This paper seeks to identify and discuss the development of the tourism industry in Port Antonio, Jamaica. Information was gathered using various sources. A visit was made to Port Antonio in order to better understand how tourism was practiced in this resort area, both residents and visitors were interviewed to get a feel of what was going on in that area and internet sources were also used.
Tourism is the travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. (answers.com), it is the operation of vacations and visits to places of interest.
The tourism industry consists of business aspects such as accommodations, transportation and facilities for dining, shopping and entertainment to cater to a travellers’ experience. (Pileus Project)
History of Tourism in Port Antonio
In 1723, Portland was officially known and recognized as parish which was named after a former Governor of Jamaica. The existing port was to be called Port Antonio and was slated to become a naval stronghold. In 1729, the British built Fort George on a peninsula disjoining the twin west and east harbors known as the Ticthfield promontory. The fort was developed intended to protect in landers from attacks from the Spaniards and the Maroons. (Pieces of the past, 2002)
A peace treaty was signed between The Maroons and the British in 1739 which led to a new era in the development of Portland. The parish then became populated with settlers thus the cultivation of sugar begun. (Pieces of the past, 2002)
With the development of the banana industry, Portland’s fortunes improved in the late 19th century. The type of soil provided in Portland and addition to its heavy rainfall suited the cultivation of banana that provided any social class farmer to make of profit of this industry. Banana is a type or crop that grows rapidly and can be reaped in one year time. (Pieces of the past, 2002)
Lorenzo Dow Baker is the man who was single-handedly responsible for the exportation of banana in the 1870s. During this period Jamaica’s production of sugar was decreasing and in the blink of an eye, their protected market was finished. Therefore a new crop for export was needed and that was where Baker came in to play. (Pieces of the past, 2002) In 1688, a well-known botanist by the name of Sir Hans Sloane, founder of the British Museum jotted the existence of bananas in Jamaica. (Pieces of the past, 2002)
Baker inspired Jamaicans to cultivate banana with the challenge, “the first man who has ten acre of bananas will be rich!” His bananas were then sold for almost US$3 each in Boston. In 1879 Lorenzo Baker became the advocate for a new shipping company that allowed him to increase his transportation of bananas. (Pieces of the past, 2002)
Lorenzo Baker began using his steam engines to transport tourists and bananas which was the only mean of travelling to and from Jamaica to other countries in those times. As visits to Jamaica increased, in the 1900s Mr. Baker created the astonishing Titchfield Hotel located on Titchfield Hill that quickly became popularized with tourist thus causing Portland to become the place where Tourism first started in Jamaica. The hotel became recognized for its afternoon tea on the piazza and cleansing in bath houses. The hotel was once claimed to be owned by Errol Flynn, a famous swashbuckler. Errol had died before further developing the attraction. The hotel was destroyed by a fire in the 1960s so currently, only the remains of this historic landmark still stands. (Pieces of the past, 2002)
In 1903, Portland experienced a calamitous hurricane that demolished fields of banana.In 1929, Farmers of Banana assembled and formed the Jamaica Banana Producers Association. Members of this association operated as one to secure their independence, position and controk in the Trade from other huge competitors. With assistance from the government, few years along, the Jamaica Producers Association was handling an abundant portion of the trade and by operating their own shipping company. In 1936 the Association became a privatized but is still operated by banana farmers. (Pieces of the past, 2002)
The banana industry drastically increased with three hundred and fifty-five thousand tonnes of export in 1936 but few years down the line it died. Currently, the Jamaica Producers Group of Companies with the assistance of All Island Banana Growers Association continues to cater to the interests of the island’s farmers of bananas. (Pieces of the past, 2002)
Types of Tourism practiced in Port Antonio
Impacts of Tourism in Port Antonio
Tourism has often flourished in this parish. Because of its natural attractions, any expansion into this sensitive area might damage the environment. Port Antonio is highly dependent on its natural resources from which it generates its income. In this parish’s present state, the landforms and water bodies caters to the habitats for many plants and animals; however there is need to develop proper resource management systems relevant to the influx of tourist. When it rains it gives lush vegetation but also leads to drainage problems to tourist areas. (Mcintosh)
Port Antonio offers an enchanting vacation experience even though it’s still in need of proper infrastructure. Hurricane Sandy has cause severe damage to the environment in Portland but with help from the government Port Antonio has managed to get back on its feet. Other environmental impacts include: pollution, harassment to visitors, air and noise pollution and deforestation.
