JIS News

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says cruise shipping remains an important value-added complement to stopover arrivals and will also be a crucial component to Jamaica’s tourism recovery efforts.

Two cruise ships will call on Ocho Rios this week, bringing to five the number of vessels to have called on the resort town since the phased reopening of the sector in August. Mr. Bartlett said, “This development underscores the growing demand for destination Jamaica and the success of efforts to reopen the tourism sector.

“The award-winning MSC Meraviglia returns to the Port of Ocho Rios on Tuesday (September 21) for the first of five calls up to November. Although it has a carrying capacity of… 7,000 passengers and crew, it will be docking with some 2,833 persons on board due to COVID-19 protocols,” Minister Bartlett explained.

He reminded that the MSC Meraviglia was the last cruise ship to dock in Jamaica in early 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, forcing the closure of the island’s international borders.

“Cruise shipping is critical to the recovery of the tourism sector, and we are seeing a welcome return of vessels with the recognition that Jamaica’s Resilient Corridors offer a safe environment for our visitors, tourism workers and the general population,” Mr. Bartlett added.

“With the return of stopover visitor arrivals since June 2020, we have been seeing steady growth towards pre-COVID-19 levels, and now that the cruise shipping industry is back on stream, we are looking forward to significant growth in our numbers,” he further added.

Assistant Director for Marketing and Communications at the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) Kimberly Stiff, said the PAJ has been working overtime with other government agencies to keep things in order, “so we can attract a lot more ships”.

“This is for the people of Jamaica and that’s where our head spaces are,” she noted. “We have not had ships for nearly 18 months and a lot of persons have been hit hard… we all know that. Therefore, we are appealing to all stakeholders to hold strain… to work in unison to get the sector back on track”.

Chairman of the Resilient Corridors Committee, John Byles, said he is encouraged that at long last all sector players seem to be speaking with one voice as the island continues to fight through “the greatest pandemic known to man”.

“This is not a big man versus small man thing,” Mr. Byles pointed out. “We are all fighting this as one Jamaica… one people… and with the sole purpose of defeating this pandemic.”

Mr. Bartlett, in the meantime, said that based on schedules, to date, Jamaica is expecting some 20 calls before year end.

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