Falmouth Not Reaping Full Economic Benefits From Cruise Ship Pier
Falmouth Not Reaping Full Economic Benefits From The Pier
July 17th will mark exactly 5 months since the first cruise ship (Voyager of the Seas) docked in Falmouth Jamaica. Since then, Falmouth has surpassed Ocho Rios as the number one cruise shipping port in Jamaica. According to the Royal Caribbean Blog: “From February to April 2011, the Falmouth pier has had almost 100,000 passengers and 34,650 crew pass through which in turn has generated roughly US$8.7 million in passenger expenditure.”
This rapid growth in arrivals it attributed to the Genesis class ships Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas that each week carry some 6000 passengers and 2000 crew. The Mayor and Member of Parliament were basking in the success of the Falmouth port as we all are.
The Mayor is quoted in a Gleaner article as saying: “Business is thriving and new employment opportunities are opening up. The town is now opened up to the world, and I am just absolutely delighted about it.
The MP, Dr EV Patrick Harris in the same article said: “With each visitor spending approximately US$120 and between 6,000 and 10,000 visitors coming here each week, that is a whole lot of new money coming into this town.”
Unfortunately, Dr. Harris did not state how much money was being spent in the town/parish itself. As a result of the popularity of this website FalmouthPO.com, many of the local business people stop me quite regularly on the road complaining that ‘nutten naw gwaan’ which in English literally means ‘nothing is happening.’ Most of these people are the common folk such as small business owners and craft vendors.
Something is happening that is keeping the tourists out of the town. I don’t know if they are deliberately staying away or there are not enough attractions. It seems the ‘Historic Falmouth’ product is not selling, but there are only a few tourists in town on ship days. Most of the cruise ship visitors that arrive in Falmouth are skirted away on tours outside the town. Not much of that estimated US8.7 million was spent in Falmouth.
Even when the Oasis or the Allure comes in town, there is not much of that 6000 to be seen. In fact, the regular question I am asked is: “where are the tourists?” Along with the question comes complaints from vendors about the little or nothing they made for the entire day.
I am a small businessman and speaking to other business owners, it is the same response. There is no sustained increase in economic activity. In the weeks following the arrival of the first ship, everything was looking good as thousands of local Jamaicans flocked to the town on ship days. Local confidence was booming and things were looking great. We recognized from then that most of the spenders were local Jamaicans. Now the local crowds no longer arrive on ship days, the visitors are not stopping off in Falmouth and if they do, they are not spending much.
Right now the vendors feel dejected as according to them, they are not making any money, plus the Trelawny Parish Council appears to be cutting back on their budget and are no longer providing tents for the vendors. I always thought the tents were a luxury, though. The parish council is offering an opportunity for the vendors to earn from selling on the street, plus providing tents under which to display their goods. What a deal! Personally, I think they were lucky to have had the free tents in the first place.
Anyway, in order for Falmouth to really benefit from the pier, the real challenge for the local politicians is how to make more cruise ship visitors stop over in the town. This includes dealing with the problem of security. There has been a few isolated incidents that should never be allowed to happen again.
Apart from that, they should have published an official information website, specifically made for prospective visitors to the town, highlighting the attractions and things to do in Falmouth so the town itself would be properly promoted.
Anyway, contrary to the official releases of how much money is being spent, Falmouth is still not reaping the economic benefits from the cruise ship pier. For the ‘small man,’ the first photo in this article says it all….’nutten naw gwaan.’ Surely, there are more benefits from having a world class cruise shipping pier in our town than we have seen so far.