Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, says the resort town of Ocho Rios is being rebranded to enhance its image and appeal as a top cruise ship destination.
Dr. McNeill, who was addressing the Annual General Meeting of the Association of Jamaica Attractions Limited in Ocho Rios on Saturday (September 22), said the town is being rebranded under the theme: 'Where Eden Meets The Ocean'.
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He disclosed that there have been ongoing discussions between Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) and the Port Authority of Jamaica, and out of those talks, NCL has agreed to increase its commitment to the port of Ocho Rios.
"More specifically, starting in January 2014, the Norwegian Epic, which is NCL's largest ship, with a 4,500 passenger capacity, will be calling on Ocho Rios," Dr. McNeill said.
The Minister said he is aware of the importance of cruise ship arrivals to the attractions sub-sector and so the Ministry is "working quite closely with the Port Authority to get the most for our cruise destinations".
He said the vision is to create at least one marquee attraction per resort area. Citing the historical theme around which the Falmouth pier was created, Dr. McNeill said this appeal could be recreated for each resort area.
He noted that Ocho Rios still has the pull of Dunn's River, Jamaica’s most iconic attraction, but the resort area "needs much work".
"Portland is known for river rafting, Negril for its natural white sand beaches, the south coast for its eco-tourism; these need to be sharpened and improved," he stated.
Dr. McNeill informed that Montego Bay will be next in line for the rebranding exercise. He said that the Carnival Cruise Line remains committed to the second city.