Jamaica expects its multi-million dollar Falmouth cruise port to be open by October, with the first call from Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas expected in November. Government officials told Cruise Industry News the surrounding town, which is being developed by both Jamaica and Royal Caribbean, is expected to be completed within the next five years. It is unclear whether any ships besides the Oasis under the Royal Caribbean corporate umbrella will visit Falmouth, but port officials said it was under consideration.

With the addition of Falmouth, Jamaica adds a third port for cruise calls. Falmouth joints Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, where a new shopping center is under construction.

Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett commented: “Cruise tourism has been very strong and a main stay of our country. We’ll have a new experience in 2010 with the Oasis of the Seas which will mean more investment for the island. When thousands of people get off there need to be places to go and things to do. Arrivals will drive demand that needs to be supplied by other industries which will create more employment.”

Jamaican officials were also thrilled at tourism growth numbers for the island, noting that they experienced 4.5 percent growth in 2009 compared to 2008. By comparison, officials went onto note that projections had global tourism down between 7 and 8 percent and Caribbean tourism down 3 percent.

Moreover Jamaica is seeing increased airlift from US carriers, with Air Tran set to add some 18 flights weekly starting in Q1 with daily service from Atlanta and Baltimore and with service four times a week from Orlando. Other operators include Air Jamaica, JetBlue, American Airlines, Delta and USAir, who recently added non-stop service from Phoenix.

“We needed to move fast to create more access to Jamaica,” said John Lynch director of tourism, Jamaica Tourist Board. “America is a big place and there are people with money in places like Iowa and Grand Rapids, Michigan. We created access to Jamaica that is unprecedented.” 

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