With Government promising sweeping changes to regulate the Watersport industry following the disappearance of two American tourists while jet skiing in Barbados waters, some operators are concerned that Government may be reacting rashly to an unfortunate incident.
This morning Barbados TODAY visited watersports operators at Needham’s Point, Bay Street and Payne’s Bay, St James. Several of them noted that while they had no problem with regulations, they were fearful of rules becoming so stringent that it drives them out of business. According to one watersport instructor, who referred to himself only as Duck, operators already ensure that their customers adhere to certain safety rules.
“It is really unfortunate what has happened to the two tourists, but we have to now look at how we are going to respond. We are here to make a living and it is in our best interest to make sure that our customers enjoy themselves and they are safe. A lot of tourists come and ask for us by name because their friends tell them about the good time that they had. So, we are not going to jeopardize that,” he said.
Another operator who did not want to be identified said it seemed as though the business standards among operators have been suddenly called into question, following the disappearance of Oscar Suarez and Magdalena Devil, who have been missing since June 24, 2019, when they left on a jet ski ride.
“We maintain our equipment because it is our livelihood. We understand that somebody has to take the blame, but we can’t allow emotion to get into this. I can understand if you make a statement like that after the jet ski is found and you determine that it was mechanical failure or something like that,” he said.
Speaking to the media following the end of the search for the missing couple last Sunday, Minister of Tourism, Kerrie Symmonds, called for regulations in the watersports sector to govern how business is conducted.
“I think when this has blown over a little bit , we are going to sit down and have a comprehensive and uncompromising review of all the processes involved and assess where there are weaknesses,” he said.
However, the Minister made it clear that he was not singling out jet ski operators but rather called for international safety standards across the board. He emphasized that when the time is right, his ministry and the Ministry of the Blue Economy will make the necessary changes. [email protected]
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