On Thursday, February 17, history was created in Falmouth, Trelawny, when the Royal Caribbean’s cruise ship Voyager of the Seas, took over 4000 visitors to Jamaica on its maiden voyage into the Falmouth harbour.
The visitors were welcomed to the island amidst much jubilation and were greeted by Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Olivia Babsy Grange and other Government officials.
Speaking at the event, Minister Bartlett said “This is the culmination of months of planning. I think that today is a good day and it is really wonderful to see this huge vessel with over 4000 people docking in historic Falmouth. This is indeed a red letter day for Falmouth and cruise tourism in Jamaica”.
Minister Grange said “I am really very excited, I am elated, I am overjoyed. Finally this has become a reality and the visitors are just overwhelmed”. She further added “This time we are doing it right. We are ensuring that the people buy into the vision and the local people are a part of the experience.”
Minister Bartlett also used the opportunity to share his vision for the town. “I see the town of Falmouth really taking off. Every town needs a catalyst to drive ecomonic activities and to generate jobs. This port is the hook that Falmouth now has. I can see investment emerging in terms of more products, facilities and experiences that will be created by creative minds for the benefit of tourists and locals alike.
The historic visit of the first cruise ship to the town of Falmouth warranted preparation of a special and memorable experience that would ensure return visits, thus the birth of the Falmouth Experience. As a result a special mix of entertainment, food and cultural presentations was made available to visitors. Other cruise ships are scheduled to make weekly stops in the town ahead of the world's largest cruise ship, 'Oasis of the Seas' which is scheduled to make its inaugural stop on March 22.
Plans to facilitate the development of the historic town started last year when the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) was mandated by Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Hon. Bruce Golding to spearhead and adopt a multi-agency collaborative approach to redevelop the area. As a result, the Corporation was entrusted with the responsibility of coordinating and implementing the Greater Falmouth Redevelopment Plan 2010-2030. This plan will facilitate the orderly development of the area focusing on the management of land use, allocation for residential, commercial, industrial, resort, institutional, recreational, agricultural and conservation purposes.
As part of this plan, the UDC collaborated with stakeholders including residents of Falmouth and surrounding towns, business and political groups, civic and religious groups to coordinate the upgrading of the town ahead of the arrival of the first ship on February 17, 2011. The partnership resulted in the beautification of the town and improvement of traffic management as well as the sensitization and training of residents through the Social Development Commission, the Tourism Product Development Company and the Heart Trust NTA, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and the Port Authority of Jamaica however, are jointly responsible for construction of the Falmouth Cruise Shipping Pier.
On completion of this project, Falmouth will become the country’s first ever thematic port destination, incorporating the charm of Georgian architecture which characterizes the streetscapes of old Falmouth.