September 20, 2020

Cayman Islands readies for airport expansion amid tourism surge


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630x355From Travel Pulse
The Cayman Islands government is continuing its efforts to renovate and expand Owen Roberts International Airport (ORIA) amidst surging tourist arrivals. The country’s Central Tenders Committee this week announced an agreement with a U.S. firm to provide architectural and engineering consultancy services to the Cayman Islands Airport Authority (CIAA).
In conjunction with three local construction and engineering firms, RS&H Group of Jacksonville, Fla. will design and execute an “overall expansion of the airport’s footprint” plus “major renovations to the existing arrivals and departures areas to improve passenger flow and enhance the travel experience,” according to a Ministry of Tourism & Transport statement issued this week.
The officials described the agreement as “another major step forward in the Airport Authority’s plans to deliver a modern and attractive facility that will meet current and future travel needs and provide a better travel experience for both visitors and residents.”
RS&H representative are currently in the Cayman Islands and “it is envisioned that the concept design, design development and issuance of tender documents will take place within the first six months of 2015,” said ministry officials.
Construction is expected to begin this during the summer and will be phased in based on proposals contained in an expansion master plans created by the project’s consultants.
“I am pleased that plans to provide more space and improved amenities are moving forward on schedule,” said Moses Kirkconnell, the Cayman Islands’ tourism minister.
The Cayman Island hosted 312,542 land-based, overnight arrivals between January and October of 2014, according to the most recent Caribbean Tourism Organization (CT0) statistics, a 12.6 percent increase over the same period in 2013. Nevertheless ORIA, located on the main island of Grand Cayman, is outdated and subject to overcrowding. The airport operates at double its 500,000-person capacity during peak periods, said Kirkconnell.
“Throughout 2014 our islands consistently registered record-breaking arrivals and projections for the winter season anticipate a continuation of this upward trend,” Kirconnell said. “Consequently, the transformation of ORIA into a modern facility that can deliver a higher level of service, efficiency and comfort to the travelling public remains a top priority.”
Plagued in 2014 by several overcrowding incidents, Kirconnell last year promised the Cayman Islands would launch an airport renovation in 2015 and also seek to launch work on a new cruise ship pier and terminal.
He added that other tourism-related initiatives would include a renovation of public infrastructure in the Georgetown downtown district. “The revitalization of Georgetown is key for the people of the Cayman Islands and for our tourism product,” Kirkconnell said.
Photo: The Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman (Photo by Brian Major).
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