Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer
It will not be business as usual for street vendors in the town of Falmouth as the local authorities embark on a comprehensive clean-up of the town to capitalise on the high number of cruise-ship passengers who visit its port.
"We currently enjoy the highest disembarkment rate in the world of over 90 per cent ... and we intend to make the most of such a privilege by making the town one of the cleanest in the Western Hemisphere," Mayor Garth Wilkinson explained .
"One of my big-gest problems is the transition from the pier into the town. I don't want when our visitors leave the port facility they are faced by the police, plus this large gathering of tour operators, and a string of vendors."
According to the mayor, the Trelawny Parish Council has acquired a building at the old wharf where the vendors will be required to operate, while transport operators and even the police will no longer be seen at the gate.
"If nothing else happens during my tenure, this will be achieved," he declared. "I will not allow any tour operator, vendor, or police at the entrance, and Water Square will not be an option because that will also be a zero-tolerance zone in relation to vending."
President of the Trelawny Chamber of Commerce, Richard Bourke, is in full support of the proposed strategies; however, he wants the disembarkment rate to be reflected in increased commercial activities for businesses.
"It (90 per cent) sounds a bit high, but it could also be that they disembark on to the pier, but not into the town," he said. "It is a start, but it must be supported fully."
'Jacob', a sky-juice vendor from Lilliput, St James, travels to the nearby town of Falmouth on a daily basis,. He claims that he is popular with both tourists and locals.
"The people in charge have to do what they want to do, so I am here to work with what I am given," he said.
"The guests will have a place where they can interact with our vendors while being able to move around in the streets and make their purchases without an intimidatory atmosphere."
The parish council has received US$11 million to complete a number of projects, including a comprehensive clean-up of the town.
"We want to make our town the envy of the region, and this is only possible if everyone sees Falmouth as their business," Wilkinson said. "When that happens, we will see even more tourists clamouring for the experience."