Almost 20,000 players in the tourism industry had the opportunity to benefit from the recent return of cruises to Jamaica.
This was disclosed by portfolio Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, in an interview with JIS News.
The Carnival Sunrise, the first cruise ship to dock in Jamaica following a 17-month hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, arrived in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, on August 16 with approximately 3,000 passengers and crew.
“So it brought, I think, just a little under 20,000 players, overall, having an opportunity to get something from it all the way to Montego Bay, as the cruisers were taken to different parts, to attractions and to different experiences,” said Minister Bartlett.
He indicated that the arrival of the ship was an exciting moment, not just for the people in Ocho Rios but for “the cruise workers who had not done any work for 17 months, for a number of the tour operators and ground transportation people who hadn’t taken any cruise passengers for the same period, and certainly for the shops, vendors and craft traders – all the players who have traditionally been part of this big industry, but who had been laid off or otherwise out of a job for 17 months”.
Minister Bartlett further pointed out that it was “hard work” leading up to the return of cruises.
“It was a whole process of building out a series of protocols that kept changing as the virus changed and as the requirements for the COVID-compliance rules changed and morphed,” said Minister Bartlett.
He also informed that the Ministry of Tourism, Port Authority of Jamaica and the Ministries of Health and Wellness; National Security; and Local Government and Rural Development all worked “assiduously to ensure that the protocols required to enable a safe return of cruises were in place”.
He said also that the cruise operators spent a lot of time refining, reordering, changing and making sure that they were compliant with the rules of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) as well as the rules of the countries that they had to work with.