Ocho Rios fights back
Cops Caribbean Leading Cruise Destination award
Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
SQUEEZED BY the consequences of a new cruise-ship pier in Falmouth, coupled with the problem of tourist harassment, the resort town of Ocho Rios has taken a beating in recent years as a cruise destination.
Several ships have been diverted to the Falmouth pier in recent years. Several in-bond stores have also shut their doors in Ocho Rios and opened up for business in Falmouth.
Recently, though, things seem to be taking a turn for the better for Ocho Rios.
The upgrading work on the cruise-ship terminal and the adjoining facilities, which was the second phase of a $400-million Ocho Rios improvement project initiated last year by the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, was completed in October.
Prior to that, the first phase, completed in March, saw the transformation of the Turtle River Road into an eye-catching corridor.
Now, hot on the heels of the upgrade of the Ocho Rios port, has come the announcement that Ocho Rios copped the World Travel Awards (WTA) prize for being the Caribbean's Leading Cruise Destination for 2014.
The award was welcomed by the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA).
"This is so wonderful and I am so happy," said Vana Taylor, area chair for the Ocho Rios/Runaway Bay Chapter of the JHTA.
"I am sure this will help to make our ships return, and our numbers will go up."
Taylor, who was in London for the WTA, said she was encouraging all stakeholders to work to ensure that the port of Ocho Rios remains number one.
The award was one of five won by Jamaica, for 2014, at the prestigious event in London recently. The other awards were Caribbean's Leading Destination, Caribbean's Leading Tourist Board, Caribbean's Leading Cruise Destination, and Caribbean's Leading Heritage Attraction.
On the streets of Ocho Rios on a ship day, increased police presence, aided by the use of strategically placed 'no parking' signs, sees vehicular and pedestrian traffic flowing more smoothly.