FCCA: New opportunities emerging as cruise tourism bounces back in Ja
Cruise shipping operators have presented a promising opportunity for Jamaican entrepreneurs to break into the cruise-line business with additional tours showcasing the island’s rich culture.
“Now is the time for new people and experiences throughout all four of Jamaica’s cruise communities,” says Michele Paige, chief executive officer of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA).
Her comments comes on the heels of news that cruise tourism in Jamaica was bouncing back.
“There are clear openings for entrepreneurs to break into the business with cruise lines who are looking for more tours to satisfy their loyal clientele,” Paige said, adding that she was optimistic about the trajectory of the industry.
She said that her positive outlook can be attributed to the multidirectional collaboration between the trade association, its member lines, and Jamaica’s public and private sectors.
This year, Jamaica’s four ports are set to welcome a promising 1.1 million cruise guests from FCCA’s member lines. While this is still 24 per cent less than 2019 arrivals, sector stakeholders expect to meet the 2019 target by the end of 2024.
Paige hailed the effective work and strategies of Jamaica’s tourism leaders, including Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett and Joy Roberts, executive director of Jamaica Vacations Limited, to ensure the sector’s strong return.
PRIVATE SECTOR AID
She also acknowledged the significant roles played by private sector partners, such as Appleton Estate and Chukka Caribbean Adventures, in aiding the recovery post-pandemic.
The association head, who made the remarks ahead of the FCCA’s Cruise Conference & Trade Show, taking place in Mazatlán, Mexico, from November 7 to 11, said she was excited about the potential for entrepreneurs to promote ventures that highlight the island’s rich culture and history and deliver unique, authentic experiences for cruise passengers.
Her comments comes two weeks after a European tour operator told The Gleaner that the visitors she deals with like to discover and feel the simple vibe of the island, instead of an overcommercialised experience.
“They want to feel the real Jamaica; they want authenticity,” the tour operator said.
A number of new or regenerated attractions are on the scene, including Croydon in the Mountains in Catadupa, St James, which, after 20 years, has revamped its tour at its historic organic pineapple and coffee plantation with a bird sanctuary and botanical garden.
“We are also offering a farm-to-table lunch experience, fruit-tasting, and exotic flora and fauna,” tour manager Marsha Esmie said.
With senior representatives from the Jamaican Government and the business sector, including 20 shore excursion executives, confirmed to participate to date, the FCCA is encouraging other destinations to seize this timely opportunity to connect directly with more than 100 decision-makers from the cruise lines and leverage the networking opportunities to build relationships that can lead to greater profitability.
Cruise line executives have confirmed their interest in establishing relationships with local vendors and purchasers in Jamaica.
On average, cruise passengers visiting Jamaica spend about US$115.98 daily, resulting in an aggregate spending of $205.7 million, according to 2018 data. This includes $51.1 million on shore excursions and $11 million on food and beverage. The sector also provides approximately 8,293 jobs to Jamaicans.