Tourism threat

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With a score of murders barely three months into the year, with one of today occurring at the country’s most popular mall, tourism industry figures have told Barbados TODAY of deep concern over the impact of crime on the nation’s bread-and-butter trade.

Delivering the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association’s report for the first quarter of 2019, BHTA chief executive officer Senator Rudy Grant noted that while destination Barbados was still considered safe, the recent spate of murders needed to be urgently addressed.

Senator Grant told fellow hotel and tourism executives during the BHTA’s quarterly meeting at Hilton Hotel this morning: “The continuing serious crimes particularly those related to murder are of concern to the BHTA. While it is acknowledged that Barbados is still considered a safe destination, all actions must be undertaken to control the issue of serious crimes which in recent months are more frequent.”

He stressed that safety and security continue to be an important element of the island’s tourism brand.

The BHTA head said: “Barbados as a tourism destination is considered safe where visitors have the ability to comfortably explore our island and interact with Barbadians and are exposed to our warmth, friendliness and true Bajan hospitality. Escalating criminal activity can jeopardize and railroad all the gains which Barbados has made as a tourism destination. It is critical that all efforts are undertaken to ensure that Barbados continues to be safe for both locals and visitors.”

But Grant declared that the BHTA was not sitting by idly but instead doing what it could to help the police fight crime. He revealed several initiatives including surveillance technology and increased police presence, which he believes should beef up security in key tourist areas.

Senator Grant announced: “In January this year, the BHTA provided sponsorship for the purchase and installation of CCTV cameras on the west coast. This was a further commitment to assist the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) with equipment and was the continuation of similar sponsorship for the purchase and installation of cameras on the south coast and elsewhere.”

“There have been continued collaboration between the BHTA and the RBPF on other areas related to crime as well as safety and security. Specific collaboration has been undertaken on the south coast particularly in the areas of St. Lawrence Gap and Dover. Our members have reported increased police presence in this area.”

Barbados had already begun to feel the impact of crime on

tourism when, earlier this month, the US Bureau of Consular Affairs issued an advisory to urge citizens not to visit Crab Hill, Ivy, Nelson Street, Wellington Street or Maxwell Coast Road. A local entertainment establishment was also listed on the areas that should be avoided.

The notice went on to advise “increased caution” for the St Michael areas of Black Rock, Deacons, Carrington Village, Greenfields, New Orleans and The Pine.

The notice, which has caused quite a stir on social media, was dismissed by Attorney General Dale Marshall, as much ado about nothing.

The Attorney General explained that the US issues travel advisories for each country as a matter of course, and in fact Barbados still enjoys the the US Government’s lowest risk assessment. The advisory went viral on social media, prompting the Attorney General to seek to assure Barbadians that the country’s stellar safety record was not in jeopardy.

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