Regional

National Security Minister assures tourism stakeholders of visitor safety

BY HORACE HINES
Observer West reporter

Thursday, January 10, 2019

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ROSE HALL, St James — Security Minister Dr Horace Chang has given assurance to the leadership of the tourism industry that strategies are being devised which will, among other things, prevent incidents of crime committed against visitors to Jamaica.

“It's a very sensitive industry, we appreciate that fact, so we have to take steps to ensure we prevent...there is a good old Jamaican saying 'prevention is better than cure' and I think from a security point of view, tourism is one in which it is applicable. We have to prevent the incidents from happening,” Dr Chang stressed.

“Even if we give them (police) all the infrastructure, technology and support required to investigate and convict the criminals, what we don't want is to convict a criminal for crime against anyone of our visitors because once the crime is committed the impact will be there to come. So, our objective is prevention.”

He, however, conceded that the crime policy being developed to execute prevention will not be foolproof, but he is hopeful that it will be watertight as far as tourism is concerned.

“What we will assure you is that what we are putting in place will be able to take care of those that slip through the cracks, but we don't want any slipping through the cracks where tourism is concerned,” he stressed.

The security minister, who is also Member of Parliament for St James North Western, was thankful that so far reports of crimes committed against visitors have been minimal.

“What is true is that in terms of the safety of our visitors the country has a very enviable record. For the many years that tourism is in Jamaica, we have had very little in terms of any personal threats to our visitors. In fact, one of the remarkable events is that even in communities in Jamaica which are considered challenged, you have visitors walking through on a regular basis and staying there,” Dr Chang declared.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett concurred that incidents of infractions against visitors to the island is minimal, but stressed the importance of perception.

“So low (infractions against tourism), in fact, enviously low. At .01 per cent of all the infractions against people in general falling in tourism, is something that we can be proud of. But, the objective is not to have .01 per cent, the objective is to have zero per cent. The objective is to ensure a pristine, clear and clean destination. So, whenever there are statements, either allegations or indeed factual, our job is to jump on it immediately and to deal with it, and to clear the air because what hurts tourism and a destination more than anything else is perception,” Bartlett stated.

Both Cabinet members were speaking at the Tourism Safety and Security Forum, held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall on Monday.

Also in attendance were international security expert Dr Peter Tarlow and leaders in the tourism sector.

Dr Chang revealed at the forum that the budgetary allocation to his ministry during the upcoming fiscal year will be increased.

“The country is prepared to invest in our security to ensure that we provide safety and security not only to those on the ground, but to protect our borders. We are putting a lot of resources there. It is proven to be very expensive but we realise that securing Jamaica is not an expense we can afford to avoid. The entire security development is one of our priorities, it was reflected on our budget allocation last year, and it will be further reflected in the new budget year that the Government has a commitment to secure Jamaica in all angles and we will be dealing with it very openly,” said Dr Chang.

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