There is a $1.6 million project in the pipeline, led by the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, which stakeholders are hoping will go a long way towards reducing crime in the vital tourism sector, and by extension the island.
The project, aimed for the West Coast and for which the BHTA is currently soliciting financing to get underway, is intended to place 26 cameras along the stretch from Batts Rock, St. Michael to Speightstown, St. Peter, the main western tourist belt, announced Executive Vice President of the BHTA, Sue Springer this morning.
Addressing stakeholders at the association’s first quarterly meeting at Accra Beach Hotel, Springer said the project would be comprise primarily of CCTVs, similar to what had been put into effect along the South Coast and into the City to help police those areas through use of electronic surveillance.
“We are working with the private sector and the TDC to see if we can raise the money; we need $1.6 million … to put up 26 CCTV cameras from Batts Rock into Speightstown. So if you know anyone who would like to be a good citizen or visitor, tell them how helpful they have been on the South Coast.
“Definitely the cameras came into play with the situation that happened with the cruise ship. Just so you know those were the ones that were put in by BTII, but the cameras did come into play,” she told BHTA members and stakeholders.
The initiative was one, said the executive VP, that they intend to use along with the ongoing security training for tourism employees with former police inspector, Jeffrey Howell, looking at areas of the laws of Barbados among other areas.
The protection of visitors was something also addressed by Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, the featured speaker, who then fielded questions from the membership, one of which touched on the damage done to the island’s image by the recent international reports concerning the shooting and robbery of British visitors Philip and Ann Prior.
“Barbados prides itself on safety and security and I wish to assure everyone that the highest priority has been placed on making sure that not only Barbadians are protected, but that our guests, through the implementation of more stringent measures across the island.”
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite and Sealy were among persons that ensured the Priors were comfortable after the incident and along with the police were attempting to “rid ourselves of anything which even appears to be a spate of incidents” in the sector.
“We cannot afford it and I don’t want anyone to think that we are in anyway soft on crime,” said Sealy, urging tourism members to ensure their properties and attractions complied with the law regarding safety and security.
President Patricia Affonso-Dass noted that such crimes should be considered an act of terrorism given the damage they did to the country’s image.
“Crime against visitors – due to its international impact and visibility – while not diminishing in any way the importance or impact of crime in general, should be viewed as seriously as an act of economic terrorism, as removal of or damage to this most important brand element effectively can bring the entire industry down and by extension damage the livelihoods of the majority of Barbadians.
“Visitor studies show that crime and harassment act as a deterrent to visitors. The level of crime is cause for concern insofar as it affects the life of all Barbadians and poses threats to the development and continuation of economic activity especially in the tourism and offshore business. The process of law should be modernised, where necessary, and accelerated and, if needed, a special court be convened to dispense of these cases swiftly.”
She issued strong support for the police on the matter.
“The BHTA supports the commissioner of police in his call for stronger legislation regarding all persons/businesses trading in metals particularly cash for gold. We appeal to the Attorney General to give this matter his most urgent attention.
“Additionally, we call for the harshest fines and penalties for any persons found to be operating outside of the legislation and significant jail terms for any persons who perpetrate crimes that can be damaging to Barbados’ international reputation as a safe tourism destination,” the president added.
She said they were hoping that Government would fund the installation of the CCTV cameras on the West Coast, monitor the equipment to ensure it was always in working order, implement a no-tolerance approach and aggressively enforce existing legislation to eradicate illegal vending, harassment, drug pushing, etc., and ensure closer cooperation between the National Conservation Commission and the Royal Barbados Police Force, especially in relation to activity on the beaches. (LB)