in the Caribbean without a berthing facility and rather than that being an attribute, that it is a competitive disadvantage which represents a threat to the future sustainability of our cruise tourism industry.

CAPACITY MANAGEMENT

Stingray city is already overcrowded what are the plans to prevent further overcrowding if visitor numbers increase?

The increase in cruise passengers will be spread out over the calendar year, especially during the summer months which will have the knock on effect of balancing the number of visitors at our major attractions to avoid extreme highs and lows.

How do we prevent negative impact on stay over visitors and on 7 mile beach and stingray city?

The increase in cruise passengers will be spread out over the calendar year, especially during the summer months which will have the knock on effect of balancing the number of visitors at our major attractions to avoid extreme highs and lows.

CARGO

Is the cargo dock now operating efficiently and within capacity?

The cargo dock is operating at near capacity. There is only 440 feet of dock space on one side and 200 feet on the other. The proposed increase in space would allow the port to receive longer vessels and the widening of the piers would accommodate bigger cranes to move the cargo much more efficiently. For more information on this topic please check pages 12 through 14 in the CBF booklet.

CRUISE TERMINAL SHOPS

Who will own and manage the shops on the pier? Can Caymanians bid for them?

The Port Authority will continue to manage and operate the retail space in the cruise terminal area just like it does today. The decision regarding who will occupy the retail outlets rests with the Port Authority. It is important to note that cruise lines will NOT own or operate any of the commercial or retail space in the cruise terminal area.

VERDANT ISLE PORT PARTNERS

Who are VIPP? Who are the shareholders behind the Verdant Isle consortium and what is the asset value of the consortium group?

VIPP is a consortium of 4 companies comprising of McAlpine Ltd, Orion Marine Construction, Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises. Together they offer a high degree of local and international technical expertise and have the relevant experience and key personnel who are familiar with working on projects of similar scope and scale as the cruise berthing facility proposed for George Town.

McAlpine Ltd is a long established local company with significant and wide ranging local construction experience. Their most recent projects for Government include construction of Phase 2 of the Owen Roberts International Airport expansion project and the John Gray High School gymnasium.

Orion Marine Construction has extensive experience in the design and execution of pier constructions projects marine as well as marine works and coral relocation in the Caribbean. They have previously worked on coral reef restoration in the Cayman Islands.

Carnival Corporation is the world’s largest cruise company which attracts approximately 50 percent of the global cruise market. The company operates 10 cruise line brands through a fleet of 102 ships visiting 700 ports around the world.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd is the largest cruise line by revenue and second largest by passengers counts. In 2018, Royal Caribbean International controlled 19.2% of the worldwide cruise market by passengers and 14.0% by revenue. It also operates many of the world’s largest ships.

For additional information on the Verdant Isle consortium please refer to pages 38 and 39 in the CBF booklet.

GENERAL

How do you feel that most of the youth and teens are against the port?

That is an assumption being made by the questioner. We don’t know that to be the case.

Questions from Public Meeting: John A Cumber Primary School West Bay – Tuesday 19 November 2019

The government stated that they would respond to any unanswered questions from last week. If yes – where are those answers to be found. If no, why not?

The questions and answers have been posted here on the Support Our Tourism website. On the FAQ tab there is a drop down box which has each of the meetings.

Why doesn’t the CIG arbitrarily raise the per passenger fee to say $20.00 and negate the need to partner with ANY outside partners? FYI – Galapagos charges $28.00 per person per day. $20pp x 1.9m = $38m PER YEAR!!

Raising the passenger fee would not immediately provide the amount of funding required to build the berthing facility and enlarge the cargo port. Government would have to take a loan and incur debt to pay for the project, which they are not in a position to do under the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility (FFR). Incurring debt would mean that the project would be paid for from the public purse. The arrangement with Verdant Isle is structured so that all of the costs to build and maintain the facility will be met by Verdant Isle without any contributions coming from the public purse. The cruise passengers who use the facility will be paying for it, not the people of the Cayman Islands.

Is Government not informed on this project? Why are they letting outsiders run the show?

