JIS News

Three days after the passage of Hurricane Dean, the tourism sector is back on track and today welcomed cruise passengers from ‘Freedom of the Seas’ into Ocho Rios.
The passenger vessel, which is the largest in the world, is owned by Royal Caribbean International.
Speaking with JIS News, Director of Tourism at the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) Basil Smith, said that resumption in cruise service so soon after the hurricane, was as a result of the hard work that was undertaken by the Port Authority.
He commended William Tatham, Vice President for Cruise Shipping and his team for “working very hard trying to persuade a number of cruise lines to return.
“Our attractions and hotel sector really fared very well in the storm and we were able to make almost immediate recovery,” Mr. Smith pointed out.
Consequently, we were able to satisfy the cruise line that sufficient attractions were in working order and there would be no risk to guests,” he stated.
According to Mr. Smith the 4,500 cruise passengers will be allowed to participate in the attractions that are available and “enjoy a normal day of port call in Jamaica.”
Commenting on the effects of Hurricane Dean on the island’s tourism sector, the Director reiterated that the industry “fared extremely well” and is only now facing problems with utilities.
“One or two problems that we have had to deal with is the fact that electricity is still not back in Ocho Rios although running water is available. There is also wind damage to a number of homes, which will affect workers in the industry,” Mr. Smith pointed out.
“Efforts are being made by the industry to assist the affected workers in whatever way possible,” he continued.
The Director cited the building code as another major factor, which resulted in the sector being able to bounce back as it did.
Mr. Smith maintained that business is coming back on stream and surprisingly strong demand was being experienced even when the storm was affecting the island. “Some visitors opted not to leave. We had approximately 14,000 guests in the hotels in Jamaica during the storm,” he informed.
Meanwhile, on the matter of the state of public emergency and implications for the sector, Mr. Smith said that this has had no noticeable impact on the industry at this time, and tour operators have not reported any related cancellations of bookings.

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