Bartlett predicts further economic decline for Falmouth, Ocho Rios

Western News

Bartlett predicts further economic decline for Falmouth, Ocho Rios

BY HORACE HINES
Observer West reporter

Thursday, November 26, 2020

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FALMOUTH, Trelawny - Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says economies in Falmouth and other communities in western Jamaica where cruise shipping ports exist will be dealt a further blow in the wake of the announcement by major cruise lines that they will not resume sailing until sometime next year.

“This is going to have a deleterious effect on the economies of places like Ocho Rios and Falmouth. Montego Bay will be affected to a lower degree because cruise tourism has not been the mainstay of Montego Bay. But cruise tourism has been a big part of Falmouth's economy and Ocho Rios,” the tourism minister argued.

He was speaking to reporters after officially opening the two-day Jamaica Health and Wellness Tourism Conference held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre last week.

This is the second such conference being hosted by the Tourism Linkages Network, a division of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), and with physical attendance restricted by COVID-19 protocols, this year's event was streamed live to online participants.

The tourism minister noted that the recent announcement of the cancellations is further blow to especially small players in the cruise sector who have been out of business due the non-arrival of cruise vessels as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“There are thousands of small players and one of the big value of cruise is that it impacts the small and micro players and it has this instant convertible quality that as the ship comes in the harbour the dollar rolls, and it gets into the pocket of the average Jamaican, the average trader, the average provider of services within the area whether it be transportation, whether it be street food, or it is other services,” the tourism minister remarked.

Global cruises came to a screeching halt earlier this year following the outbreak of the disease.

But local stakeholders in the cruise industry were heartened by a recent decision by the United States (US) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to lift its no-sail order for ships in US ports and cruise lines had been set to resume sailings as of December 1.

In response to the slated December 1 resumption, Bartlett was quoted as stating that while it will take some time for full normality to return to the cruise industry, the move by the CDC to lift the no-sail order was a win for Jamaica and other Caribbean cruise-dependent nations.

He indicated then that countries could begin to fast-track their preparations to meet all the expected protocols that will be required.

But he is now bewailing the decision by cruise lines to cancel operations until next year, arguing that the move would also impact arrival projections for the upcoming winter season.

“We feel that the tourism numbers are definitely going to be impacted negatively because cruise tourism provides something a little under a third of the visitors that come to Jamaica,” the tourism minister said.

“And the real truth is that since March we have had zero cruise arrivals and to look to another four, five months... possibly six months with no cruise passengers coming to Jamaica is not going to be a very nice scene particularly in many communities.”

He expressed hope that the availability of vaccines for the disease will build the confidence to restore cruise shipping in the not too distant future.

“We have to hope that the cruise lines move with a little more alacrity, reorient and to prepare themselves. And we also hope that the management of COVID will improve across the globe, that the presence of a vaccine or two, or more, will help to build confidence and hopefully to build the feeling that we can have cruise again and have it earlier than the six months projections that we are now looking at,” Bartlett argued.


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