Government is very informed about this project. However, Verdant Isle is the preferred bidder that has been selected to construct this project. Verdant Isle designed the cruise berthing facility and enhancements to the cargo port and have technical expertise and experience gained from building many other similar projects. This is why they were invited by government to explain the project in detail and answer questions from the public.

Verdant Isle is comprised of 4 companies, one of which is McAlpine which has been established here for over 50 years and has built many of our public buildings including the original port in 1977 and the Government Administration Building on Elgin Avenue.

The other partners include Royal Caribbean and Carnival who have been bringing cruise passengers to Grand Cayman for decades. Given their long established ties with Cayman these companies can hardly be considered as outsiders. For more information on Verdant Isle Port Partners please refer to pages 38 and 39 in the CBF booklet.

FUNDING

How will government income not decrease when head tax, or a portion thereof, goes to repay the loan to Verdant Isle?

Government currently receives a passenger fee of $12.27 per passenger. On 1.9M passengers, that amounts to $23.3M per year. When the cruise berthing facility is built, passenger numbers will rise to 2.5M – that’s an increase of 600K.

Even with a $2.32 reduction in the passenger fee (to $9.95), the increased volume of passengers’ means government will receive more on an annual basis than it currently does now.
2.5M passengers contributing $9.95 each in fees amounts to government receiving $24.8M.

Instead of receiving $23.3M per year without the piers we will receive 24.8M per year when with them. For more information on how the project will be funded please refer to pages 17 through 19 in the CBF booklet.

If we assign the head tax to Verdant Isle (or a portion thereof) how is Cayman/Caymanians not paying for the port?

Please see the response above and to learn more about how Caymanians are definitely not paying for this project, please refer to pages 17 through 19 in the CBF booklet.

JOBS

Compared to the limited number of jobs available in tendering business and even the dive industry, how many jobs are likely to be available once the cruise berthing /cargo port facility has been completed?

Our cruise tourism industry provides employment for over 4600 people and we know that the vast majority of these jobs are held by Caymanians who work as taxi drivers, tour operators, water-based attractions, restaurateurs, retail shop owners and the like. As the industry grows the number of people required to service the industry will grow in tandem. There will be need for more tours and tour operators and businesses will require more staff as their business expands.

For more information on how the project will create jobs and opportunities for Caymanians please refer to pages 6 and 7 in the CBF booklet.

In a recent period of strong economic growth in which over 3000 jobs were created, Caymanian unemployment fell by only around 100. With only 1,038 Caymanians now unemployed, how can you state that the cruise berths will create 900 jobs for Caymanians? Isn’t this a ridiculous statement that simply does to stand up to economic scrutiny?

The estimated number of jobs created during construction and throughout the lifespan of the project is based on analysis conducted by PwC and their conclusion is outlined in the CBF Public Engagement Outline Business case, page 22. The full report is available here (please hyperlink to the word here to the CBF public engagement OBC – October 2013 report which is on the reports page).

For more information on how the project will create jobs and opportunities for Caymanians please refer to pages 6 and 7 in the CBF booklet.

CAPACITY MANAGEMENT

Stayover guests are already trying to book boating activities on days to avoid cruise ships. More visitors across more days will make the Cayman experience even more unpleasant for stayover visitors. Have you factored in a cost to the lost business form a degraded experience of stayover guests?

Over the last two years stayover visitor arrivals have increased from 400,000 to approximately 500,000 per year. We also know that over 50% of our stayover visitors are repeat guests. During this time, cruise arrivals have grown from 1.7M to 1.9M passengers which tells us that the increase in cruise tourism has not impacted stayover visitation.

Leaving that aside, Even though the number of cruise passengers is projected to increase from 1.9M to 2.5M per annum, the actual number of passengers that will be here on any given day will not significantly increase. The increase is being achieved by bringing passengers here in the summer months when our cruise arrivals would typically be at their lowest. This is also the slow season for stayover visitors.

