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Cruise ships wanted

Published:Tuesday | May 24, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Passengers arrive on a charter cruiseline called Silver Sea, the first passenger cruise ship for 2009, which docked at Berth 2, Kingston Wharves, with 200 passengers to see the West Indies vs England Digicel Test cricket match at Sabina Park. - Rudolph Brown/Chief Photographer
With no customers in sight, these craft vendors took time out to lyme while looking at some of the quality products in Joan's shop in the downtown Kingston craft market. - Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer

Craft vendors lament slow business

Vendors in the downtown Kingston craft market on the waterfront say while they are managing to survive, business is slow as shoppers are not coming in.

But the vendors say there is an easy fix to their problem, "Repair the port and let cruise ships start docking there again and we will be fine".

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.

They argued that a return of the Port Royal ferry would also be a boost for their business.

"When the ferry use to run, there were a lot of people taking it to go to Port Royal, so they would come and do their little shopping and then head to Port Royal," said another vendor.

The vendors were quick to reject claims that their prices were chasing away customers.

"We have some of the cheapest things and because business slow, we have to give discounts. You get better prices here than in Ochi (Ocho Rios, St Ann) and that is where all the tourist dem a go," declared Kadia, who told The Gleaner that she has been working in the craft market for seven years.

Promote Kingston

In Joan's shop, the vendors pointed to several quality items which they noted were relatively cheap.

Joan has been selling in the market for 22 years, and even as she remembers the good old days, she is clear about what has to be done for them to return.

"They need to market Kingston as a tourist destination and fix the pier," Joan said.

"It (the craft business) start decline from 1995 and nothing has been done to bring it back," Joan added.

The vendors welcome plans to for the rebirth of downtown Kingston and the major business who are setting up shops in the area, but they want that complemented with a refurbished pier.

- Arthur Hall