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Cruise-ship visit inspires hope for Port Antonio tourism

Published:Friday | March 30, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Tourists enjoying the white-sand beach at Errol Flynn Marina, Port Antonio on Wednesday. - PHOTO BY GARETH DAVIS

Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer

PORT ANTONIO, Portland:

DEUTSCHLAND, A European vessel, docked at the Ken Wright shipping pier in Port Antonio on Tuesday, creating a glimmer of hope for tourism interests, who welcomed the overnight stay of the ship.

The cruise ship, which arrived with approximately 360 passengers, set sail at 10 p.m. on Wednesday after two days in a parish of pristine beauty, white-sand beaches, along with one of Jamaica's oldest tourist attractions, Rio Grande rafting.

General manager of the Errol Flynn Marina in Port Antonio, Dale Westin, said the docking of the ship was timely, as the resort town had not benefited from a cruise ship arrival for almost a year.

"We are happy for this vessel. This is a plus for tourism interests, and the fact that this vessel stayed overnight gave some of the passengers an opportunity to experience nightlife in Port Antonio. Operators of various attraction sites and other businesses have benefited, and we are hoping that other vessels will be lured into Port Antonio shortly."

Lobbying pays off

The ship's arrival was a result of persistent lobbying efforts from hotelier and businessman, Gordon Townsend, who was influential in getting the cruise vessel to visit Port Antonio, which has only benefited from two cruise ship visits in the last year and a half.

Craft vendor Michael Mitchell, who was excited about the visit, noted that at least one cruise visit per week could very well result in a revival of tourism.

Sylvia Ambrose, a cruise ship passenger from Switzerland, said it was her second visit to Port Antonio. According to her, the town is probably the most beautiful place she has seen, with its natural look, lush vegetation, and friendly people.

rural@gleanerjm.com