Additionally, the Port Authority is in charge of the berthing facility and will still be able to say how many passengers we are willing to accept on any given day. The result of all of these factors working together is that we will have a much more consistent through-put of passengers for more days of the year. Instead of having slow days and slow months we will have a steady number of passengers on a more consistent basis.

All of the above factors taken together should lead to an increase for businesses, not a decline.

Given that a number of tourist destinations are advocating for reducing the impact that visitors have on their natural resources why are we looking to increase impact? There would be an impact of increasing stayovers too!

We are not looking to increase the impact on our natural resources. The cruise berthing facility will allow us to take advantage of the fact that in this region, the cruise industry’s peak season is from May to October which is the slow season for our stayover tourism. Currently we don’t get the number of ships and consequently the number of visitors in those months as we do in the winter months. As a consequence, tour operators, taxi drivers and many other businesses that depend on cruise tourism to make a living, really struggle during that slow period. There are at least two mega ships operating in the Caribbean in the summer and neither of them stop in Cayman. They have no intention of stopping here while we rely on tendering. But if we had piers they would stop.

The second important point to note is that even though the number of passengers is projected to increase from 1.9M to 2.5M per annum, the actual number of passengers that will be here on any given day will not significantly increase. The increase is being achieved by bringing passengers here in the summer months when our cruise arrivals would typically be at their lowest. Additionally, the Port Authority is in charge of the berthing facility and will still be able to say how many passengers we are willing to accept on any given day. The result of all of these factors working together is that we will have a much more consistent through-put of passengers for more days of the year. Instead of having slow days and slow months we will have a steady number of passengers on a more consistent basis.

While there are plans to evenly accommodate cruise arrivals year round, the numbers arriving at our port should be fairly evened out. Should we be overly concerned about further overcrowding in the Capital George Town, or will this be minimized by trips taken to visit the Eastern Districts?

You are quite correct that the cruise berthing facility will allow the arrival of ships to be spread more consistently throughout the week, particularly in the summer months, and this will enable passenger arrivals to be maintained at a steady, manageable daily quota year round.

Additionally, the cruise port project is designed to work in harmony with the revitalisation initiative and much of the congestion that currently takes place due to lack of space on Harbour Drive will be eliminated. The way tour buses and Taxi’s pick up and drop off passengers will be much more efficient and will take place dockside rather than curbside which will remove the crowds on the street and ease the pressure on infrastructure and services downtown.

These types of improvements will give passengers more time to explore the Eastern Districts and will enable the attractions outside of George Town to derive benefit from the growth in cruise passenger numbers and passenger spend.

If the number of ‘day visitors’ increases wont it make it harder for local people to find space at the beach?

The beach experience will not be too much different to what it is today because the number of cruise passengers is not going to dramatically increase on a day-to-day basis.
The increase will be achieved by having passengers arriving more consistently throughout the year, particularly during the Summer months. Right now, cruise ship arrivals are unbalanced. We can have four ships one day, two the next and none the day after. Can you imagine what that is like for workers in the industry trying to provide for their families? Balancing daily arrivals will help to keep the daily passenger quota steady and for more days of the year.

To what extent will increased numbers of ‘day visitors’ be detrimental to the enjoyment of stayover tourists?

Over the last two years stayover visitor arrivals have increased from 400,000 to approximately 500,000 per year. We also know that over 50% of our stayover visitors are repeat guests. During this time, cruise arrivals have grown from 1.7M to 1.9M passengers which tells us that the increase in cruise tourism has not impacted stayover visitation.

Leaving that aside, Even though the number of cruise passengers is projected to increase from 1.9M to 2.5M per annum, the actual number of passengers that will be here on any given day will not significantly increase. The increase is being achieved by bringing passengers here in the summer months when our cruise arrivals would typically be at their lowest. This is also the slow season for stayover visitors.

Additionally, the Port Authority is in charge of the berthing facility and will still be able to say how many passengers we are willing to accept on any given day. The result of all of these factors working together is that we will have a much more consistent through-put of passengers for more days of the year. Instead of having slow days and slow months we will have a steady number of passengers on a more consistent basis.