The culture and the local population’s values are respected as well as the community’s identity. There are several historical monuments there which they are trying to preserve. One of the more important social aspect is the improvement in the services and facilities, bays, parks, transport, etc. On the negative side, the residents have become servants of the tourist and this has created resentment towards the visitors and appears areas of social tension.
Because tourism involves travelling from one destination to another, tourists will come across meeting new individuals of different cultures and as a result, cultural controversies may sometime occur between persons of different religion, ethnic group or more. More so, the attitude towards tourists by local residence may fluctuate. Residents may start of welcoming to the visitors but then develop certain resentment towards them. (Coast learn)
This speaks to factors such as employment, income, interest rate, productivity and wealth.
Current development in the travel and tourism trade reinforces trends towards a more cheap and flexible employment conditions. Children are sometimes recruited for such jobs, because they are cheap and flexible employees (Coast learn)
All involving member (the citizens, the tourism industry and the visitors) have invested interest in the management of the environmental resource base and a duty to do their part to support this management. If the environment is degraded all parties stand to lose – visitors will fail to come (or will be willing to pay less) and the countries will lose an important source of economic benefit. In other words the environment will produce reduced economic, ecological, and amenity benefits. (Edwards, 2009)
Role of tourism centers
A tourism information centre is an organizational structure where workers assist tourists, locally and internationally with the bookings of accommodations, sightseeing and transportation services. (Hayward, Marvell, Reynolds, & Stewart, 2005) The Jamaica Tourist Board, established in 1955 has on three branches located across the island (Kingston, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios). The role of the Jamaica Tourist Board is to market and endorse Jamaica as a destination. (Jamaica Tourist Board)
Currently there are no tourism boards or centers located in Port Antonio according to a representative working at the Jamaica Tourist Board Information Centre, but I do believe there is a need for one in that particular vicinity and every parish to be exact being as how they operate as a guide for servicing tourists who may want to explore the area. Tourists are going to need information of attractions that suit their interest to visit and how to get there. Therefore, the development of one would be most convenient for them.
Modes of transportations
Port Antonio is accessible by land, air and sea but the most favorable mode is by land. There’s a transportation center that extends along the waterfront where buses and taxis leave regularly, transports from the airport to this area is offered by JUTA.
Ken Jones Airdrome which is situated 9km west of Port Antonio, currently receives private aircrafts and chartered flights of International Airlink and TimAir only. It is mostly the upper class accommodations that offer transports to and from the airdrome to their clients. (Lonely planet)
The Errol Flynn Marina, accessible by sea, offers customs clearance for private vessels (Lonely planet). This marina is also being used by the coast guards of a nearby police station.
Support Services in Port Antonio
Tourism is a very important part of Jamaica’s economy. People from all over the world travel to Jamaica for holiday yearly to experience the island’s pleasant climate, year round sunshine, the lovely white sand beaches and beautiful landscapes.
Port Antonio is a major resort area in the country of Jamaica. Many might not know that tourism was mainly started in this area and is still a main resort where tourist from all over the globe wants to experience. Port Antonio, which is the capital of Portland, has all the necessary support services to facilitate tourism. The area has many attractions, adequate transportation for tourist travel and many restaurants that tourist would like to feast at. The area also provides exquisite accommodation for tourist stay. One of the hotels located in Port Antonio is the Goblin Hill Villas. This resort is a very wonderful and pleasant place for tourist. Many tourists, when visiting Jamaica and desire to stay in Port Antonio, make reservations to stay at the Goblin Hill Villas. The resort offers many facilities to influence tourist stay. One of these facilities includes: a white sand beach protected by a coral reef, perfect for snorkeling. It was said by a visitor to the hotel, on trip advisor, that “beautiful property, full of character”.
Most tourist visit Jamaica to experience the wonderful attractions, do Jamaican activities or just to live the Jamaican lifestyle that they hear about. In Port Antonio there are many attractions and activities that tourist would love to experience for themselves. Most tourists, when visiting this resort area in Jamaica, make it a duty to have the experience of rafting the Rio Grande River. Rafting on the Rio Grande River was supposedly started by the legendary Hollywood star, Errol Flynn, to entertain his guest. Rafting on the Rio Grande is safe, and is done by a skilled, licensed raft captain. While tourists are on their rafting adventure on the Rio Grande River, they will pass through lover’s lane; this is also a tourist favorite. Rio Grande rafting provides some of the most beautiful views in Jamaica and on your 3 hour, 6 mile adventure; you will surely grasp knowledge of the wonderful island of Jamaica.
