Tourism security audit not a knee-jerk reaction to bad press, says Bartlett

The security audit being conducted at hotels and attractions island wide is not a reflex reaction to recent stories in the overseas media that paint Jamaica in a negative light, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has assured.

“I want it to be very clear that this is not a knee-jerk reaction to any kind of media or any intervention in the last few weeks, months or even years, because the whole business of tourism safety and security is fundamental to tourism itself,” Bartlett told a Tourism Safety and Security Forum held at Montego Bay Convention Centre yesterday.

“It is the underpinning which enables a sense of well-being of visitors crossing borders. It is a feeling that must pervade the persona of travellers before they even leave their destination and, therefore, it is a responsibility and a duty for recipient destinations to ensure that the well-being of visitors are secured,” Bartlett added.

Jamaica, he noted, “has done an excellent job over the years, and in comparative terms we are on top of the scale of safe and secure destinations across the world”.

He pointed out that the incidence of infractions against tourists in Jamaica is .01 per cent. “But the objective is not to have .01 per cent, the objective is to have zero per cent. The objective is to ensure a pristine, clear, and clean destination. So whenever there are statements, either allegations or indeed factual, our job is to jump on it immediately and to deal with it and to clear the air — because what hurts tourism and a destination more than anything else is perception,” Bartlett stated.

“Perception sometimes leads to facts, but perception may have nothing to do with facts, and so one of the things that we have to do to make sure that we make that distinction is what is perceived to be a position,” he said.

National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang concurred that Jamaica has a history of minimal incidence of crime against tourists.