How much will an increased number of ‘day visitors’ increase crowding at Stingray City?

The experience at Stingray City will not be too much different to what it is today because the number of cruise passengers is not going to dramatically increase on a day-to-day basis.

The increase will be achieved by having passengers arriving more consistently throughout the year, particularly during the Summer months. Right now, cruise ship arrivals are unbalanced. We can have four ships one day, two the next and none the day after. Balancing daily arrivals will help to keep the daily passenger quota steady and for more days of the year.

Is there not a risk to Cayman that if our environment is destroyed the tourists will no longer desire to come here?

Less than 1% of our coral reef habitat will be impacted by the CBF project. Building the piers and enhancing our cargo port will not destroy our environment.
99% of the marine habitat that visitors come to our Islands to see remains completely unaffected.

Why are we willing to destroy the environment that we as Caymanians enjoy and that attracts tourists to our shores?

Less than 1% of our coral reef habitat will be impacted by the CBF project. Building the piers and enhancing our cargo port will not destroy our environment.
99% of the marine habitat that visitors come to our Islands to see remains completely unaffected. For more information on how carefully and responsibly this project is being undertaken in order to protect and enhance the marine environment in the George Town Harbour, please refer to pages 20 through 27 in the CBF booklet.

GEORGE TOWN REVITALISATION

The pictures in the presentation are very pretty but where is the Cayman charm?

The pictures in the presentation are artist renderings to try to convey the big picture idea. Even so, the essence of our Cayman charm comes from more than architecture – it comes from our people.

What effect will the turbidity stirred up by the construction work have on our crystal clear waters?

The EIA study indicated that dredging and land reclamation works could cause lethal and sub-lethal turbidity and sedimentation levels that extend up to 200m beyond the project footprint. This was based on review and analyses of numerical model results for both hydraulic and mechanical dredging operations, with different assumptions for the level of sediment generated by the different dredging operations. The 200m distance represents an upper bound estimate derived from the EIA model results.

The Verdant Isle Port Partners design has reduced the requirement for dredging, and has also eliminated the requirement for offshore disposal. In addition, Verdant Isle Port Partners will use a mechanical dredge, real-time monitoring of turbidity levels and adaptive management of the dredge to minimize adverse impacts on the marine environment. This approach is generally consistent the lowest impact scenario considered in the EIA, whereas the 200m distance was based on the highest impact scenario.

Assuming the project proceeds, updated modeling of turbidity and sedimentation due to dredging and cruise ship props and thrusters will be undertaken to define the anticipated impact zone around the project based on the proposed dredging method. This information will be used to finalize the coral relocation and dredge management plans. Corals that are located within the project footprint or within the estimated high impact zone around the project footprint (where high levels of turbidity and sedimentation may have lethal effects on coral) will be relocated. Subsequently, real-time monitoring and adaptive management techniques will be used during dredging to maintain turbidity and sedimentation levels below pre-determined thresholds. These thresholds will be defined based on a review of practical experience from similar projects around the world and consultation with the DOE. This approach will minimize the risk of adverse impacts on corals around the project.

What has been the survival rate in previous attempts to move coral?

Many projects throughout the world have included the successful transplantation/relocation of corals (Young et al. 2012) and this is considered as a good option (mitigation measure) for dredging projects, as well as restoration efforts after ship groundings. The success of relocation is largely dependent upon site selection, with success dependent upon the selection of a recipient site characterized by similar conditions as the donor site. In particular, high water quality, low nutrient input and low sedimentation and wave energy are critical factors (Young et al. 2012, Lirman and Schopmeyer 2016).

In 2018, as a part of the National Environmental Science Program in Australia, a team of scientists reviewed 329 case studies for coral restoration, including 94 cases of direct coral relocation projects (Bostrom-Einarsson et al., 2018, Coral restoration in a changing world – A global synthesis of methods and techniques
The study found that overall, coral relocation via direct transport provided an average survival rate of 64%, with 20% of cases reporting over 90% survival of corals.

