Conservation key for tourism

| 01/03/2009

(CNS): According to the Tourism Ministry’s new policy document covering the next five years of the tourism industry’s future, conservation has emerged as a key area of concern among local stakeholders in the sector. Minister Charles Clifford said that among the major issues raised during the consultation period over the future of tourism was the control of cruise numbers, the preservation of natural resources and the control of overall development.

With only three weeks to go before the dissolution of the House, the Minister for Tourism laid the new National Tourism Management Policy on the table of the Legislative Assembly on Friday saying that, whether the industry was growing or whether it faced global economic distress as it does now, a coordinated plan is necessary to manage the industry.

According to survey conducted during the development of the policy document, 84% of those asked felt there was a need to control cruise ship arrivals to reduce negative impacts and 81% felt there was a need to control new accommodation development, the Minister said. There was also strong support for more education, better pay and increased awareness to encourage more Caymanians to enter the tourism industry. He also said there was wide support for the need to protect the marine environment through law enforcement and initiatives to manage and protect sensitive sites on land.

Speaking to his legislative colleagues, the minister said there was little debate about the importance of tourism to the Cayman Islands.  It directly underpins thousands of jobs and small businesses and indirectly supports a wide array of professional fields,” he said.  Tourism both educates and employs many Caymanians and it has provided a world stage for local talent in areas ranging from culinary skills, sports and the performing arts.”

The new policy document, Clifford explained, was based on information drawn from widespread consultation including town hallmeetings in the Sister Islands and all districts throughout Grand Cayman. Input was received from members of the civil service, private sector, the community and from over 200 surveys. The new NTMP includes a section outlining the policy on cruise tourism and an addendum establishing the Go East Initiative Policy and Strategy Framework to shape the way the Eastern Districts are developed, heeding the lessons learned from development along the West Bay Road, the minister noted.   He also said the plan was not new but built on what was already happening in the industry and continued on from the 2003 NTMP.

He said that during the consultation period held with stakeholders in the tourism sector, issues such as a need to focus on sustainable development; promote Cayman culture and heritage and the development of new and alternative forms of tourism were also raised. He added that as a result of the consultation the key policy objectives included developing a skilled Caymanian tourism workforce, providing a high quality, sustainable Caymanian tourism product, managing visitors and their impact, researching, organising and managing tourism more effectively and attracting a higher spending customer. Other issues included managing the Sister Islands as destinations for nature-based tourism and to sustain the quality of the environmental product. Despite this, and coupled with survey results clearly demonstrating local concern for a greater need for protecting the environment and restricting development, he made no mention on the situation regarding the long awaited National Conservation bill, which he has been promising to bring to the Legislative Assembly for three years.

The minister did, however, go on to laud the Go East policy, which he said was all about promoting and preserving the distinctively Caymanian product that exists within the Eastern Districts of Bodden Town, East End and North Side. He said that in the Go East policy there was a rare opportunity to renew the way we look at tourism and to set an ambitious goal of infusing resident feedback into the daily management of how this sectorgrows.

The minister also spoke about the challenges facing the tourism industry and said that the Department of Tourism was doing all it could to mitigate the impact of the global recession.






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  1. Anonymous says:

    This is pure political Pandering!

    It is obvious, with Tourism in its worst shape since 1970, Cayman Airways dept-ridden beyond its ability to ever recover its losses–not to talk about what it owes to the Airport, the Port Project all but DOA, the Minister needs some headlines.

    So there, a Headline!  Too little, too late.

    Anyway the Conservation Bill is one of the most misguided piece of legislation. It would probably stop further development, stop infrastructure and roads expansion. I do not understand how this Bill is offered by the same Minister who proposes the "largest capital project ever" with its already perceived environmental damage to the Seven Mile Beach.

    Cayman, Let us get serious and change this 11th hour Government who has forgotten about us for the last 4 years.




    • Anonymous says:

      Not only has tourism and the environment been neglected for this government’s term, we have yet to see the true picture as to what HAS been spent on Clifford’s pet projects. I expect if and when we ever see the amounts spent in that ministry,  it will be staggering.

  2. Anonymous says:

    conservation is too late now as far as i’m concerned!  should have been looked about from in the early 90’s when things started to develop at a more rapid increase!  this government is about to be dissolved, why would they make an effort on it now???  really confusing to me???

  3. Knal N. Domp says:

    Not to detract from the thrust of Anon’s valid argument, but the Planning & Development Law ldoes in fact limit development in the Hotel Tourist zones (most of that stretch of the coastline from west of Spotter’s Bay down to Colliers) to 5 storeys only. The Island Resort seems to be 6 storeys, but is in fact 5- the last floor is a sort of upper-deck den attic accessed from the penthouse suites and is allowed in terms of an anomaly in the Planning Law that allows these attics. There is a concomitant maximum height clause that defines the actual height of a development, but is measured to roof eave, not roof ridge. The developer of The Islands Resort has simply exploited these ‘loopholes’ to create taller, more majestic, more ostentatious structures- not, I’m sure, what the zoning laws intended in the first place.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Considering the findings held within this policy document that Charles Clifford himself presented to the LA it is amazing that Clifford:

    a) pushes for the proposed cruise ship dock – that aims to increase business from cruise tourism (which the public wants better controlled) and that will destroy a considerable area of marine environment –  marine conservation also called for in this report

    b) approved the 6 story Island Resort – in East End – when all public consultation made clear that development in East End should be **scale appropriate ** and that the people of East End (and Cayman as a whole) did not want East End to turn into the painfully over developed 7 Mile Beach.

    Any other developer who wishes to develop in East End, politicans will tell you, is allowed to also build up to that height (otherwise the Govt will have to compensate them, and of course, the Govt can’t afford to do that for every developer).

    c) has not brought the Conservation Bill before the LA!  3 weeks to go. Lets see if he can do ONE good thing in his time in office.