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RIGHT OF CENTRE: Crime drives people away

Colin Jordan

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One of the most important brand elements for tourism in Barbados is safety and security. The comfort and ease of moving around that we as residents desire and to some degree enjoy has made us attractive to visitors.
The world changed fundamentally after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States and the resulting war on terror. Travellers are much more conscious of their choice of destination. They travel to escape the stresses of their home cities and wish to spend time in what could be considered an oasis. They come to Barbados seeking that oasis.
Crime of any type challenges our own safety and security and therefore damages our reputation as a safe and secure destination.
When crimes are committed against those of us who work in the tourism industry or interact with visitors in any way, it also negatively impacts the quality of our service to our visitors.
Our reputation for safety is critically important and must be jealously guarded if we are to be comfortable in our country, protect jobs, earn foreign exchange and remain a desirable place to live, work and visit.
The cash-for-gold trade has spawned an upsurge of jewellery snatching from both residents and visitors. Having a necklace snatched at 9 a.m. on a busy street during what is supposed to be a relaxing holiday is not what any visitor expects when booking a vacation in Barbados.
This typical experience will certainly dissuade the visitor and potential visitors from booking a return visit to spend valuable foreign exchange in Barbados.
Becoming prisoners in our homes, restricting visitors to specific places in Barbados, or resorting to removing everything precious from our bodies whenever we leave home or hotel room is not an appropriate long-term response. Fear is a push factor. It drives people away.
This development must be taken in context. We continue to have crime against persons and crimes that impact persons in many other forms. Harassment is still common in Barbados, more prevalent on some beaches than others, but existing in areas including Bridgetown, Holetown and St Lawrence Gap.
Unregulated vending and no enforcement of regulations lead some persons, albeit the minority, to disrespect the right of a person to say “no” to an offer.
Deficient law enforcement allows those engaged in predial larceny to endanger the lives of consumers – residents and visitors – by selling produce with toxins due to recent spraying.
The recent well publicized stories of two British visitors and their allegations relating to cases of rape illustrate the negative impact crime can have on a tourism-dependent economy like ours.
As Barbadians we encourage the development of all legitimate businesses so that workers and business owners can make a living and the country can develop.
However, anything that hinders our socio-economic development must not be allowed to take root. Anything that encourages criminal activity must be shunned by thinking people in a society that takes its development seriously.
• Colin Jordan is immediate past president of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association.