Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Portland to benefit from nine cruise ships

Published:Wednesday | September 5, 2018 | 12:00 AMGareth Davis Sr/Gleaner Writer
Gareth Davis Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett (left), enjoying a meal at Boston Jerk Centre in Portland on Thursday, while Mayor of Port Antonio Paul Thompson (centre) and Derron Wood, councillor of the Fairy Hill division look on.

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

Port Antonio, which is the island's cradle of tourism, 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 Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett promising to ensure that Portland receives its fair share of the tourism market, expectations are high that things could turn around for the better.

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


Awesome product


"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," Bartlett added.

According to him, a public-private partnership is needed that will enable a building out of a higher quality experience. He said that such a partnership is needed at this time so as to ensure that the facilities at Rio Grande Rafting, Portland's premiere tourist attraction site, is greatly improved.

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

"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.

"I have given instruction to the Tourism Product Development Company to complete the design, in relation to those things, so that we can put that in the budget for next year. Boston Jerk Centre is an iconic facility which is renowned internationally," the minister outlined

Meantime, Boston Beach, which received a major facelift more than two years ago, is to undergo additional renovations. This is in keeping 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.