Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett has reported a positive turn in the performance of the cruise sector since the start of the year, with the month of January recording a 10.5 per cent growth in cruise passenger arrivals over the similar period last year.
“This is very significant, because what it means is that cruise has now turned the corner properly for growth and we are projecting to have a 15 per cent growth for the 2011/12 period,” the Minister said in a JIS interview.
Mr. Bartlett further added that the increase in cruise passenger arrivals will mean that earnings from cruise tourism will also be increasing somewhere in the region of eight per cent to nine per cent.
The Minister said that with the opening of the Falmouth Cruise Shipping Pier, development of facilities in Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and other areas, backed by increased marketing and promotion of the cruise sector, Jamaica could become a primary cruise destination.
“This initiative and new development (Falmouth Pier) will aid in repositioning Jamaica as a major cruise destination with port capabilities for all size vessels, so that if you are thinking of building future vessels of mega size, Jamaica will be able to accommodate you, or if you are making smaller vessels (boutique type), Jamaica will also be able to accommodate you,” Mr. Bartlett said.
To further enhance the cruise sector growth, the Minister pointed out that promotional and marketing campaigns will be undertaken, particularly in Europe, to bring a number of vessels into local ports, particularly Montego Bay, on the basis of a dual arrangement for land and sea.
“This will allow for a vacationer to come in and spend one week in the hotels, and another week on the seas. This is going to be a very useful fit, as it will bridge the gap between cruise and land-based tourism,” he said.
Mr. Bartlett said it is expected that the indirect revenue that flows from cruise arrivals will increase significantly with the extension of the higher end, luxury brands coming into the island.
“A whole slew of luxury brands will be coming in to Falmouth itself and we are expecting that this will spin-off into Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and elsewhere,” he said.
The Minister explained that the amended duty free Act allows for a wider range of goods to come in duty free and enable Jamaica to reposition itself as a shopping destination.
“Cruise and shopping are like Siamese twins and all the destinations that have had high spends from cruise have been destinations with very powerful and strong shopping experiences and so we expect that with the increased volume, there will be higher levels of shopping and this (shopping) will also penetrate the lower end of the merchandising offering, so that our vendors, craft people, the small restaurants and all our attractions will come in for very active consideration by our visitors,” Mr. Bartlett told JIS News.
CONTACT: KADIAN BROWN