Verdant Isle Port Partners has brought together a team of renowned coral relocation and restoration experts, including Polaris Applied Sciences, Sea Ventures Marine Response Unit, ReefTech Inc, and Plant a Million Corals.

These organizations have been partners on large coral restoration projects since 2005 and have successfully managed more than 70 coral assessment and reef restoration projects throughout the Caribbean and beyond, including projects in Mexico, Florida, British Virgin Islands, Southeast Florida, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Grand Cayman and Hawaii. Selected coral relocation projects include the following:

WHEN WHERE SURVIVAL
2006/10 Hawaii Better than reference
2011 Puerto Rico Similar to reference, 2+ years
2012 Puerto Rico Similar to reference, 3 years
2015 Qatar 87% after 2 years
2016/17 Grand Cayman 89%, similar to reference, 2 years
2018 Mexico Ongoing monitoring
2018 Puerto Rico Ongoing monitoring

Questions from Public Meeting: Savannah Primary School Savannah – Saturday 23 November 2019

How will we spread 20K visitors to not overfill our attractions?

The cruise berthing facility will allow us to take advantage of the fact that in this region, the cruise industry’s peak season is from May to October which is the slow season for our stayover tourism. During the summer we don’t get the number of ships or visitors as we do in the winter months and as a consequence, many of the businesses such as tour operators, taxi drivers and others really struggle during that slow period. The reason for this is because the Oasis mega ship will not tender and therefore even though there are at least two of these mega ships operating in the Caribbean in the summer, neither of them stops in Cayman. With the piers they will be able to stop.

The second important point to note is that even though the number of passengers is projected to increase from 1.9M to 2.5M per annum, the actual number of passengers here on any given day will not significantly increase. The increase is being achieved by bringing passengers here in the summer months when our cruise arrivals would typically be at their lowest.

Additionally, the Port Authority is in charge of the berthing facility and will still be able to say how many passengers we are willing to accept on any given day. The result of all of these factors working together is that we will have a much more consistent through-put of passengers for more days of the year. Instead of having slow days and slow months we will have a steady number of passengers on a more consistent basis.

Can Polaris and Dr. Vaughan say where they have worked successfully?

Polaris recently completed two large coral re-attachment projects in Grand Cayman, one in West Bay and the other at Eden Rock. In both cases, shipping incidents dislodged and fractured large sections of the limestone reef and damaged thousands of corals. Polaris restored both sites in 2016 and 2017. There were approximately 3,000 corals involved in these projects and many large pieces of broken reef. Coral fragments that are disturbed/broken by vessel groundings and dragging anchors and then re-attached would be expected to have a lower survival rate than those carefully removed as part of a pre-planned coral relocation project. Regardless, a monitoring study of Polaris’s West Bay coral re-attachment project reported 89% survival of tagged specimens two years after the restoration effort as compared to 93% survival for unaffected coral colonies. Additional detail is provided in the following technical paper:

Precht, W. Challenger G., Warrender T., Rogers K., Hudson H., McCoy, C., Chin P. and T. Austin. 2018 Cooperative Natural Resource Damage Assessment Leads to Successful Restoration of Injured Coral Resources. 71st annual conference of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, San Andres, Colombia | 5–9 November 2018.

Coral colonies that survive for a year or more in good condition following reattachment are likely to mimic natural survival patterns of unaffected corals in future years. The same coral species in the same vicinity relocated by the same teams provides the best evidence of likelihood of success for this project.

Premier, please explain your red line statement on Seven Mile Beach. That is a real concern for those of us still undecided.

“What I have said and the Verdant Isle consortium knows and agrees is if there is any evidence at all or any concern at all that this project would in any way impact the Seven Mile Beach that is the end of the idea, regardless of how far we’ve gone or how much we’ve spent. That’s the red line; that’s always been the red line. But all of the indications are and all of the evidence is that the Environmental impact Assessment said clearly that the West Bay area and the Seven Mile Beach is not at all impacted by this project because of the way the sedimentation moves. So that is the red line and has always been the red line.”

How much coral is actually being affected? I have seen everything from 1 acre to 30 plus acres?

