Jamaica Tourism Minister, Hon Edmund Bartlett says his Ministry has set a January 2019 target, to roll out new policy arrangements, which will lead to the resumption of Jet Ski activities in the country.
Speaking yesterday at a Jet Ski Taskforce meeting, at the Ministry of Tourism’s New Kingston Office, the Minister said, “I believe that we are now at a point where we can make a cabinet submission in relation to a policy for the water-sport industry in Jamaica.
We are in a position now where we can look at the necessary infrastructure and how we can resource these infrastructure requirements to enable the proper execution of the policy.”
The tabled document will address and provide a framework for the management of all water sports in Jamaica and facilitate the lift on an island-wide suspension of all commercial Personal Water Crafts (PWCs) operations and the ban on the importation of PWCs into the island.
The Ministry of Tourism has now finalised the policy for water-sport and the cabinet submission has been prepared. Once tabled, the Ministry will then engage stakeholders with further consultations, so that this policy can become a White Paper.
“We are committed to working with small players in the industry, to determine launch sites, which we are looking to have in Ocho Rios and Negril. We started, but did not get very far because of commercial activities, which intervened, but we are continuing the process. We will do this within the next three months, so that all stakeholders will have equal access and enable us to manage and monitor the process in a better way,” said the Minister.
The measures were applied in the wake of a number of accidents involving PWCs across the island. Some of these accidents resulted in fatalities, serious injuries, and damage to vessels.
“It would be wonderful to say that we are going to re-engage this activity within the next 12 weeks, but the reality is, there are bits of legislative arrangements that still have to come together. In particular, the maritime authority has some tweaking to do,” said the Minister.
He also noted that the Task Force, which was established to bring PWC activity under stronger management and enforcement, will continue to work together to meet their targets.
The PWC Task Force was set up by the Ministry of Tourism to establish measures to safeguard the water-sports subsector. It includes Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), the Maritime Authority of Jamaica, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the Marine Police Division, JDF Coast Guards, the Jamaica Customs Agency, and the Port Authority of Jamaica.
“The bigger issue was the need for a revised architecture to enable this very important element of the attractions of the industry to be able to operate in a seamless, safe and secure way. It has taken some time, because a lot of detailed work has to be done and a careful determination in terms of how we re-engage. But more so, to build out the infrastructure that will secure the operations and enable all participants to be able to operate seamlessly,” he said.