Vendors at the Pineapple Craft Market in St. Ann are almost 100 per cent vaccinated and should be getting some business from both cruise and stopover arrivals in the coming months, tourism officials say.
President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Clifton Reader, and Chairman of the island’s Resilient Corridors Committee, John Byles, are currently in discussions with transport operators and other local entities to see how best they can assist in speeding up the process where the traditionally “slow” craft market can get some much-needed attention.
This, they added, is even more realistic, especially now that cruise ships have started to come back in increased numbers at the Ocho Rios twin ports (Reynolds and the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) Piers) and on the eve of what is expected to be the best winter tourist season since 2019.
“They have passed the 80 per cent threshold in terms of vaccination, and which would make them one of the first or leading craft markets to do so, thus qualifying them to be a major part of the designated [bubble] tours,” explained Mr. Byles.
“I have reached out to Clifton [Reader] to see what he can do from the hotel side, but definitely we will be doing all that we can to assist this market and its vendors. They have done all that we have asked and more and deserve every assistance that’s possible,” he said.
Mr. Byles also commended the craft traders for their patience and dedication, pointing to their Sunday, November 28 clean-up exercise where vendors turned up in their numbers to improve the aesthetic appeal of the Pineapple Craft Market.
President of the Pineapple Craft Market, Clare Bruce, in an interview with JIS News, said that 55 of the 60 vendors have been vaccinated and that very soon “we will have the full 100 per cent”.
“We have been on a mission to meet the guidelines. We have been having a rough time and really hope we can get some business in the weeks ahead from both the cruise ships and the hotels,” she said.
Executive Director of Jamaica Vacations (JAMVAC), Joy Roberts, said that the Pineapple Craft Market is not only more than “a gem” in the craft industry, but is potentially one of the best in all of Jamaica.
“I am so proud of the Pineapple Craft Market and the great job the vendors have been doing in meeting and adhering to the health and safety guidelines,” Ms. Roberts told JIS News.
“This is a dedicated group of people who, despite all they have been through over the past 21 months, have bonded together for a common good and deserve to get their piece of the pie. I cannot stress enough of how proud I am of them and the fact that they are almost 100 per cent vaccinated and ahead of that 80 per cent required threshold,” she said.
Ms. Roberts said that she will be personally making a recommendation to the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) to get some assistance for some infrastructural work at the market, adding that the Pineapple facility could be the standard by which other craft markets are graded right across the island.
“I am also appealing to other private-sector entities to assist the Pineapple Craft Market as best as possible,” she added.