Wed | Aug 23, 2017

...but Falmouth still awaits the big windfall

Published:Tuesday | September 20, 2016 | 9:00 AMAdrian Frater

When former Prime Minister Bruce Golding officially opened the US$269-million cruise ship pier in Falmouth, Trelawny, on Tuesday, March 22, 2011, residents of the historic Georgian town could only envisage one thing - prosperity in their immediate and long-term future.

During the pier's two-year construction phase, the residents were fed a constant narrative that there would be significant spin-offs for them. As a consequence, many business operators heeded the advice to give their businesses a facelift in keeping with the town's new look, which included the pedestrianisation of the town's centre, Water Square.

In fact, just two months after Oasis of the Seas, with its 6,000 passengers and 2,000 crew members, became the first cruise vessel to dock in Falmouth, the town's then Mayor Colin Gager was already giving cruise shipping a passing grade.

"Business is thriving and new employment opportunities are opening up," Gager told The Gleaner. "The town is now opened up to the world, and I am just absolutely delighted about it."

Now, some five years later, the dream of vast sums of money flowing into the town's coffers has been replaced by much frustration as, according to Dennis Meadows, the Jamaica Labour Party's caretaker for North Trelawny, the pier has become like an oasis in a desert for the residents.

NO NOTEWORTHY ATTRACTIONS

"While the cruise ship pier continues to show impressive arrival figures, the benefits are not reaching the people and it is now a source of much disenchantment," said Meadows, who thinks weak leadership and a failure to implement critical plans are to be blamed for the existing situation.

Unlike other cruise ship towns like Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, which have marquee attractions to entice visitors, Falmouth has no attractions of note. As a consequence, instead of staying in the town, cruise ship passengers are swiftly 'bussed' away to destinations in St James and St Ann to enjoy their attractions.

The residents of Falmouth were recently given yet another reason to believe that there might still be a silver lining on the horizon for them through an announcement than an artisan village is to be created in the town.

During a recent Recognition and Awards ceremony in Falmouth for the Organisation of American States Tourism, Product Development Company Craft Enhancement Project, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett promised that an artisan village is to be created in the Trelawny parish capital.

According to him, the artisan village will be a one-stop facility where visitors can see the creation and merchandising of craft items, while enjoying authentic Jamaican entertainment and leisure activities.

The artisan village will also provide an avenue for Jamaican artists and craftsmen to expose their creativity by producing unique indigenous items, thus limiting the volume of imported craft items that are being sold in the industry.