2 million cruise passengers to arrive next year
Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett has said cruise passenger arrivals are expected to increase to two million in 2017, which would push total tourist arrivals to a record four million.
This, he said, would put the country in the number-three position in the region, after Mexico and the Dominican Republic, in terms of visitor arrivals.
A total of 1.8 million cruise passengers have visited Jamaica since the start of the year, up from some 1.5 million in 2015.
Bartlett said the growth in the cruise sector over the last 10 years and the redounding significant impact on the Jamaican economy, provided the context for last week's meeting by him and Prime Minister Andrew Holness with key cruise stakeholders, held in Miami, Florida.
Bartlett said the meeting with the cruise ship owners, chief executive officers and key operational persons was productive.
"We were able to talk about a wide range of interests and strengthen the partnerships ... . we feel very positive about that," he said.
Bartlett noted that there were discussions on expanding the industry through increased passenger arrivals and the opening of additional ports.
He added that expansion of the industry will also generate employment and manufacturing opportunities for Jamaicans, through the provision of supplies for ships docked at the ports as well as jobs aboard the vessels.
The minister said the Tourism Linkages Council will be implementing measures, starting next year, which will bring together the procurement needs of the cruise ships and Jamaican suppliers.
"We want to streamline the cruise subsector and to create a greater sense of connection between us and them, and to open up the communication lines and establish the points of reference that the subsector has," he said.
Noting that the meeting with the cruise industry interests was in line with the Government's push to strengthen partnerships, Bartlett said the stakeholders indicated that it was meaningful to them that the prime minister was a part of the discussions on the way forward.