Saturday 25 May, 2019

JHTA head says tourism industry taking US travel advisory seriously

JHTA President Omar Robinson reiterated that the incidence of violence against tourists in Jamaica is low, even amid the rising crime rate overall.

JHTA President Omar Robinson reiterated that the incidence of violence against tourists in Jamaica is low, even amid the rising crime rate overall.

The President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Omar Robinson, says the industry is treating seriously, the United States government’s travel advisory to its citizens on the island, and claims of visitor assaults at some local resorts.

The US government on Wednesday issued a warning to its citizens to exercise increased caution in Jamaica due to crime concerns here.

The advisory also said sexual assaults of visitors occur frequently, even at all-inclusive resorts, and advised US visitors to avoid secluded places or situations, even in resorts.

Robinson said the JHTA had received correspondences from various embassies about cases of sexual assault against visitors at hotels.

“It’s definitely an issue that the JHTA is concerned about, and we, along with the Jamaica Tourist Board, are treating the matter with urgency and importance,” Robinson told Loop News.

“We paint a picture of sun, sea, sand and happiness, so anything that goes against that will have an impact on the industry,” he added.

At the same time, there are policies, training and general sensitisation of tourism and hotel staff about what can be deemed as harassment and assault, according to Robinson.

He said the JHTA has not received information about the number of cases of alleged sexual assault against guests from the embassies. He, however, believes the it is not a widespread factor.

“But in any case, one is too many,” Robinson said.

The JHTA president also reiterated that the incidence of violence against tourists in Jamaica is low, even amid the rising crime rate overall.

“Luckily the incidence is very low, and that is something that we need to emphasise,” Robinson said.

“But we are aware of the impact of crime on the industry, and we need a lot of partnerships with the Government and the private sector to tackle this,” he stressed.

Robinson went on to say that there are a lot of positive experiences for visitors, which is evidenced by the high rate of return among visitors.

“Our return rate is 40 per cent, which is probably the highest in the Caribbean. So that says a lot about our hotel and industry staff who ensure that the visitors have positive experiences,” he said.

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