Agreement Guarantees 500,000 Cruise Passengers Annually


Minister of Transport and Works, Robert Pickersgill signed a US$17.75 million five-year Facility Fee Agreement today (Feb. 5) with the Port Authority of Jamaica and Carnival Cruise Lines, which will guarantee cruise passenger traffic of 500,000 visitors to the island annually. The signing took place at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.
The contract also guarantees that 80,000 of that number will call at the port of Montego Bay. In his address, Minister Pickersgill explained that the contract value figure referred to revenues such as user fees accruing to the Authority and was not representative of the expenditures by passengers having arrived in Jamaica.
He pointed out that with the implementation of the contract, there would be additional opportunities and spin-offs for tourist attractions and the transportation sector. According to the terms of the contract, the Carnival Corporation, operators of Carnival Cruise Lines will deliver a minimum of 2.5 million cruise passengers over the contract period which runs from January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2008.
Mr. Pickersgill informed that since the Authority took the mantle for cruise shipping, some $236 million had been spent on the physical works and promotion programmes related to the industry and the Authority planned to spend some $190 million in the 2004/05 fiscal year.
In its new role, the Authority has pursued a number of programmes designed to refurbish and upgrade the island’s cruise shipping facilities. These progammes include dredging projects in the ports of Port Antonio and Montego Bay to enhance the depth and width of ship channels.
Mr. Pickersgill pointed out that cruise shipping had been represented in the tourism industry with roots dating back to the 1970s with the arrival of passengers aboard the banana boats of American sea captain, Dow Baker.
He said by the 1980s per annum passenger numbers grew steadily from 133,000 in 1980 to 444,000 in 1989. Last year, a record 1.1 million cruise shipping visitors came to Jamaica last year and the island also welcomed its one millionth cruise passenger to the island in December.
Mr. Pickersgill informed that in addition to growth from the traditional North American cruise partners, there had also been significant increase out of Europe with the period 2002-2004 projected to secure over 180 European cruise ship calls. Presently, Jamaica has two seasonal homeports from Europe and discussions are underway with a number of additional European cruise companies to have them base their vessels here.
“We are confident that this venture will contribute significantly to the growth of cruise shipping and the positive contribution of the sector to advancing the country’s economic development,” Mr. Pickersgill stated, noting that this was the first contract being entered into by Jamaica with a cruise shipping line which guaranteed delivery of the magnitude of cruise ship passengers which was set out in the contract.
“This contract is therefore groundbreaking in more ways than one, because it enables the Authority to have a more specific focus and handle on the planning process for the expansion of the sector,” the Transport Minister said, adding, “today, Carnival Corporation, which is a global cruise company and one of the largest vacation companies in the world, has demonstrated its commitment to Jamaica with the signing of this agreement”.
He assured that for its part, Government, through the Port Authority was committed to pursuing all responsible measures in order to realize the full potential of the contract and Jamaica’s cruise shipping industry.
Meanwhile, Senior Vice President of Operations at Carnival Cruise Lines, Brendan Corrigan also expressed pleasure with the agreement, “I think this will really benefit Jamaica. It makes the future of Jamaica all the more encouraging. You will see that entrepreneurs can go ahead and invest in attractions which will make this country the prime location that not only cruise ship passengers want to go to, but other guests also”.
Mr. Corrigan pointed out that every port in the world was faced with increased expenses in light of the new International Ship and Port Facility Security code (ISPS) code. However, he said, these expenses were worthwhile to ensure proper port security.
Noting that according to surveys, cruise ship passengers spent between US$50 and US$200, Mr. Corrigan said, “That’s a lot of money that’s going into the country, to the store keepers, the attractions, and the merchants, so cruise shipping is very important”.
Carnival operates a fleet of 66 ships with 100 berths and almost 50,000 crewmembers. The company also owns several tour companies that complement their cruise operations including; Holland America and Princess Tours in Alaska and the Canadian Yukon, and Seetours, one of Germany’s leading cruise-tour operations. Carnival’s combined vacation companies attract five million guests annually.

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