MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – As part of efforts to boost 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, Hon. Edmund Bartlett at the Hilton Rose Hall Beach Resort and Spa.
Chaired by Michael Belnavis, the cruise council 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 with the other member to come from the Jamaica Tourist Board.
Outlining the rationale for the council, Minister Bartlett said the cruise industry had become the fastest growing segment in the travel industry around the world. Jamaica’s experience was in line with that as cruise passenger arrivals grew by 23.5% for the month of June, bringing 110,086 passengers from 25 cruise ship calls.
Of significance is that historically June has not been a good month for cruise shipping to Jamaica and since the opening of the Falmouth Pier in 2010, attracting mega liners, “the growth has been phenomenal.”
However, noted Minister Bartlett, “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 National Cruise Council 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.
Additionally, the council 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, Mr. Belnavis said he recognized that the cruise shipping business was very important to the growth and development of the national economy and expressed his commitment to helping to develop cruise tourism.