Mon | Sep 24, 2018

Nine cruise ships to call in Portland

Published:Saturday | September 1, 2018 | 12:00 AMGareth Davis Sr/Gleaner Writer
From left: Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett enjoying a meal at Boston Jerk Centre in Portland on Thursday, while Mayor of Port Antonio Paul Thompson looks on, along with Derron Wood, councillor of the Fairy Hill division.

Nine cruise ships are slated to arrive in Port Antonio, Portland, over a five-month period, which will represent a significant improvement in tourist arrival to the resort town.

Port Antonio has been struggling with tourist arrival since the fleet of Norwegian Caribbean Cruise line and Royal Caribbean vessels pulled out in the 1980s, taking their business elsewhere.

But with Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett promising to ensure that Portland benefits fairly from the tourism market, expectations are high that things could turn around for the better.

"Port Antonio will benefit from nine cruise ships arrival from October 2018 to March 2019," Bartlett said.

"These are boutique ships, whose passengers will be here for the Portland experience. Visitors must not only see the high-quality experience, but the experience must exceed their expectation. We have to ensure that the product is in keeping with the environment and the people. The product without the people is a wasted thought. The rafting experience is an awesome product, which has to be revived in the quickest possible time."

HIGHER-QUALITY EXPERIENCE

According to the minister, a public-private partnership is needed that will enable a building out of a higher-quality experience. He said that such a partnership would ensure that the facilities at Rio Grande rafting, Portland's premiere tourist attraction site, is lifted to a higher level.

Bartlett's comments come in the wake of a tour on Thursday to various tourist-attractions sites in East Portland, including the Boston Jerk Centre, Boston Beach, Great Huts, Rafters Rest, Drapers public beach, the Port Antonio Craft Village, and Frenchman's Cove beach.

PRISTINE ARTISAN VILLAGE EXPERIENCE

"The craft village was built to accommodate different assets and product offering to visitors from the ships and stop-over visitors who come for the experience. We are going to create the pristine artisan village experience for Port Antonio. I need to add more value by creating the space for food and also to create the place for the entertainment experience and a play area for the children," said the minister.

"I have given instruction to the Tourism Product Development Company to complete the design so that we can put that in the Budget for next fiscal year. Boston Jerk Centre is an iconic facility, which is renowned internationally. Jerk pork has a rich history dating back to several centuries, but it has managed to maintain its taste and authenticity. This is the gastronomy experience that is craved by a majority of visitors."

Boston Beach, which received a major facelift more than two years ago, is to undergo additional renovations. This is keeping in line with Bartlett's plan to upgrade and improve the attractions and basic amenities at public beaches so as to make the facilities more attractive to locals and foreigners.