The project footprint is 30 acres. Within that footprint 5 acres is classified as coral and 5 acres is classified as hard compressed bottom with coral here and there. It is not 30 acres of coral being damaged. The five acres of coral is what is being relocated to another site.

Is it true that the cruise ships will be bringing their own busses and taxis and will stop using local ones?

That is absolutely not true.

How do we justify this project when Oasis class ships are in short supply, with only 3 in the Caribbean?

Royal Caribbean has four Oasis class ships operating in the Caribbean and several are on order within the next decade.

The next class of ship for Royal Caribbean is called the Icon which is marginally larger than the Oasis. Carnival also has several larger ships on order, which they call their XL class.

Over the next decade the cruise market will be dominated by Oasis sized ships. That is the trend in the market and that is the direction that Royal Caribbean, Carnival and other cruise lines are moving towards.

A building contractor can build a 1000sf or 5000sf house. The size doesn’t matter it’s the method that counts. Is the same true for coral relocation - is it the method that counts rather than the size of the project?

Yes, the same is true for coral relocation and it is absolutely the method that counts. In much the same way that if a contractor is building 100 houses and he builds them well, the last one should be just as good as the first if his methods are sound and of a good quality.

For coral relocation, the method is the same whether it is one coral being moved or a hundred corals. The method entails starting in one spot and systematically moving along the reef moving each of the corals. The things that matter in coral relocation are things like:
• knowing how to handle the corals;
• knowing where they like to live on the reef as not all species live in the exact same places;
• it also important to use methods of re-attachment that are proven and have been successful; and it’s important to use people that are experienced and have done coral relocation many times.

What is going to happen with the traffic in George Town?

As part of the GT Revitalisation project Government is already improving the road system and capacity to handle traffic more efficiently. But even if government were not putting in new roads, the traffic situation would still be improved because the cruise port project is designed to work in harmony with the revitalisation initiative and therefore much of the congestion that currently takes place due to lack of space on Harbour Drive will be eliminated.

The way tour buses and Taxi’s pick up and drop off passengers will be much more efficient and will take place dockside rather than curbside. This will remove the crowds on the street and will ease the pressure on infrastructure and services downtown.

Please refer to pages 30-32 of the booklet for additional information on the George Town Revitalisation plans.

The Premier stated that the government has spent $9M on reports and studies over the past six years. Was that money well spent in order to give our people credible advice?

From the inception of this project Government has sought to engage the very best experts in their respective fields to provide advice on the various technical aspects of this project. The government and the people of the Cayman Islands deserve to have accurate information from reputable, credible sources in order to make informed decisions. Please refer to page 37 of the CBF booklet for additional information on the reports, studies and decision making process.

We are not against the cruise or cargo port berthing facility; it is the location in GT Harbour that we do not want destroyed. Why not put both at Pedro Castle where the water is very deep, and we would not have to worry about destroying the reefs?

The CIG is not proposing to destroy the George Town Harbour. The area that is going to be impacted is about ten acres in size – five of which is coral and the other five is classified as hard bottom. The government is not downplaying the fact that there will be an impact to the environment but we have to bear in mind that everything has a trade-off. What we have to ensure is that the tradeoff in this instance is the right thing to do and that the economic impact significantly outweighs the impact to the coral. To help mitigate the impact to the environment, Dr. Vaughan and others have been engaged to relocate the coral and to restore ten times the amount that was originally displaced.

Please refer to pages 20 through 29 of the CBF booklet for additional information on the coral relocation and mitigation plans as well as information on why the project will be built in George Town if it goes ahead.

If we have to build this project, why does it have to be in George Town?

As long as our Islands have been settled the Harbour has been in George Town because it is on the Lee side of the island in deep water. We do not have any other protected area for a Harbour. For decades and certainly for the past 50 years that area has been impacted by anchors dropping and dragging. Consequently a massive amount of damage has already occurred to the sea bottom in that area. In addition, over the course of those 50 years, shops and other businesses have developed in that vicinity to accommodate and service visitors from cruise. Moving the cruise terminal outside of George Town would require a lot of this infrastructure to be replicated elsewhere which is not a feasible option. The best place to build this project is in George Town where the harbour has been established for hundreds of years.

