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“We have cleaned up our act”. Jamaica has 1.5 million cruise passengers in 2019

PortandTerminal.com, January 13, 2020

KINGSTON, JAMAICA – Preliminary data from the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) indicates that cruise passengers accounted for over 1.5 million of the approximately 4.3 million tourists visiting the island in 2019.

Speaking at the inaugural visit of the Norwegian Bliss in Ocho Rios, Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett said, “Ocho Rios has had a phenomenal growth trend for last year, welcoming 197 calls, which represented a passenger count of over 600 thousand. This is a 40% contribution to our overall visitor arrivals and has made Ocho Rios the number port for calls in the island.”

“The secret to our success is very simple. We have cleaned up our act to [the point] where the cruise lines are happy with what we have been doing, including our anti-harassment measures,” said Michael Belnavis, Chairman of the National Cruise Council in Jamaica. “Guests can now walk the streets freely without being badgered or harassed”.

Jamaica has had a bad reputation when it comes to crime in the past and perhaps still does. Just enter the query “Is Jamaica…” into Google and you will find that the third most asked question is “Is Jamaica safe?”.

Hawker on a Jamaican beach selling bags of marijuana
Hawker on a Jamaican beach selling bags of marijuana

In 2019 the US Department of State on Friday issued a level-two travel advisory for Jamaica, telling travellers to “exercise increased caution.” There are four advisory levels, ranging from “exercise normal precautions” to “do not travel.”

The advisory says that “violent crime, such as home invasions, armed robberies, and homicide is common” in Jamaica, as well as that “sexual assaults occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts.”

Jamaican Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, also recently emphasized the anti-harassment initiatives and security measures that will be implemented at Port Royal, Kingston, to ensure a safe and hassle-free environment for tourists.

People walking along a road leading to a cruise ship.  Stalls selling tourist souvenirs line the road. Palm trees shade it.
The tourism industry earns over 50 percent of Jamaica’s total foreign exchange earnings and provides about one-fourth of all jobs

“We are not going to allow this new tourist destination to descend into chaos. We are not going to tolerate harassment and public disorder in this area and I am relying on the security forces to put in place the preventative measures so that it doesn’t occur,” he said.

Mr Holness was speaking at a meeting with representatives from the Port Authority of Jamaica, the Urban Development Corporation, the security forces and other stakeholders regarding the development of Port Royal, at Jamaica House, in St. Andrew, on January 8.

READ: Port Royal – The sunken pirate city in Jamaica

“Port Royal will not be a free-for-all. It is not going to be a place for hustlers and thugs and people to come to harass, it has to be a place of order. It will also be a place where not just visitors from overseas will have the opportunity to enjoy the experience, but we want Jamaicans to enjoy the experience as well,” Mr. Holness said.

A cruise port terminal is being developed at the historic town of Port Royal, creating a platform for a thriving cruise tourist destination. The first vessel is slated to dock later this month.

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