KINGSTON: Preliminary data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica shows that cruise tourism has seen an almost 300% increase in earnings over the last ten years. In 2008, the sector earned J$7.5billion and in 2017 cruise saw earnings of J$22.6billion.
Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett, who made the announcement at Jamaica Vacations’ (JAMVAC’s) Cruise Council cocktail, said, “Cruise tourism for Jamaica has been a long journey of growth and development over many years and it began much like all other industries with a small beginning then mushroomed into proportions that today we can regard as an integral part of the fabric of our economy.
What we recognize as well is that cruise provides the best and most immediate form of conversion of wealth into the pockets and economies of the local destination. The impact of this sizeable earning therefore has been instantaneous in the communities across the country.”
JAMVAC Limited, an agency of the Ministry of Tourism, has direct responsibility for cruise. JAMVAC has since been an important player in Jamaica’s growing cruise industry which last year received a significant boost with vessels including Marella Cruise, Carnival Horizon and Ms Sirena arriving in Jamaican waters for the very first time.
Last year over 4.3 million visitors arrived in Jamaica; 2.4 million via airports and a further 1.8 million by cruise. These visitors generated approximately USD3.3billion in earnings, an 8.6% increase over 2017.
“The indications are that cruise earnings for 2018, are apace if not ahead of 2017 and that means it has made a bigger contribution to the overall USD3.3billion we earned last year for tourism overall.
We want to grow cruise by looking at new ports and new possibilities and the Prime Minister has spearheaded the whole transformation approaches for a new port in Port Royal which will have a sea walk facility to enable a collapsible jetty that will be able to dock huge ships in the port royal harbour by the end of this year and we have secure done vessel that will come in 2020,” Minister Bartlett said.
JAMVAC’s Executive Director Joy Roberts also noted, “2018 was an incredible year for Jamaican tourism and JAMVAC as we were able to see our strategies and work bear fruit. Jamaica has so much to offer as a destination and that is why it was important for us to promote brand Jamaica not only to the traditional markets but to also seek new markets with diverse interests. I have no doubt that 2019 will prove to be an even better year for Jamaican tourism”.
Increased cruise arrivals is a key component in the ministry’s strategy to not only increase overall economic growth but to practice inclusive tourism. Benefits from cruise tourism positively affect a wide range of Small and Medium Sized Tourism Enterprises (SMTEs) as well as local service providers including contract carriage operators, craft vendors, artisans, food and beverage producers, local community groups, DJs and entertainers.
JAMVAC has been employing new strategies to enhance the cruise experience by providing entertainment at each port and getting real time feedback from cruise passengers through their digital happy or not monitors.