Latest updates from Oasis Land and The Cayman Islands

Expansion of Grand Cayman’s airport and the construction of the 2 new cruise piers

Expansion of Grand Cayman’s airport and the construction of the 2 new cruise piers

Tourism minister Moses Kirkconnell has advised that work on the expansion of Grand Cayman’s airport and the construction of the 2 new cruise piers in George Town should begin simultaneously early next year.

Both developments are vital to prepare for Cayman’s increasing tourism numbers, Mr. Kirkconnell said there is an “aggressive timeline” which makes the work necessary as soon as possible.

An environmental impact assessment is currently underway for the pier, and soon a consultation for the airport business case will be put together. Mr. Kirkconnell believes that both developments will be underway in early 2015 and the cruise port will be in operation by 2016, assuming that the environmental report does not highlight any major issues.

The awaited business case for the redevelopment of the Grand Cayman airport is yet to be released, the aim for the development is an affordable concept which will bring many benefits to the island.

Mr. Kirkconnell agreed that the situation at the Owen Roberts International Airport is “embarrassing”, the airport is often packed wall-to-wall during peak hours, which can often been seen in travellers pictures which doesn’t show a welcoming travel destination.

“The business case calls for Owen Roberts International Airport to be expanded in a way that can be afforded by this country – it doesn’t call for privatization, it calls for debt service that can be paid for out of the revenues that the Cayman Islands Airports Authority make,” Mr. Kirkconnell said.

The business case, produced by PwC, was presented to the Progressives caucus last month and will go to Cabinet in the next few weeks.

Mr. Kirkconnell said, “I am hopeful that the request for proposals for the architectural and engineering design can be released in August, and the tender awarded in September.

“The goal will then be to commence construction of the new expansion in early 2015.”

He said the island should not be complacent about record tourism numbers anticipated for 2014 and 2015. The resurgence in the cruise industry, which is expected to bring nearly two million visitors to these shores in 2015, has been attributed to the economic crisis in Europe, rather than local factors.

“It should not be construed that the berthing facility is not required; nor should it be assumed that passenger arrivals can be sustained at this level without it,” he said.