GEORGE TOWN, Grand Cayman -- The Cayman Islands will have 95% of its hotel room inventory, 65% of its condominium/apartment units and 76% of its guest house accommodations back in operation by next month, according to Charles Clifford, minister of tourism.

Those percentages represent a combined total of 80% of all room stock that had been damaged by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. By March 2006, the combined room total will be 93%, according to Clifford, who said that all references to "pre-Ivan room stock" would now cease.

"From today forward we will work with the room stock we have, we will develop strategies which will fill those rooms and, with our private sector partners, [we will] encourage tourism investment in the Cayman Islands."

Other initiatives announced by Clifford include: redevelopment of Owen Roberts International Airport on Grand Cayman, beginning next year; a cruise port development project to reduce congestion of ships and passengers in George Town, also on Grand Cayman; and to set up alternate ports on Grand Cayman when bad weather prevents access to George Town harbor.

In addition, Clifford said that the government will "aggressively" pursue berthing facilities to give passengers more time onshore and easier access on and off the cruise ships.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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