(CNS): Premier Alden McLaughlin has declared that Thursday, 28 March 2019, will be a public holiday in honor of the royal visit to the Cayman Islands by Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla. Describing the anticipated arrival of the royal couple next month as a the most important highlight among many for 2019, McLaughlin said the coming year “will be very good for our islands”. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will be making a two-day visit to the islands next month at the end of a Caribbean tour that will include the first ever British royal visit to Cuba.
The royals are due to arrive in Cayman on the afternoon of Wednesday, 27 March, and Prince Charles’ first royal duty will be to officially open the new airport facility. Speaking about that anticipated event at the Chamber Legislative Luncheon on Thursday, the premier said, “This will be a proud moment for all who call these islands home.”
Hitting out at the recent critics of the airport cost overruns and delays, the premier said that when the airport expansion was designed, it was based on what was affordable at the time. But since then government finances have improved, offering the chance to make “a very good new airport experience even better”.
McLaughlin said that “broadly half of the additional spend was the result of positive decisions to improve the quality of the redeveloped airport” and that he was “satisfied that decisions …were sensible and affordable”.
Government has also begun a procurement process to introduce new immigration and passport control kiosks, with a pilot of four kiosks to be in place by the end of 2019, with a view to speed up the process at the new airport.
He said the customs intelligence-led approach has already helped move things more quickly for travellers at the airport. Noting this month’s launch of the new Customs and Border Control Agency, the premier pointed to growing customs revenue, even with the new higher duty-free allowance, as well as the increase in the number of successful interdictions by border control officers.