Resumption of cruise tourism expected in AugustWednesday, April 07, 2021
As the local economy continues to recover from the fallout caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, the tourism sector, which is one of the most severely affected, is now finalising plans to homeport a cruise vessel from the Norwegian Cruise Line company ahead of the resumption of cruise activities slated to commence in August.
Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett, who made the announcement yesterday, said that the venture will see the resumption of cruise tourism on the island, following a halt of the industry since the outbreak of the pandemic last year.
“We look forward to welcoming them back to our shores, and I am confident that this important partnership will aid in our effort to rebuild our tourism sector and boost our economy overall,” Bartlett said.
“While we know there are some concerns about the safety of the cruise industry at this time, we want to assure the public that the cruise lines are adhering to strict COVID-19 safety protocols. We have also been working tirelessly to develop the necessary policy and strategic frameworks, which will ensure that this will be a safe, seamless and secure experience, which will be mutually beneficial,” he added.
While the arrival of air passenger arrivals, which the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) in its last economic performance bulletin said had contracted by close to 82 per cent in January, managed to carry on operations, though limited since the pandemic, cruise tourism was significantly affected by COVID-19 as the disease forced border closures in major tourism destinations across the globe and caused global cruise companies to pull their vessels from these ports. Up to January of this year, the PIOJ reported zero cruise passenger arrivals which contributed to an over 11 per cent contraction of the services sector, of which tourism is a part. During the period total visitor expenditure also fell by almost 62 per cent to US$355.4 million.
The Ministry of Tourism said that the Norwegian Joy cruise vessel will be used to transport passengers embarking from Jamaica with itineraries including seven-day packages and sailing out of Montego Bay on August 7. With this announcement, Jamaica now joins a number of other Caribbean destinations that will be homeports for leading cruise lines including The Bahamas and St Maarten which have also secured bookings with the Celebrity and Crystal cruise brands.
Industry experts believe that the commencement of these activities marks the beginning of a broader resumption for the cruise industry as other major cruise lines were also expecting to start operations outside the US. They further said that as the the country continues to await guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for US-based cruises, they are also expecting cruises from these destinations to resume shortly as more states begin to relax their COVID-19-related restrictions.
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