Cruise calls set to spikeWednesday, September 22, 2021
BY HORACE HINES
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has announced that cruise shipping will fully return to Jamaican ports shortly and has implored craft vendors and other players who are complaining that they are being denied their share of the tourism pie to exercise patience.
“I beg you to just understand, let's not kill the goose that lays the golden egg, because cruise is going to pick up now. MSC [Cruises] is coming shortly, RCL [Royal Cruise Lines] soon be on board, and in a short while cruise will be back fully. And all our craft vendors in the old way will continue to get your service.
“And I know the difficulty there is. It's a competitive field, but we are going to be resetting that whole exercise. I have set up a team now to reimagine tourism in this post-COVID. It will not be business as usual,” said Bartlett during an interview with reporters yesterday.
The tourism minister disclosed that he has mandated stakeholders in the cruise sector, such as The Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), and Jamaica Vacations Limited (JamVac) to ensure that tour buses visit all craft markets on a rotation basis to guarantee all craft traders equal opportunities.
His comments came in the wake of last week's stop of Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Sunrise to the Ocho Rios Pier, at which time craft vendors directed their ire at the tourism ministry, complaining that the cruise passengers were transported to only jewellery stores and high-end attractions such as Dunn's River Falls and not to craft markets.
“It is like the richer entities are benefiting more than we the local Jamaican people who have been in craft for so many years,” Ocho Rios Craft Market Association President Mossana Martin was quoted as saying then.
“The craft traders are very unhappy with the situation and they are very outraged, and they are going to do a demonstration if they are not going to get any business from the cruise ships coming in,” added Martin.
But on Monday Bartlett noted that craft traders from Pineapple Craft Market and 15 from the Ocho Rios Craft Market had been allowed to peddle their wares on the port and at Dunn's River Falls.
He underscored that when only one ship arrives in a port it is difficult for all craft traders to benefit.
“Scores of craft vendors peddle their wares so that when the ship came in Ocho Rios all the craft vendors at Dunn's River were happy because it made money for them. So I am sorry about some of the craft vendors at the Ocho Rios Craft Market, because 15 of them were on the port and when only one ship comes it is difficult for everybody to get on.
“But the ones at the Dunn's River Falls were all okay. And we are hoping that, with the increased arrival of ships, we are hoping more of the craft vendors will be involved in that whole exercise,” the tourism minister said.
He expressed disappointment that some Jamaicans do not realise that the tourism dollar is very important for the growth of the economy.
“Please, my brothers and sisters of Jamaica, understand that tourism is not an alien thing. It is not giving pleasure to foreigners versus Jamaicans. It is enabling Jamaicans to be able to live a better life as a result of tourists,” said Bartlett.
“Sometimes it is unfortunate to hear comments when people are not sure what tourism is about and try to suggest that it is tourism versus Jamaica. It is not. It is tourists for Jamaica. It is the tourists who bring the dollars, who create the jobs, who enable manufacturing and agriculture and other industries in Jamaica to get a chance to grow,” argued Bartlett.
The Carnival Sunrise wad scheduled to return to Ocho Rios yesterday.