The cruise berthing debate rages on:
Last week, after a lengthy debate in the Legislative Assembly, government voted down Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller’s motion to take the question of cruise berthing to the people, a grassroots effort to trigger a people-initiated referendum continues.
Those on the pro-port side are speaking out as well. Two tour operators told Cayman 27 why they support the project.
“The majority of local operators, I can tell you, are behind this cruise ship project,” said Shaun Ebanks.
Mr. Ebanks is among the hundreds of Caymanians who depend on cruise tourism for his livelihood. He told Cayman 27 cruise passengers comprise the bulk of his Stingray City tour guests.
If cruise numbers suffer, he said, so will people like him.
“We are going to have a lot of locals that are going to lose their businesses, lose their jobs and income, and then what?” he asked. “What is the plan for them?”
“I think that Cayman needs a dock, a pier, and we’ve been trying to get it through for 30 years, this is the first time a government is actually achieving success,” said tour operator David Miller.
At 65 years old, he said without a cruise berthing facility, retirement is an uncertainty.
“I don’t want to drive a bus for the rest of my life, I want to be able to retire, I want to be able to hire somebody to drive my bus, maybe I will have two buses, I don’t know. But it depends on what happens in the future, and at this time the only way I can do that is if I have more volume of business,” said Mr. Miller.
He believes government has already earned a mandate on the project.
“I think the referendum is a waste of time, you know, because we already voted on this before. This is just a delay tactic, from people who really don’t have any benefit from the cruise ship business,” said Mr. Miller.
As much as he supports the idea of the people having their say on issues of national importance, Mr. Ebanks said in this case, he doubts the grassroots referendum effort can collect the necessary signatures.
“I don’t think they’re going to reach that number, not by registered voters anyway, I really don’t,” said Mr. Ebanks.