MONTEGO BAY: As part of efforts to increase visitor arrivals, the National Cruise Council (NCC) has been resuscitated in the Ministry of Tourism with a mandate “to guide and grow the local cruise economy in a steady and sustainable manner moving forward”.
The 13-member NCC was named recently by Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, at the Hilton Rose Hall Beach Resort and Spa.
Chaired by Michael Belnavis, the NCC reflects a partnership between private and public sector interests.
The other members are: Harry Maragh, CEO of Lannaman and Morris (Shipping) Ltd.; Marilyn Burrowes, President, Dolphin Cove; Judy Shoenbein, of Braemar Tours; John Byles, CEO, Chukka Caribbean; Michael Drakulich, of Mystic Mountain Rain Forest/Mystic Ridge Hotel; Stephen Facey, Chairman & CEO, Pan-Jamaican Investment Trust Ltd.; William Tatham, Vice President, Port Authority of Jamaica; Verna Lugg, General Manager, Verna’s Creation; Lee Bailey, CEO, Caribbean Cruise and Shipping Tours; Denney Chandiram, Bijoux Jewelers Montego Bay; Denton Edwards, Director of Tourism Relations, Ministry of Tourism. The other member will come from the Jamaica Tourist Board.
In explaining the rationale to create the NCC, Bartlett said the cruise industry has become the fastest growing segment in the travel industry worldwide. Jamaica’s cruise sector has increased significantly as cruise passenger arrivals grew by 23.5 per cent for the month of June, bringing 110,086 passengers from 25 cruise ship calls.
Historically, June has not been a good month for cruise shipping to Jamaica. However, since the opening of the Falmouth Pier in 2010, attracting mega liners, the sector has experienced exceptional growth.
Despite the growth, Bartlett said “what has not grown apace is the expenditure, even though it has moved slightly” from US$74 per passenger to US$87. He said the target was to move it to US$100, gradually increasing to US$200 per person at the minimum over the next five years.
Responsibilities of the NCC include advocating for the cruise business in Jamaica, monitoring global cruise shipping trends and strategically safeguarding relationships with cruise shipping lines and enhancing the experience of the cruise ship passenger.
In addition, the NCC will make recommendations that will result in Jamaica’s cruise shipping industry embracing principles of sustainable tourism for development through appropriate policies, also for the improvement of the onshore experience of cruise passengers.
In his first comment as chairman, Belnavis said the cruise shipping business was important to the growth of Jamaica’s economy and he expressed his commitment to helping to develop cruise tourism.