Safety, security top priority for region’s tourism – Bartlett urges
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.
Faced with the reality of the Caribbean being the most tourism-dependent region on earth, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett has pointed regional commissioners of police to the need for an integrated approach to ensuring the safety and security of visitors.
Bartlett was one of several speakers at the opening ceremony of the 33rd annual general meeting and conference of the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police, being held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre. He reminded them that tourism has been the single, most important and sustainable activity particularly within the Anglophobe Caribbean over the last 50 years.
Currently, the industry accounts for over 40 percent of the GDP of the Caribbean’s economy, employing one-in-five of all workers in the region and last year earning US$30 billion. “What it means then, is that the future of the economic well-being of our region is truly not locked into the traditional mode of production as we have understood it, nor is it tied to the traditional commodities that have characterised our economic community over time,” he said.
In line with the conference theme, “An Integrated Approach towards Serious and Organized Crime: Implications for regional Growth and development,” Bartlett told police commissioners and other representatives of 13 Caribbean states that “despite its importance and the fact that price was not yet a major factor, tourism was a vulnerable economic activity, susceptible to major disruptions of all types.”
And while maintaining that the Caribbean remained a region of peace, he stressed that safety and security had to be seen as top priority as “the elements that are going to distinguish destinations in the future are safety, security and seamlessness.”
At the local level, the Ministry of Tourism, through the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), has committed over $1 billion to the Ministry of National Security to boost safety and security. Some $201 million has gone into rehabilitating police stations and other buildings, more than $191 million into purchasing motor vehicles and motor bikes to patrol resort areas and $45 million for the acquisition of boat engines and other equipment to support the Marine Resource Upgrading Programme.
Also, $80 million has been provided for the commissioning of CCTV systems and $150 million funded the training of 200 District Constables by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) to strengthen formal security arrangements in resort communities and tackle visitor harassment.