By way of comparison the average depth of the North Sound is 12 feet and would require a massive amount of dredging – far more than is required in the George Town location. Please refer to pages the CBF booklet for additional information on this topic.

3. If the referendum result does not reject the project, what key activities will get underway and what will be achieved by 17 January 2020?

Nothing

Is it true that work has already been started on building a coral laboratory?

That is absolutely not true.

Can you explain the EIA scoping document and also the role of the Department of Environment?

The EIA scoping document that is currently being produced by Verdant Isle is looking at the differences between the 2015 design and the new design that has less environmental impact. Meetings have been held with the Department of the Environment and the EIA scoping document document is expected to be finished in early December. At that point the scoping report will be submitted to the DoE and the EAB for approval and they will advise on the next steps in the process.

Before this project can go ahead, a coastal works permit is required in order for more work to be carried out. That work includes the development of the coral relocation plan, the dredge management plan and the environmental management plan. Water quality and turbidity thresholds will also have to be established.

A great deal of preparation work will be required which means work will not be able to begin on relocating any coral – which has to happen first to protect them – until the third quarter of 2020.

What are some of the differences between the 2015 design and the 2019 design?

After the first design was presented to the public in 2015, a further year was spent trying to enhance that design in order to minimise the environmental impact. When we compare the footprint of the two designs now:
• The dredge volume has shrunk by 30%
• The dredge footprint has reduced by 10%
• Hog Sty Bay is not going to be dredged
• The piers have been moved into deeper water and the piers have been narrowed as much as possible

How deep will the dredging be?

To build the piers we will need a total depth of 36ft. The current depth of water at the wall of the GT Harbour is 16ft which means dredging to a maximum of 20ft is required at that location.
As we move further out, the water naturally gets deeper which means that less dredging will be required the further out we go and will eventually taper off to zero because the water is naturally at the required depth of 36 ft.

Are the Verdant Isle representatives attending the public meetings being paid?

No, Verdant Isle is not being paid to attend the public meetings to provide information to the public.

If we put the berthing facilities outside of GT wouldn’t the cruise passengers have more of a choice of transportation taxi to and from GT and even to the turtle centre?

Constructing the piers outside of George Town is not a viable option. The Government has considered many possible scenarios and is satisfied that George Town is the best option for the environment. George Town is already a working harbor and its marine habit is already impacted from cruise and cargo vessels using the area over the past decades. Building the piers elsewhere on the island would require impacting a new environment and the construction of land based infrastructure. Please refer to pages the CBF booklet for additional information on this topic.

Questions from Public Meeting: Bodden Town Civic Centre, Bodden Town – Tuesday 26 November 2019

ENVIRONMENT

We have lost a lot of our shoreline/beach on SMB over the last few years through global warming; this dredging will make us lose more. The SMB is our jewel – why risk losing that?

The single caveat from the outset of the project was that if Seven Mile Beach would be negatively impacted, the project would stop. The answer was and still is an emphatic no.

Additionally, the Premier has stated that “if there is any evidence at all or any concern at all that this project would in any way impact the Seven Mile Beach that is the end of the idea, regardless of how far we’ve gone or how much we’ve spent. That’s the red line; that’s always been the red line. But all of the indications are and all of the evidence is that the Environmental impact Assessment said clearly that the West Bay area and the Seven Mile Beach is not at all impacted by this project because of the way the sedimentation moves. So that is the red line and has always been the red line.” Please refer to pages 20-27 in the CBF booklet for additional information on this topic.

Why did the present government not do a proper dock location study before embarking on this dock project?

