Portland craft vendors upset despite promise of increased cruise arrivals
PORT ANTONIO, Portland:
While conceding that Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett is seemingly paying serious attention to Port Antonio, Portland, craft vendors are complaining that they are not receiving their fair share in that market.
The more than 60 craft vendors occupying stalls at the Musgrave market in Port Antonio expressed disappointment yesterday, despite the presence of the cruise ship Insignia, which docked at the Ken Wright Pier.
"We didn't sell a single item," complained Cathleen Henry, a craft vendor of 40 years.
"Yes, the ships are returning, thanks to the effort of the honourable minister. However, there is no business for us at the craft market, as only about 10 tourists walked through today (yesterday), and we didn't sell a single item."
She added, "There was a time when we were allowed to sell over by the pier, which is at the entrance to the Ken Wright Pier, but that has since waned. Only two craft vendors are allowed to sell near that entrance."
AT A DISADVANTAGE
According to Henry, their location at the back of the market puts them at a disadvantage, as they are out of the reach of tourists or any potential shoppers, who might not be inclined to make the long walk to get to their secluded site.
"We have been lobbying for an entrance gate to be built across from the pier, which would allow for tourists to walk directly in, and this would also accommodate tour buses. But despite our appeal, all of that has fallen on deaf ears. We have to comply with the payment of vending fees and we are not making a day sale," she argued.
Yesterday, Port Antonio welcomed not only the arrival of the Insignia cruise vessel, which came in from Cuba with 654 passengers and 397 crew members, but also the presence of Bartlett, who toured the ship and spoke about the bright future for tourism in the resort town.
"We intend to restore cruise shipping to Port Antonio," commented Bartlett.
"This is the first of nine ships that will be coming into Port Antonio between now and May of next year. In the month of December, we will have three ships coming into Port Antonio, which is the beginning of the process of repositioning this resort town as a premier port for boutique ships."