Upgraded infrastructure necessary to attract cruise ships - Shirley
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), Professor Gordon Shirley says that infrastructural upgrade and a visitor-friendly environment are critical in attracting cruise ships to the island's ports.
Shirley, who was addressing stakeholders on board the Carnival Horizon, the newest and biggest of the Carnival Cruise Line fleet of luxury vessels, in Ocho Rios, St Ann, on October 2, said that it was against this background that the PAJ has pumped billions of dollars into developing resort towns like Ocho Rios.
"The Port Authority of Jamaica emphasises the importance of the feedback received about our ports and terminals from guests, which, over the past few years, has helped to guide a number of improvements, including the upgrade of the main terminal in Ocho Rios and the Turtle River Road as well as the development of the Ocho Rios Fishing Village," Shirley said.
"These enhancements and expansion works at the ports within resort towns will guarantee an improved cruise-visitor experience," he added.
Shirley said that the commitment from Carnival to send its "newest and biggest" vessels to Jamaica is testament to the work that is being undertaken by the PAJ to ensure that the island's ports continue to be of world-class standard and offer visitors both comfort and luxury.
With a capacity of nearly 4,000 passengers, the Carnival Horizon made its maiden voyage to Ocho Rios, where it was welcomed by a high-level team of Jamaican officials.
For his part, Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said that the PAJ must be commended for the work it has been doing at the island's ports of call, noting that both Ocho Rios and Falmouth have started to reap the benefits.
"The visit by the Carnival Horizon is just the beginning of great things to come," he said.
"The long-term goal is for us to get more ships into all the other ports, inclusive of Montego Bay, Kingston, and Port Antonio. We have been laying the groundwork so that our cruise sector will remain robust and also the finest in the region," Bartlett added.
He announced that Jamaica is to benefit from 19 weeks of stopovers and cruise passengers for the winter tourist season in 2019.
This, he said, follows recent commitments from TUI and its Marella cruise line, which is forecast to inject more than US$10 million in revenues; deliver, incrementally, more than 26,000 passengers; and see 43,000 beds occupied.