As long as our Islands have been settled the Harbour has been in George Town because it is on the Lee side of the island in deep water. We do not have any other protected area for a Harbour. For decades and certainly for the past 50 years that area has been impacted by anchors dropping and dragging. Consequently a massive amount of damage has already occurred to the sea bottom in that area. In addition, over the course of those 50 years, shops and other businesses have developed in that vicinity to accommodate and service visitors from cruise. Moving the cruise terminal outside of George Town would require a lot of this infrastructure to be replicated elsewhere which is not a feasible option. The best place to build this project is in George Town where the harbour has been established for hundreds of years.
By way of example, the average depth of the North Sound is 12 feet and would require a massive amount of dredging – far more than is required in the George Town location.

How can we get objective scientists/engineers to speak on the success of the coral relocation? Where has this been done before and how can we know the success rate?

Polaris recently completed two large coral re-attachment projects in Grand Cayman, one in West Bay and the other at Eden Rock. In both cases, shipping incidents dislodged and fractured large sections of the limestone reef and damaged thousands of corals. Polaris restored both sites in 2016 and 2017. There were approximately 3,000 corals involved in these projects and many large pieces of broken reef. Coral fragments that are disturbed/broken by vessel groundings and dragging anchors and then re-attached would be expected to have a lower survival rate than those carefully removed as part of a pre-planned coral relocation project. Regardless, a monitoring study of Polaris’s West Bay coral re-attachment project reported 89% survival of tagged specimens two years after the restoration effort as compared to 93% survival for unaffected coral colonies. Additional detail is provided in the following technical paper:

Precht, W. Challenger G., Warrender T., Rogers K., Hudson H., McCoy, C., Chin P. and T. Austin. 2018 Cooperative Natural Resource Damage Assessment Leads to Successful Restoration of Injured Coral Resources. 71st annual conference of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, San Andres, Colombia | 5–9 November 2018.

Coral colonies that survive for a year or more in good condition following reattachment are likely to mimic natural survival patterns of unaffected corals in future years. The same coral species in the same vicinity relocated by the same teams provides the best evidence of likelihood of success for this project.

WHY DO WE NEED THE PIERS?

Both Carnival and Royal have said they will keep coming to Cayman. So why do we need the piers?

In terms of the economy:
All of the information that we have tells us that the status quo will not continue. The choice is either we build the piers and we go along the track that has been talked about or over time the number of cruise visitors will significantly reduce. That is because the cruise companies have told us they will not tender their big ships and as a consequence, the Oasis class ships operating in this region do not stop in Cayman.

When a larger vessel is introduced, the smaller, older vessel it replaces is retired from service or redirected to other destinations. As the smaller ships are increasingly replaced, our islands will continue losing passengers and revenue from the smaller, older ships without benefiting from their replacement. For additional information on this topic please refer to page 8 the CBF booklet.

In terms of jobs and employment opportunities:
There are 4600 jobs which depend on cruise tourism. Unlike stayover tourism which employs high degree of expatriates 90% of the workers engaged in the cruise industry are Caymanian and this is how they earn their living. In the past two decades we have had two cycles when cruise passenger arrivals declined significantly and during those times, the persons working in that industry were screaming for government to do something about it. The reality is this – either Cayman decides that we don’t want the cruise business and we want to develop some other industry to employ that sector of our people OR we do what every other jurisdiction in the region has done and provide modern cruise berthing facilities so that there is a welcoming aspect on entry to these islands for the people who are coming here to enjoy what we have to offer and to help benefit our people and our economy. The status quo is not viable even in the medium term.

CAPACITY MANAGEMENT

Do you think traffic will increase or decrease if this project goes forward?

As part of the GT Revitalisation project Government is already improving the road system and capacity to handle traffic more efficiently. But even if government were not putting in new roads, the traffic situation would still be improved because the cruise port project is designed to work in harmony with the revitalisation initiative and therefore much of the congestion that currently takes place due to lack of space on Harbour Drive will be eliminated.

The way tour buses and Taxi’s pick up and drop off passengers will be much more efficient and will take place dockside rather than curbside. This will remove the crowds on the street and will ease the pressure on infrastructure and services downtown.

Please refer to pages 30-32 of the booklet for additional information on the George Town Revitalisation plans.

Will people be able to begin a cruise from Cayman with the new port facility?

That may be a possibility in the future but it is not part of the plan at this point in time.