Jamaican Authorities Discuss How To Improve Cruise Shipping Industry In Resort Areas

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

When it comes to the cruise industry, each cruise lawyer at our firm can tell you that the market is ever-changing. Larger, more modern vessels are being created, and regions that are known for attracting cruise tourists have to keep up with the changing industry. This is exactly what is on Tourism and Entertainment Minister, Hon. Dr. Wykeham
McNeill’s mind.

The Jamaican Government Minister is trying to engage stakeholders in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios in discussions to determine the best way to re-position the cruise shipping industry in those resort areas. According to the Minster, there has been a decline in the number of cruise ship visitors that call in those ports as a result of the opening of the Falmouth Cruise Pier in Trelawny. Once popular cruise destinations, government authorities must now work on a plan to improve the Montego Bay and Ocho Rios ports to make them more appealing to travelers.

During a recent Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ‘Think Tank’, Dr. McNeill discussed the increase in overall cruise ship visitor arrivals. There were a total of 1,073,794 for the 10-month period between January and October, 2012. This represents an 11.2 per cent increase over the 848,237 cruise visitors that called on Jamaica during the same period in 2011.

“We have done extraordinarily well. Our arrivals have been increasing exponentially, largely because of the advent of the Falmouth Cruise Ship Pier. However what has been happening is that Montego Bay and Ocho Rios have remained about flat. So, while Jamaica is doing better, and Falmouth is doing better, there has been some influence on the others,” he said.

Dr. McNeill added that following discussions, which he and Tourism Director, John Lynch, had with stakeholders in Montego Bay, suggestions were made to pursue and market a possible implementation of arranging for home porting for several vessels making calls to Jamaica. Home porting a ship means that the vessel will be registered to a specific port facility, which will then become its home berthing base.

As far as any changes or improvements regarding Ocho Rios, the Tourism Minister pointed out that “we want to expand what’s coming” to that town.

“We have been in discussion with the Chamber of Commerce, with the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), with the Resort Board, and with our partners there, specifically the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), Port Authority of Jamaica and the Parish Council on the matter,” he said, adding that a fleet of ships is expected to dock in Ocho Rios’s port in 2013.

Dr. McNeill added that the port facilities in Ocho Rios were examined about two weeks ago, and authorities discussed how best to make enhancements to the port.

“What we are looking at is to see whether we can come to some consensus and some real plans to go forward. Things may have to be (undertaken) on a phased basis. But, we have to put something on the table, and we are looking to see what plans can be done to help Ocho Rios, working closely with the Port Authority and the UDC,” said the Minister.

Photo Credit: tripadvisor.com