Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett (left), converses with Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) President, Michelle Paige, during a media briefing on April 6. Photo: Garwin Davis
By Garwin Davis
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica (JIS) -- The Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) has hailed Jamaica’s success in significantly reducing visitor harassment, saying it augurs well for future relations.
During a three-day fact finding trip to the island, the FCCA team led by president, Michelle Paige, said Jamaica has done a tremendous job in tackling the problem head on, noting that there were clear signs that guests could move about freely without fear of being followed or badgered.
“What we have seen over the past three days during our visit to the main ports and also to some of the attractions has been truly amazing,” she told journalists at a media briefing in Montego Bay on April 6.
She noted that “Jamaica, with all its natural beauty and wonderful people, has always been a very popular destination.”
“The problem is that a lot of the guests have either been complaining or have been reluctant to experience the product because of some of the things they had to go through. That was a major turnoff and certainly was bad for business,” she pointed out.
Paige also said that this threatened to derail the special relationship the FCCA has shared with Jamaica for over five decades.
Cruise officials, she indicated, remain unconvinced that the situation had changed, despite representation made by a high powered delegation, led by prime minister, Andrew Holness, which visited Miami nearly six months ago.
“So we decided to come and see for ourselves; as the saying goes the proof is in the (eating of the) pudding. We decided to do something which we haven’t done in 20-odd years, and that is to take a high-level team on the ground in Jamaica to see what exactly is going on.
“We can safely say that we are leaving more impressed than we have ever been. If what we saw here over the past three days can be sustained, then you guys have every reason to be optimistic,” Paige stated.
Tourism minister, Edmund Bartlett, welcomed the FCCA delegation’s visit to get a first-hand view of the government’s anti-harassment efforts which he said “clearly have been bearing fruits.”
“What we are seeing is a positive shift in momentum for Jamaica. We have always been a special destination that everybody wanted to be associated with. Our problem has always been with the harassment and the complaints from guests. Once we get that under control, then there is no stopping us from being the destination of choice in the Caribbean,” he stated.
The FCCA is a not-for-profit trade organization with a membership comprising 19 cruise lines operating more than 100 vessels between Florida, the Caribbean and Latin American.
Created in 1972, the FCCA’s mandate is to provide a forum for discussion on tourism development, ports, safety, security and other cruise industry issues.