Another favorite attraction of tourist who visits the Port Antonio resort area is the Boston bay beach. Boston bay beach is famous throughout Jamaica and even the world, but not for its white pearly sand, nor for its clear and beautiful water, but mainly for the food. Boston bay is said to be the place where jerk food was originated from. When tourist are in the resort area of Port Antonio and are hungry for some tasty jerk food, this would be the place they rather to go. Boston bay hosts the Portland jerk festival once a year. Boston bay beach is also said to be a well known surf spot, maybe even be the best in Jamaica.
The blue lagoon is the next major attraction in the resort area of Port Antonio. The blue lagoon is a natural lagoon, located seven miles east of Port Antonio. The lagoon was thought of to be bottomless, but divers have discovered that it is 180 feet in depth. Tourist from all over will try to visit the blue lagoon to see the beauty of the lagoon or just to take a swim in it. The most attractive feature of the lagoon is its mysterious blue colour, which changes throughout the day, depending on where the sun is. If you spend a day on the blue lagoon, you will see a colour change of turquoise to sapphire. The Blue hole was the original name of the site, but because of the filming of the move Blue Lagoon, the name was then changed. The blue lagoon has attracted many tourists from all over the world visiting Jamaica. No matter which resort area tourist stays, they tend to want to make a trip to the Blue Lagoon.
Great huts in another pleasing hotel in the resort area of Port Antonio. It is located in boston bay, near to the boston bay beach. Great huts villa is actually different from most hotels. Instead of the normal modern, everyday hotel rooms, great hut gives to the tourists huts that are very comfortable and looks very antique. There are now windows in the rooms at Great huts, the rooms are just open to nature. Staying at Great huts villa, you will also get a beautiful view of the ocean, just outside your window is the boston bay beach. Great huts villa provide facilities such as a swimming pool, a library and laundry facilities etc. amenities include: in-room massage, housekeeping, arrange of wedding services, catering etc. Great huts villa is the right place for you, if you want something different and away from the normal tourist destinations.
Port Antonio provides adequate transportation services to facilitate tourism in the area. One such means of transportation is car rentals. Most travelers will rent a vehicle before they arrive in Port Antonio, to make their travel easier and more comfortable. It is easier to get through Port Antonio than other resort areas such as Montego Bay and Ocho Rios.
Another means of transportation that is carried out in Port Antonio is the taxi services. Not as many taxis are in Port Antonio as the other resort areas, but this is still the most popular mode of transportation for visitors. Taxi rates in this resort area are done by car, not by passenger. Fares would be as low as US $5-7 for 10 miles, so a tourist must agree to a set price by the taxi driver, before vehicle moves off to the required destination.
Bus service is another popular means of transportation that is provided in Port Antonio. This means of transportation can be tiring, slow and crowded. Majority of the buses doesn’t contain air conditioning and this could be a turnoff for tourist who chose this means of travel. Bus fare is about US $1 for 30-40 miles.
This means of transportation is mainly used by tourist to explore and get familiar with the area and its attractions. Guided canopy tours will be provided for travellers of all ages and fitness levels. The tours will carry visitors to historic locations in the vicinity such as Mooretown, working banana plantations and local waterfalls.
There are many restaurants in the resort area of Port Antonio that tourist like to go, but according to trip advisor, a place called Bush Bar is the number one restaurant, ranked by tourists. The Bush Bar restaurant is located at the Geejam hotel. They serve an assortment of continental and Jamaican cuisines. The restaurant also has a beautiful view of the ocean in Port Antonio.
Another famous restaurant in the area is the Juicy Beef Patties. Tourists love to eat patties and the Juicy Beef Patty restaurant would be the perfect restaurant for patty lovers on vacation in the resort area of Port Antonio. The Juicy Beef Patty restaurant is ranked number three on trip advisor for restaurants in the resort area of Port Antonio.
Marketing of Port Antonio
Port Antonio is marketed through a well-known travelling website created by the Jamaica Tourist Board where they promote the area through extravagant photographs and videos. They provide potential travelers with access to brief descriptions of the vicinity as well as a list of various products and services available within the area such attractions, accommodations, restaurants, activities and events to capture the tourist’s interest. (JTB Information Portal)
Based on what we have seen, heard and read we can safely say that Port Antonio is one of the best resort area in Jamaica. It is all reserved, natural and rich in history. The only thing left for potential tourists to do is to go and experience it for themselves.