Tue | Jan 23, 2018

Pushing Portland | Craft vendors urged to create unique products

Published:Sunday | February 12, 2017 | 12:00 AMGareth Davis Sr
In this 2015 file photo, Farika Thompson (right) shows three visitors the craft items she had on display in the Portland booth inside the Independence Village.
Craft products on display in a stall in Portland.

Craft vendors in the resort town of Port Antonio, Portland, are being urged to fashion unique products that could boost their sales among tourists and other visitors, as the town seeks to reposition itself to grab a larger slice of the tourism pie.

Daney-Ann Thomas, president of the Portland Chamber of Commerce, says the regular traditional craft items will linger on the shelves for years, as the quality is either not up to standard or visitors are offered the same thing too often.

"What is being offered in the Musgrave market by vendors is not unique enough to attract that type of expected sale and money," said Thomas.


High-end area


"Portland is being marketed as a high-end area and, therefore, the people that can come by way of these expensive European vessels come with experience and taste. So don't expect that plastic items on display in the market by craft vendors will attract or entice tourists to make purchases," added Thomas.

The Portlanders who now benefit the most from the cruise ship passengers are supermarket operators with their varied food items and beverages.

The chamber has reportedly been making attempts to hold discussions with the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) about ways to sensitise and educate craft vendors about the importance of making the requisite adjustments.

"The use of organic material would be a good thing, but how many displays are going to be made available at every cruise shipping destination, which could also result in a glut?" said Thomas.

"We do get calls from TPDCo about cruise ship arrival, but this is usually done at the last minute and, therefore, it does not give us much time to inform the businesses about this.

"This is further compounded by a lack of marketing on the part of the powers that be. It is our uniqueness that allows us to be viable and productive and, therefore, changes have to be made," warned Thomas.

Since the decline in cruise ship arrival to Port Antonio in the 1980s, there have been frequent complaints from craft vendors, who have argued that their livelihood has been disrupted as they are unable to earn from it.

But the cruise passengers who disembark in Port Antonio are usually less than impressed with the craft items on sale.