Grand CaymanThe long-discussed cruise ship berthing port project in George Town, Grand Cayman, appears to be moving forward.

<

p>The government previously stated that it wants the facility completed by November 2012 to correspond with it hosting the annual Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association conference.

"That's an ambitious timetable, but we expect that once final contracts are signed with the developers that construction could begin," said Shomari Scott, acting director of tourism.

A new cruise port in George Town would enable berthing of megaships, which until now have bypassed the destination for lack of a suitable facility.

Cruise numbers for 2010, while not yet final, indicate an increase of 3% to 4% over 2009, Scott said. Stayover visitors increased by about 6.5% in 2010, he said.

"We're seeing forward bookings for this year through the rest of the winter and into spring. Business is pacing ahead of last year at this time," he said.

To build greater awareness of the Cayman Islands, the destination launched a tourism campaign called "Caymankind," part of a larger marketing initiative to highlight the people, natural attractions and experiences available to visitors.

The campaign includes TV spots in the U.S., print ads, a website and a strategic social media plan in which visitors are asked to post random acts of kindness performed by Caymanians.

"Memories of the kindnesses of the Caymanian people were what travelers brought home with them 20 years ago. Over time we stopped highlighting this aspect of the Cayman Islands," Scott said. "This campaign focuses on smiling faces and the once-in-a-lifetime experiences that do happen between visitors and locals."

Visit www.caymanislands.ky.

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