Minister of Tourism Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says the call by European luxury boutique vessel “The World” on the Ken Wright Pier, Port Antonio, Portland, on Sunday (November 7) is a sure sign that “cruise shipping is on its way back.”
Mr. Bartlett, who is back in the island following a successful international tourism blitz in which he and several ministry and government officials made key stops in the Middle East, the United Kingdom as well as the main source markets of the United States and Canada, said that with both Falmouth and Port Royal next on the agenda, all Jamaican ports should be getting ships over the next two to three months.
“Indeed, we welcomed the passengers and crew members of The World to beautiful Port Antonio earlier today [Sunday, November 7]. This is a high-end vessel with 90 passengers, and which will be overnighting until Wednesday. They will be getting off for tours and other activities,” the Minister told JIS News.
“This is just the beginning of something special as we continue to welcome back the ships to our Jamaican ports. We started back in August where the Carnival Sunrise made its first call on Ocho Rios following the near 18 months absence of cruise ships from our ports. Now here we are with Port Antonio getting a bite of the cherry and with better days to come. We know it’s not yet the end all, but it is obvious we are getting there…that we will keep building on this momentum.”
Mr. Bartlett’s optimism is being shared by other stakeholders (craft vendors, raft captains, supermarket and shop owners, restauranters, bar-owners, etc.), with many calling the ship’s arrival “a glimmer of hope” and a prelude of better things to come.
“Well at the very least we got a ship before all the other ports except for Ocho Rios,” said businessman Renault Tomlinson.
“We know we have ways to go but this is a positive start and of course we all know that we have to start from somewhere. I like the fact that they will be overnighting and the possibility of the businesspeople of the town making some money.”
Another businessman, Linval Rose, agreed. “The ships have been away for over 18 months so we will take whatever we can get,” he added. “We might be a small town but we do have some first class attractions [Somerset Falls, Reach Falls, the Errol Flynn Marina, Rafting on the Rio Grande, Boston Jerk]…we have the ambiance and the people right here in Port Antonio.”
Mayor of Port Antonio Councillor Paul Thompson, said that another cruise ship is slated to make a call later this month, noting that “these are positive signs” despite the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have to view every positive sign as a step in the right direction,” he noted. “We are a small town that relies a lot on tourism – both cruise and stopover visitors. Yes, we know we don’t have the infrastructure to accommodate the big ships like Ocho Rios, Falmouth and Montego Bay. There is, however, a market for the small boutique high end vessels and that is where we are making our pitch.”
WRITTEN BY: GARWIN DAVIS
SOURCE: JIS news