The Ministry of Health & Wellness and the Port Authority of Jamaica have been working jointly on protocols that will allow for the safe resumption of cruise operations to the island, said Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness.
“We are expecting to have cruise shipping return to Jamaica very soon with strict protocols that will enable persons, who have had their livelihoods decimated by the pandemic, to have some hope and at the same time, with the maintenance of the protocols, ensure that no life is lost because of complacency and carelessness,” he said.
He was addressing the commissioning ceremony and christening of the Port Authority’s Jamaica III utility vessel at Newport East on August 11.
The cruise industry has been one of the hardest hit during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The closure of the sector, since March 2020, has significantly impacted various individuals and stakeholders, who depend on cruise shipping for their livelihood.
Prime Minister Holness noted that in managing the virus the Government must strike a balance between protecting lives and livelihoods and come to a position that will satisfy both concerns.
“These are the challenges we face but we cannot continue to manage the pandemic by always shutting down. Shutting down has serious financial implications and increases the fiscal risk to agencies and statutory bodies like the Port Authority,” he noted.
Mr. Holness stressed that the Government has to think carefully, how to put in place measures to manage the pandemic from a public health standpoint, while also “ensuring that we do not create fiscal risks in our public sector bodies by affecting their ability to function and their revenues”.
“The Government is taking a long-term strategic view and thinking as to how this will be done but there has to be a pivot in the management of the pandemic. While a lot has been achieved, there is much more that needs to be done, particularly within the context of (having) a stronger and faster recovery from the pandemic,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said that despite the pandemic, investments are being made to further strengthen the country’s tourism product offerings.
“We must be strategic, pragmatic and flexible in the investments that we make to ensure our resilient recovery. Jamaica was awarded the world leading cruise destination at the 2020 World Travel Awards, and I am pleased to see that the Port Authority of Jamaica has been investing in infrastructure projects to further cement this status,” he noted.
Mr. Holness cited for example, the new Hampden Wharf artisan village in Trelawny, which will enhance the Falmouth experience for visitors and residents.
“Investments have been made in improving attractions around Falmouth and to create an ambience that is welcoming for tourism,” he said.
He noted as well, that in Ocho Rios, a new promenade has been built, which connects the Reynolds Pier to the fishing village and the town.