MONTEGO BAY — Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett, says that Jamaica has made a breakthrough in the Faith-based tourism market, with the historic visit of over 4,000 crew and passengers on the Carnival Destiny cruise ship’s inaugural “Cruise with a Cause” stop in Montego Bay.
The passengers, including religious leaders and music ministers, have participated in several community outreach projects in schools and correctional institutions across the island, since their arrival in Montego Bay on Wednesday June 1.
Mr. Bartlett told a press conference at the Tourism Centre, Montego Bay, on Thursday, that the breakthrough is part of the marketing strategies his ministry has been utilizing, to gain increased arrivals and increase tourism earnings.
“So yesterday, Jamaica saw pretty close to a billion Jamaican dollars of expenditure from over 4,000 people who arrived in the Montego Bay area”, Mr. Bartlett said in reference to the persons who arrived in the “Cruise with a Cause” contingent.
“In addition, of course, to what they have spent, they brought hundreds of thousands of dollars of goodies for the education system in the country, as they went to 233 schools across the island on both days and, in fact, gave a number of schools generous supplies of instructional materials and other technical support,” he stated.
“Cruise with a Cause” was organised by PraiseFest Ministries. The passengers were mainly Christians. They will remain in Montego Bay until June 4, ministering to various communities and distributing school supplies to educational institutions.
According to Mr. Bartlett, the arrival of the Carnival Destiny on the “Cruise with a Cause” trip, could very well be regarded as a red letter day for faith-based tourism in Jamaica, as in the United States alone, there are some 14-16 million persons who travel across the world, annually, for faith-based activities, spending some US$300-$400 million in the process.
“Jamaica then, in seeking to get a bit of that market, is attempting to drive the five million arrivals that we seek in five years and earnings of US$5 billion,” he stated.
He noted that this particular visit comes on the heels of the country’s new incursion into the South American tourism market, which should open up other opportunities for faith-based activities, as Catholicism is very prominent in South American.
He pointed out that, as a result, Jamaica will be getting direct flights from five South American countries during the upcoming fall and winter seasons this year.
By Bryan Miller, JIS Reporter