Cruise Shipping Crucial To Tourism Sector – Ndombet-Assamba


Minister of Industry and Tourism Aloun Ndombet-Assamba has emphasized that the cruise shipping industry was very important to the country’s tourism sector and pointed out that the challenge now was to convert these cruise passengers into long staying visitors to the island.
She was speaking at the signing of a US$17.75 million five-year Facility Fee Agreement between the Ministry of Transport and Works, 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 on Thursday (Feb. 5) at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.
Pointing out that last year the cruise lines brought to Jamaica a vast majority of the visitors that came to the island’s shores, Mrs. Assamba said the Jamaica Tourist Board would be working with the Port Authority on a programme to “see how we can convert these over one million passengers to long stay passengers”.
“A very important thing that happens in Jamaica when our visitors leave the ships and come on shore is the attractions that they visit and the benefit to the communities in which these attractions are located, also, to those towns close to the cruise ships where they are able to walk the streets safely and comfortably and interact with the locals,” she stated, adding, “this contract can only augur very well for us in the tourist industry and we are very grateful to the Port Authority and the work that they have been doing to attract more and more vessels to Jamaica”.
The contract also states that of the 500,000 passengers guaranteed annually, 80,000 of these would call at the port of Montego Bay. According to the terms of the contract, the Carnival Corporation, operators of Carnival Cruise Lines will provide a minimum of 2.5 million cruise passengers over the contract period which runs from January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2008.
Since the government transferred total operations of cruise shipping to the Authority in 2001, some $236 million has been spent on the physical works and promotion programmes related to the industry and the Authority planned to spend some $190 million in the 2004/2005 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. 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.

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