Nearly $3b earmarked for Falmouth development
Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the Government is looking to position Falmouth as the jewel of the Caribbean, adding that nearly $3 billion have been earmarked for further development of the town.
The prime minister, who toured the town, including a number of the planned development sites last Friday, added that the Falmouth Pier, which opened its gates in March 2011 and was built as the first-ever thematic cruise port destination and commercial development centre, will be the catalyst that transforms the town into "the region's number one destination" for cruise shipping.
Holness was also quick to point out that the pier was built in anticipation for not only the growing demands of the cruise industry, but also the fact that cruise ships were getting bigger "by the day.
"It wasn't that long ago when we had ships with a carrying capacity of say 2,000 being touted as the largest cruise ships in the world. Since then, we have seen a number of vessels earning that title," he noted.
"We have had Freedom of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas and now, we have Harmony of the Seas, with its 2,747 staterooms, and 8,550 guests and staff on 16 decks.."
The prime minister added that Falmouth is now the biggest and most attractive cruise port in the Caribbean and should have a "very important voice" in cruise shipping in the region going forward.
He further noted that in order to compete with other ports of call in the region, it was imperative that a port of the calibre of Falmouth was built, giving Jamaica the opportunity to accommodate the big mega liners.
"We can now look back and say that it was an excellent idea to have constructed this port," he said. "We can now host the mega liners and all the Oasis Class vessels. This is something that a lot of our competitors do not have and which certainly gives us a competitive advantage."
And noting the streets of Falmouth with their "narrowness and uncovered drains", the prime minister said the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) has been implementing a programme to upgrade the streetscape of the major thoroughfares in the town.
Improvements have already been completed on Falmouth Street, Market Street and Harbour Lane. Work is to commence on Tharpe Street early next month.
He said the PAJ has constructed a new market for the town on lands owned by the agency on Market Street. "This will facilitate the relocation of the current 'bend down' market which is located adjacent to the cruise terminal," Holness added.
"The relocation of the market will resolve the current congestion problems and will provide the citizens of Falmouth with the most modern market in the island."