Daily Observer (Jamaica)

Pay at­ten­tion to home-port­ing, cruise in­dus­try of­fi­cials urged

- BY ALI­CIA DUNKLEY-WIL­LIS SENIOR Staff reporter Cruises · Travel · Jamaica · Tours · Montego Bay · Ocho Rios · University of the West · West Indies · KPMG Corporate Finance · Port Antonio · Falmouth · Port Royal · Corporate spin-off

With no clear time­line for cruise oper­a­tions to start again, key in­dus­try play­ers say Ja­maica should, among other things, pay more at­ten­tion to home-port­ing ar­range­ments given its dis­tinct advantage of hav­ing the most cruise ports in the English-speak­ing Caribbean.

Home-port­ing is when a ship uses a port/ma­rine ter­mi­nal as its home, re­gard­less of its port of reg­istry. This al­lows pas­sen­gers to be­gin/ter­mi­nate a cruise in the home port and pos­i­tively im­pacts ground trans­porta­tion and tours. Pas­sen­gers may also fly into the is­land to board ves­sels. Ja­maicans book­ing cruises on home-ported ships will also have the advantage of board­ing here as op­posed to fly­ing to an­other lo­ca­tion to do so.

“Home-port­ing is some­thing we need to ex­am­ine very care­fully. When you have home-port­ing if you look at the goods and ser­vices trans­ported from else­where to go on­board the ves­sels, you would be shocked to re­alise that there are some ba­nanas and pa­paya that are less than our stan­dards, those things in my view were sub­stan­dard and I think our des­ti­na­tion could pro­vide those things right at the port where they are home-port­ing,” Dr Lee Bailey, CEO of Caribbean Cruise Ship­ping and Tours Lim­ited and a di­rec­tor of the Ja­maica Cruise Coun­cil, told an on­line pub­lic fo­rum hosted by the Mona School of Business and Man­age­ment on cruise ship­ping and tourism in the Caribbean Wed­nes­day night.

Dr Bailey, who said there were op­por­tu­ni­ties for im­me­di­ate ac­tion and post-pan­demic ex­e­cu­tion, said of the is­land’s five cruise port fa­cil­i­ties, three are most suited for home-port­ing.

Port An­to­nio can only take bou­tique ships, large lux­ury yachts and has a lim­ited car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity but can also han­dle turn­around ships and home-port­ing apart from one dis­ad­van­tage, its dis­tance from the air­port. The Fal­mouth pier is cur­rently the largest cruise fa­cil­ity in the is­land, which can carry all kinds of ships, has a mas­sive car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity and can also han­dle turn­around ships and home-port­ing as well as reg­u­lar cruise calls.

The Mon­tego Bay pier has been han­dling most of the turn­arounds and can also han­dle reg­u­lar cruise calls pri­mar­ily be­cause of its prox­im­ity to the air­port and has been han­dling most of the home-port­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. The Ocho Rios pier can also han­dle all the large ves­sels but has one slight dis­ad­van­tage as far as home-port­ing and turn­around is con­cerned, it is a fin­ger pier and there­fore large trucks and trailers can­not go to the ship to trans­port goods and ser­vices. As for the Port Royal pier, which re­cently came on board and is per­haps one of the most notable des­ti­na­tions in the his­tory of the Caribbean, it is a fin­ger pier and is not ca­pa­ble of han­dling home-port­ing or turn­around ac­tiv­i­ties but it is ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing at least one large ship.

“We have to look at our in­no­va­tions and new ideas be­cause find­ings from re­search con­ducted (by me and oth­ers) is that we could max­imise the use of our port fa­cil­i­ties if cur­rent cruise calls to Ja­maica could be dou­bled or tripled mean­ing you call at sev­eral ports be­fore leav­ing Ja­maica. If that could be in­tro­duced to the cruise lines that would cause other ben­e­fits to com­mu­ni­ties in a sin­gle call from a sin­gle cruise ship,” Dr Bailey ar­gued.

“For years we have been go­ing to the cruise lines and say­ing let us see what you have, we have not ever gone to the cruise lines with a bunch of of­fer­ing, sup­plies and so on and say we can of­fer you this. I agree with the min­is­ter of tourism when he says we need to look at the sup­ply chain on how long be­fore the in­dus­try re­bounds. I am quite sure the cruise lines will work out a way of han­dling the dis­tanc­ing on­board; if they are do­ing those things and spend­ing a lot of money we must match those ef­forts,” he said fur­ther.

