BY GUY BRITTON
It’s a booming industry in the Caribbean, and cruising shows no signs of slowing down. That’s particularly true in Jamaica, which has spent significant resources in recent years in an effort to improve its standing as a leading Caribbean port of call. And that’s to continue, with plans to expand capacity, both for large and small-ship cruises, and upgraded port facilities across the country. To learn more, Caribbean Journal caught up with Jamaica Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.
What makes Jamaica a special destination for cruisers?
Jamaica had over 150 distinct attractions, likely the most in the Caribbean. Supported by warm welcoming people and advanced infrastructure. Also there are 5 ports of call, which allows visitors to see different aspects of the culture. The new North South Highway connects visitors arriving on the North coast to Kingston, which they couldn’t have done before.
Jamaica has big plans to upgrade its ports. Can you talk more about that?
We have plans for several of Jamaica’s cruise ports:
Port of Montego Bay Master Plan
• Increased berthing capacity
• New cruise terminal buildings
• Increased ground transportation
• Increase cruise ship/passenger capacity
• Deep dredging to accommodate larger ships
Port of Ocho Rios
• Infrastructure improvements to enhance visitor experience
• Artisan Villages
Port of Falmouth
• Opened in 2011 as Jamaica’s first custom built port
• Georgian town with historic areas
• Highly rated on Trip Advisor
• Ideal for smaller luxury cruise lines and yachts
• Master Plan in development
What is cruising’s overall impact on Jamaica Tourism?
Jamaica welcomed over 1.6 million cruise passenger to island in 2016 with an economic impact of 2.55 billion. The advancement of the cruise industry has facilitated the further development of towns as we develop our ports, which allows Jamaicans to provide goods and services to the entire cruise industry passengers and crew; for example Falmouth Cruise has stimulated new tourism offerings such as walking and trolley tours and more visits to previously under visited attractions.
What is cruising’s impact on Jamaica’s local markets, business and people?
With tourism as a major economic driver in Jamaica, we must do more to build out the capacity of Jamaican businesses and industries, the small and medium tourism enterprises to reap the benefits from tourism. We will be working with the cruise partners to develop our human capital with training and such that more Jamaicans can be employed by the cruise lines outside of Jamaica. Additionally, through our linkages network we will connect businesses and entrepreneurs to be able to supply the demand that a growing tourism brings for goods and services to satisfy customers.
What effect has the cruise port in Falmouth had on that area?
Falmouth provides an inviting and highly attractive gateway to the town from the port. Many Jamaicans have established businesses at the port from restaurants to retailers to craft artisans. It has been helpful to bring the community culture into the port and provide cruise passengers with more access to the community.
What does the future hold for Jamaica and the cruising market?
To become the premier cruise destination in the Caribbean, increasing cruise visitors to 2.5 million by 2020. Build out the capacity of the destination in order to attract more cruise lines as well as increase employment. We will also see improved destination assurance to deliver a superior experience for our visitors. Our future vision also includes the creation of new partnerships and alliances with other destinations within the region to offer new cruise experiences. And most importantly, to further develop Kingston as a tourist destination and visitor cruise port, and attract boutique cruise lines to Port Antonio.