Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says the Port of Falmouth in Trelawny is poised to become a model regional cruise shipping destination, noting that this augurs well for Jamaica’s industry to exponentially record additional growth.
Mr. Bartlett said, to date, the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) has spent approximately $190 million to undertake projects in town, inclusive of renovation of the Falmouth Court House and the renowned Water Square business district.
“We are also working in collaboration with local stakeholders and Government agencies (and) are relocating vendors to more strategic locations, painting
buildings, taking the mentally ill and homeless off the streets, establishing visitor centres, and increasing the number of district constables in the town to help keep crime in check,” he added.
Against this background, Mr. Bartlett contends that not only does the port have the potential to be one of the finest cruise shipping destinations globally, “but the town will also be a place where visitors will want to travel miles to see.”
“When we are through with the development plans for Falmouth, it will be the undisputed pearl of the Caribbean. We have taken note of the concerns of visitors that when they exit the port there has not been much to see on the outside. All that will change when the $1.1 billion worth of (additional) projects start to kick in,” the Minister stated.
He was speaking at the Falmouth Heritage Expo and launch of the Heritage Map of Jamaica on October 18.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bartlett said the Falmouth Port continues to lead the way with cruise passenger arrivals, which totalled 48,910 in August, representing a 5.4 per cent increase.
He also cited the continued presence of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class vessels- Harmony of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas- as proof of the cruise- line’s sustained commitment to Falmouth and, by extension, Jamaica as a preferred destination.
“We can all recall earlier in the year when there were concerns raised as it relates to ships being…rerouted from the Falmouth Port. Well, not only are the ships still here, but we will also be seeing an additional 68 calls, representing almost 190,000 more passengers,” the Minister said.
Mr. Bartlett indicated that in preparation for this, the Government has further ramped up the town’s anti-visitor harassment programme, resulting in significant safety improvements in Falmouth and surrounding areas.
“We are all aware of the important role that cruise shipping plays and also the contribution Falmouth is making to the cruise sector. What we are doing is to build out the town and port infrastructure as well as the visitor experience so that when the cruise ships dock, there is good reason for visitors to disembark,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bartlett said he was pleased to see that Falmouth has been well documented on the updated map of Heritage Sites of Jamaica.
He pointed out that the map, which was produced by the Tourism Product Development Company, “is more comprehensive and interactive, showcasing cultural and natural heritage sites across the island.”
“It caters to visitors and locals looking for adventure (and) those looking for nature, wellness, hiking and camping in the mountains as well as those interested in our plant and aquatic life.
Additionally, it caters to those who are interested in historical forts, schools and churches,” Mr. Bartlett further stated.