On Tuesday March 22, the town of Falmouth welcomed the world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis of the Seas’. The highly anticipated ship has a combined carrying capacity of over 9000 passengers and crew.
As was the case with the historic ‘Voyager of the Seas’, the first cruise ship that docked in the Falmouth Harbour on February 17, 2011 and the ships which followed, the visitors aboard the ‘Oasis of The Seas’ were exposed to the “Falmouth Experience”, which incorporated Jamaican entertainment, art, craft, exquisite cuisine and cultural performances.
Cruise ship arrivals have already begun to enhance the economy of Falmouth and is expected to have wider national impact. According to Lenworth Tracey, Deputy General Manager, Economic Development and Corporate Relations, at the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), “Falmouth is fast taking its place as a key link in the build out of the tourist product offering of Jamaica and will be a solid complement to the existing port facilities in Ocho Rios and Montego Bay.” He noted that this augers well for Jamaica’s competitiveness in the lucrative cruise shipping industry.
“The people of Falmouth are already reaping returns. From hotel owners to fruit vendors, both large and micro businesses are benefiting directly and indirectly from increased commercial activity and employment.” said Mr. Tracey.
He further added that in an attempt to ensure that development happens in a sustainable way, specialized training programmes have been fashioned by organizations such as Heart Trust NTA and the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCO) to guide and enhance the offerings of business and service providers to ensure the visitors enjoy a first rate product.
Continuing Mr Tracey pointed out that these are early days yet and the full impact of the economic benefits to be had from the port development will come over time. “The onus is on the residents of the town to ensure that the Falmouth Experience continues to be positive for our visitors, as that is what will determine the attractiveness of the area to increased investments and growth over the medium to long term” he said. He further stated ‘The UDC and other collaborating partners have started the process, but as we continue to provide urban planning support, the mantle will be passed to the private sector and residents of Falmouth who will determine their own economic future.”
Plans to facilitate the development of the historic town started last year when the 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 and the Trelawny Parish Council 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, improved traffic management arrangements, sensitization and training programmes through the Social Development Commission, the Tourism Product Development Company and the Heart Trust NTA.
The port development is being undertaken by the Ports Authority of Jamaica and Royal Caribbean Cruise Limited. 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.