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A ray of hope - Return of cruise stops could spur redevelopment of downtown Kingston

Published:Monday | June 6, 2016 | 12:00 AM
A vendor inside her shop at the craft market in downtown Kingston.
Luise, a volunteer from Germany who was working in the Mandeville hospital, journied to the craft market in downtown Kingston in search of souvenirs.
The Festival Marketplace area, called the Food Bazaar, which is now open.
The refurbished Victoria Craft Market in downtown Kingston.

The plan to resume cruise shipping at the Port of Kingston should be good news for vendors in the downtown Kingston craft market who have long argued that this could be the lifeline for their struggling businesses.

"Repair the port and let cruise ships start docking there again and we will be fine," one vendor told The Gleaner recently.

According to vendors, while Jamaicans do come looking for bargains, it needs tourists to push critical volumes of sale.

"Business slow, very slow," said one vendor who identified herself only as Pauline.

"One time we use to get whole heap a tourist, but we nah get none now because the wharf mash up and the ships not coming to dock," Pauline said as she pointed to her well-stocked stall.

"We want cruise shipping to return to Kingston," added Pauline, with support coming from other vendors nearby.




The Port Royal Redevelopment Plan, a project of the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), is predicated on Kingston becoming a cruise ship port through which visitors from Central and South America will flow to the historic site.

Kingston Harbour previously facilitated cruise ships in the 1950s and 1960s.

On February 14, 1966, the world's largest cruise ship at the time, SS United States, docked at Western Terminals.

The UDC, in anticipation of cruise ship return, has started the redevelopment of the Kingston waterfront with the creation of Festival Marketplace, which will provide room for in-bond and local shopping, restaurants and bars, indoor and outdoor exhibition space, a vendor arcade, a food bazaar, gardens, and a waterfront promenade.

The renovation of the Victoria Craft Market has also been done, with the nearby Victoria Pier building leased to operators, who have indicated that they would transform it into a top-of-the-line restaurant with a lounge, a sports gaming facility, an art gallery and an outdoor entertainment area.