In the mean­time, he said Ja­maicans must do all in their power to help con­tain the virus.

“The virus is not go­ing any­where any­time soon, we hu­man be­ings are the hosts for the virus and un­less we get se­ri­ous and un­der­stand that we have to pro­tect our­selves we are go­ing to suf­fer for it be­cause they may not even come be­cause we are now at 6,000 cases by Christ­mas if we are not care­ful we may be at 20 or 30,000 so they may not even want to come here.

“So we must look right in our spa­ces, what are we go­ing to do to make sure we are in the po­si­tion to take these ves­sels once they make a de­ci­sion?” he asked.

In the mean­time, Dr Michelle Mcleod, tourism ex­pert and mem­ber of The Univer­sity of the West Indies COVID-19 task force, and tourism lec­turer, said with the Caribbean ac­count­ing for 35 per cent of the global in­dus­try it was clear that the re­gion is a crit­i­cal player.

“I am not aware of any other in­dus­try where the Caribbean would have such a sig­nif­i­cant share of the mar­ket...there are op­por­tu­ni­ties, if you have empty cruise ships, these can be­come tourist at­trac­tions. Home-port­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties have been thought about by sev­eral coun­tries across the re­gion but I am yet to see where Caribbean gov­ern­ments have come to­gether and de­vel­oped a home-port­ing pol­icy for the re­gion that would mean the spin-off of var­i­ous industries, man­u­fac­tur­ing and agri­cul­ture could ben­e­fit,” she pointed out.

A 2017/18 study in­di­cated that the to­tal cruise tourism ex­pen­di­ture for Ja­maica was US$244.53 mil­lion, gen­er­at­ing to­tal em­ploy­ment of 8,293 and to­tal wage in­come US$56.57 mil­lion. In 2019 the re­gion re­ceived an es­ti­mated 28,941,888 cruise vis­i­tors, an in­crease of 3.5 per cent when com­pared to the same pe­riod in 2018.

Last Wed­nes­day, Julie-anne Bur­rowes, cruise ad­vi­sor with Caribbean Vil­lage, said the halt in cruis­ing has set the stage for a long-over­due dis­cus­sion on the so­cial, en­vi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic im­pli­ca­tions of cruise tourism.

“We are at a re­ally good junc­ture to ask the ques­tion, should we be look­ing at a re­sump­tion of business as usual at any cost or is now the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate a more sus­tain­able model of re­gional cruise tourism?

“I think the pan­demic has given us the op­por­tu­nity to make fun­da­men­tal changes in terms of how we vi­sion ap­proach and man­age the cruise tourism sec­tor within the re­gion and that ab­sence of cruise tourism, and tourism in gen­eral has forced us to con­sider ar­eas in which we must di­ver­sify,” she said in bat­ting for re­gional part­ner­ship ar­range­ments. She fur­ther said or­gan­ised tours might be the way of the fu­ture in the wake of the pan­demic given that con­trolled en­vi­ron­ments are a key fac­tor in stem­ming the spread of the virus.

In re­cent years Ja­maica has been en­gaged in home-port­ing ar­range­ments with a num­ber of ves­sels be­ing ac­com­mo­dated at the Mon­tego Bay port.

Ac­cord­ing to a July as­sess­ment by au­dit firm KPMG, many crew mem­bers are still on ves­sels across the world, ei­ther quar­an­tin­ing or man­ning the ship un­til the in­dus­try re­sumes oper­a­tions. It said the cur­rent COVID-19 en­vi­ron­ment had cre­ated a high de­gree of con­cern amongst the pub­lic sur­round­ing the main­te­nance of health and safety on­board cruise ships.

Ships will now re­quire ro­bust screen­ing and mon­i­tor­ing pro­to­cols, im­ple­men­ta­tion of com­pre­hen­sive san­i­ta­tion prac­tices with reg­u­lar in­spec­tions, ex­panded on­board med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties and in­creased med­i­cal staff. Also, cruise lin­ers will be ex­pected to work more closely with pub­lic health au­thor­i­ties world­wide and CLIA (Cruise Lines In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion) to en­force health re­quire­ments.

 ??  ?? BAILEY... home-port­ing is some­thing we need to ex­am­ine very care­fully
BAILEY... home-port­ing is some­thing we need to ex­am­ine very care­fully
 ??  ?? The Royal Caribbean cruise liner Em­press of the Seas
The Royal Caribbean cruise liner Em­press of the Seas

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