For years, different interests have wrestled with ways to monetise the history of Port Royal as a premier sightseeing destination without harming its archaeological treasures.
Now, the Port Authority of Jamaica is about to take a stab at flooding the seaside township with tourists through investment in a floating platform for cruise ships, as an alternative to dredging the harbour to accommodate the docking of vessels.
Port Authority President and CEO Professor Gordon Shirley said Tuesday that the agency is acquiring a unique floating pier technology, SeaWalk, which it expects to implement in Port Royal by the first quarter of 2019. It will open a new cruise gateway to the ancient city and Kingston itself, creating a new tourist attraction in eastern Jamaica, he told the Financial Gleaner.
The agency is investing US$8 million, or J$1 billion, in the floating pier.
A day earlier, the Ministry of Tourism announced it was in discussions with AIDA Cruises, which is based in Germany, to position the historic Port Royal community, once a pirate haunt, as a viable cruise option. AIDA is operated by Carnival cruise line.
Both state entities have different portfolio responsibilities for the cruise sector – the tourism ministry to bring visitors to Jamaica, and the Port Authority to develop and manage cruise infrastructure.