TTC Service.- Safety and security had to be seen as top priority in the Caribbean, Jamaican Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said and urging regional commissioners of police to use an integrated approach to protect visitors “facing the reality that the Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region on earth”, he added.
Bartlett was one of several speakers at yesterday’s 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, last week.
Bartlett is one of the most experienced and award-winning tourism ministers in the area. He reminded them that tourism has been the single, most important and sustainable activity particularly within the Anglophone Caribbean over the last 50 years.
Security concerns are inhibiting tourism growth, says Bartlett. “We brought in 30 million people [visitors], but we could have brought in 45 million. One of the reasons [we didn’t] was that there is a creeping volcano … the rumbling sounds of insecurity that are pervading our Caribbean space,” he said.
“Tourism is a vulnerable economic activity. It is susceptible to major disruptions of all types, and it flourishes and operates only within a space of surety, and surety only comes about by security and seamlessness,” the minister stated.
Jamaica, with 40.9 murders per year per 100,000 people, are among the nations with the highest murder rates in the world although Jamaica’s homicide rate has declined somewhat in recent years.
Other destinations in the Caribbean region with murder rates significantly higher are U.S. Virgin Islands: 39 murders per 100,000, St. Kitts and Nevis: 38 per 100,000, Belize: 30.8 per 100,000, Trinidad and Tobago: 35 per 100,000, Bahamas: 27.4 per 100,000, Puerto Rico 26 per 100,000, Dominican Republic: 25 per 100,000, St. Lucia: 25 per 100,000, St. Vincent and The Grenadines: 22 per 100,000 and Dominica: 22 per 100,000.
Some of the most affected Latin American countries in the area are Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico and Panama.
Barlett 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.”
Bartlett was awarded the Caribbean Tourism Minister of the Year at the Caribbean Travel Awards 2017.
The conference of 25 member states discussed regional collaboration in the development of policing strategies, identification of proactive crime-prevention measures, and improvement of police-community relations.