Falmouth rebounding as preferred cruise port
There is renewed confidence that the problem of harassment in the cruise shipping town of Falmouth is being brought under control and that it will be seeing an increasing number of cruise calls in the near future.
With the combined efforts of the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), the Port Authority (PAJ) and the Port Security Corps, controls have been put in place to compel transport operators and vendors in particular to operate in a controlled manner that enables trippers disembarking from the mega liners that dock at the port to have a greater sense of security as they explore the Georgian town.
During a walk-though of the portside of Falmouth yesterday (October 19), Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett received positive feedback from stakeholders regarding initiatives that have been implemented to improve the shoreline experience.
He, in turn, expressed delight at the signs of a turnaround and confidence that order and discipline could be maintained in spite of the general feeling of people to do things their own way.
Bartlett said he was satisfied that the team members tasked with controlling the problem “have really put some teeth into the whole business of managing security to ensure seamlessness of the visitor experience.”
He alluded to the timeliness of this outcome as the port was booked for an additional 49 calls to Falmouth over the next six months. This, he said, was a fortune “that we do not take lightly; one that we’re going to use to ensure that Falmouth remains top-of-mind with visitors.”
Even more importantly, Bartlett said he was keen on seeing that the benefits trickle down to informal traders and “the little man because that’s what it’s all about and tourism, because it has that ability for instant convertibility, transfers money fast into the hands of people.”
“We want Falmouth to know that what we do here will determine whether or not it becomes and continues to be a preferred port of call,” Bartlett said.
Access by transport operators to cruise passengers who disembark has been streamlined and craft vendors housed in a temporary craft market in close proximity to the port.
Meanwhile, the fear of Royal Caribbean Lines and Celebrity Cruises withdrawing their mega vessels from Falmouth temporarily has been allayed.
“The issue has been put on hold somewhat given the arrangement that has to take place as a result of the recent climatic events but one of the things that we want to do is to hold on to what we have,” the tourism minister noted as he underscored the thrust to grab market share and hold on to it.
Additional calls to the port have been engendered by the recent passage of Hurricanes Harvey and Maria through the Caribbean leaving a trail of devastation in some Caribbean cruise ship destinations.
In addition to securing Falmouth, the Tourism Minister said the upcoming the UNWTO, Government of Jamaica, World Bank Group and Inter-American Development Bank Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth:
Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism in November would provide an opportunity to make the point that the future of Jamaica’s cruise business was very bright. “It is not just Falmouth’s capacity that we’re increasing but also Ocho Rios and Montego Bay and then we have to look at what other areas are possible, whether Lucea, or Black River or Sav-la-Mar as the case might be.”
Attention will also have to be given to new cruise itinerary arrangements because Cuba and other ports coming on board, “there is going to be need for new itineraries to emerge in the Caribbean space.”
Bartlett also disclosed that changes have been made at the Ministry of Tourism “to strengthen Jamaica Vacations (JAMVAC) with cruise being added to ensure vacation experience as a key part of its portfolio. So what JAMVAC will do now, in addition to airlift it will also be managing the seafaring arrangements.”
He expressed satisfaction that this organizational arrangement would strengthen the cruise product and make more money for the destination.