Anti-Harassment Drive Lauded

Photo: JIS Photographer Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett (right); Director of Tourism, Paul Pennicook (centre) and Chairman of the National Cruise Council (NCC) Michael Belnavis at a Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) function in Miami, Florida, recently.

Story Highlights

  • Mr. Belnavis informed that he would be monitoring activities in the other resort/cruise areas, adding that it is important that harassment be kept in check everywhere.
  • The Minister said that the Courtesy Corps, a tourism security unit that falls under TPDCo and by extension the Ministry of Tourism
  • Mr. Bartlett told JIS News that while there are still ongoing discussions looking at ways to create the necessary legislative framework that will give courtesy officers the power to make an arrest, “we currently have mechanisms in place to ensure that our visitors are safe and free from fear”.

Chairman of the National Cruise Council (NCC), Michael Belnavis, is lauding the Government’s anti-harassment efforts on the streets of Ocho Rios, noting that there are early indications they have been working.

Mr. Belnavis points to the start of the cruise-shipping season where Ocho Rios has been experiencing an unusual amount of walking traffic from the cruise pier into the main thoroughfare of Main Street, “minus the constant badgering and harassment”.

“I am not one to toot the horn too early, but there are indeed some very encouraging signs,” Mr. Belnavis, who is also the Mayor of St. Ann’s Bay, told JIS News in an interview.

“On back-to-back days, recently, there were two ships in port that saw many of the guests opting to walk into town as opposed to going on the organised tours. What I personally saw was a shifting of the wind, where the visitors were allowed to roam freely without anybody running behind them and causing any bother. There was the occasional interruption by a few taxi men soliciting business, but nothing that warranted any high level of concern,” he said.

Mr. Belnavis further informed that he would be monitoring activities in the other resort/cruise areas, adding that it is important that harassment be kept in check everywhere.

“Visitor harassment has undoubtedly been one of the leading ills facing the tourism sector. It has contributed to problems and has caused some anxious moments in our relationship with cruise officials. We have to get it under control, and I am happy there are signs that we are starting to do just that,” he said.

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, in 2016 promised that the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) “is going to be reinvigorated to allow for the development of a powerful safety and security division” to help combat problems such as harassment.

The Minister said that the Courtesy Corps, a tourism security unit that falls under TPDCo and by extension the Ministry of Tourism, “will be morphed into something far more powerful and far more responsive and with the legal authority to act”.

Mr. Bartlett told JIS News that while there are still ongoing discussions looking at ways to create the necessary legislative framework that will give courtesy officers the power to make an arrest, “we currently have mechanisms in place to ensure that our visitors are safe and free from fear”.

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