The Cayman Islands will have a brand-new
underwater tourist attraction in 2003. The Hon.
McKeeva Bush, Minister of Tourism recently
announced that the Government will provide funds to
kick-start the project known as Shipwreck City.
The “Shipwreck City” initiative, which involves
the sinking of five ships in the waters around Grand
Cayman and Little Cayman, is the brainchild of the
watersports operators of the Cayman Islands and has
been developed over the past two years.
The Minister is in contact with the United
Kingdom Ministry of Defense to secure a British war
ship with historic connections to the Caribbean as the
potential first ship of Shipwreck City.
Hon. McKeeva Bush said, “The Cayman
Islands is in need of new and exciting attractions to
bring visitors here. We have reached the peek of our
tourism life cycle and it is high time to rejuvenate our
product offerings if we are to maintain our international
leadership role in the diving and snorkeling markets.
Shipwreck City will bring great benefits for all involved
in the tourism industry, as those who will come to dive
and snorkel the new wrecks will fly here, rent
accommodations, visit our fine restaurants, as well as
renting cars and visiting our many other land based
attractions. The wrecks will also be popular snorkel
spots for cruise passengers and provide an additional
attraction for submarines”.
It is envisaged, that the first ship will be sunk
on the West Side of Grand Cayman, where the cruise
ship, Rhapsody ran aground several years ago. The
site has the ideal ground composition, size, depth and
location and is in need of an artificial reef since its
natural reef was destroyed.
Nancy Romanica, CITA Watersports Director
and Shipwreck City Project Manager said “In addition
to providing a very popular underwater attraction for
our visitors, shipwrecks also offer great opportunities
for scientific studies for artificial reef development and
fish colonization and bio-diversity studies. Already, a
number of very reputable scientific research units
have expressed their interest in working with the
Cayman Islands to push forward the border of
knowledge for marine research and conservation.”
To develop a permanent revenue flow for
ongoing maintenance, research and conservation
efforts, as well as funding additional wrecks, it is planned to introduce a “per person visitation fee”
charged to all watersports operators for taking visitors
to the wreck.
The Hon. McKeeva Bush concluded “there is
no better year than 2003 to inaugurate Shipwreck
City, especially with sinking a British ship as a
monument signifying our historic links to the United
Kingdom. With the commencement of this project
during our quincentennial anniversary year, we are
celebrating our past, our present and most
importantly, our successful future.”