The country is currently at about 80 per cent of 2019 levels for cruise ship arrivals.
This was shared by the Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett during his presentation at the closing of the 2023/24 Sectoral Debate today (June 20).
The Minister was speaking about the cruise industry highlighting that Jamaica has faced “a little hiccup” in getting back to pre COVID-19 levels of 2019 as anticipated.
“We were able to have discussions with our partners in the cruise industry and have settled certain understandings with regards to our Western itinerary that has lagged behind because one of our partner ports in the region has not been functioning,” he said.
“I make no reference to name at this time, but these itineraries are influenced by a number of ports of call and if one port is out of whack, it disrupts the itineraries,” he added.
Bartlett shared that in discussions at the Ministry level, “we had to look at the main port for us of Falmouth and I will have a lot more to say about what both Port Authority and [the Ministry] will have to do along with the town and the citizens of Falmouth to bring that port to become a cornerstone port that will anchor the entire itinerary so that whatever the discussions are, the itinerary remains strong because the anchor is there and solid.”
He said that the anchor for the country’s Western cruise itinerary was “another port somewhere else that is [also] not functioning at this time” and that explains the reason for the disruption.
Bartlett said that Ministry will be “working assiduously over the next few weeks and months to ensure that we bring Falmouth to that level where it can be regarded as a cornerstone port” for the Western cruise itinerary.
IDB as a technical partner for environmental sustainability among other issues in tourism
The Minister said that the issues of moving forward with Tourism has been well structured around technical arrangements and he noted that a part of that structure has to do with initiatives in which there are engagements for strategic arrangements reinforcing the action plan that was initiated at an earlier period.
“As a result of that, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has become the technical partner for us as we seek to develop a robust and well defined tourism strategy and action plan which will serve as the road map for a successful tourism future,” he said.
“This strategy addresses the important issues of economic growth and inclusion, environmental sustainability, cultural preservation, human capital development, and maintaining the balance between the quality of a visitor experience and the quality of our lives as citizens of the country,” he added.
Bartlett then emphasised the importance of strategies stating that tourism should serve the people of the country.
“The essence of tourism is not about the tourist, the essence of tourism is about the people of the destination, the people of Jamaica,” he said.
He noted that the tourism strategy “is also as good as the partnerships that we have, and therefore, the Ministry will be partnering with key stakeholders and tourism partners in ensuring that the effort works.”
“To this end, we have begun a series of islandwide workshops to obtain valuable feedback and insights that will help shape the direction of the future of our tourism initiatives. We have already held successful workshops in Montego Bay, Port Antonio, and Ocho Rios and we have workshops that are planned for all the other resort areas across Jamaica,” he said.
The Minister then spoke of the destination assurance framework and strategy which he described as “a historic and groundbreaking activity on the part of Jamaica because we are the only destination in the world that has and will have a destination assurance policy.”
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