Visitor Harassment Curtailed

Photo: Garwin Davis Chairman of Jamaica National Cruise Council and Mayor of St. Ann’s Bay, Michael Belnavis, fielding questions at the Reynolds’ Cruise Pier in Ocho Rios.

Story Highlights

  • Chairman of Jamaica’s National Cruise Council (NCC), Michael Belnavis, says the problem of visitor harassment has been seriously curtailed in most of the resort towns where visitors can now freely walk the streets.
  • According to Mr. Belnavis, the Courtesy Corps, a security unit formerly known as the Resort Patrol, and which falls under the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), must be commended for their vigilance and zero-tolerance approach, especially in the cruise shipping towns of Falmouth, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay.
  • Mr. Belnavis said the positive anti-harassment efforts have not been lost on the cruise lines and their owners, “who religiously and meticulously monitor everything that happens at the port of call, especially the complaints.”

Chairman of Jamaica’s National Cruise Council (NCC), Michael Belnavis, says the problem of visitor harassment has been seriously curtailed in most of the resort towns where visitors can now freely walk the streets.

According to Mr. Belnavis, the Courtesy Corps, a security unit formerly known as the Resort Patrol, and which falls under the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), must be commended for their vigilance and zero-tolerance approach, especially in the cruise shipping towns of Falmouth, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay.

“What we have been seeing is somewhat unprecedented. I don’t know if there is any correlation with the fact that there are so many ships coming in the ports where the visitors simply outnumber the harassers, making the problem harder to detect,” he told JIS News.

“What I do know though is that officers of the Courtesy Corps and members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) have been very visible and very proactive. I can say that harassment is at an all-time low in Jamaica right now,” Mr. Belnavis added.

The NCC Chairman said he has also been getting a lot of positive response from tourism stakeholders, noting that many have been “literally begging for us to continue on this pathway.”

“Not only have the visitors been walking the streets but they are interacting freely and cutting their own deals with the craft vendors and other business operators,” Mr. Belnavis further noted.

Mr. Belnavis said the positive anti-harassment efforts have not been lost on the cruise lines and their owners, “who religiously and meticulously monitor everything that happens at the port of call, especially the complaints.”

“They are in tune with what has been happening and they are encouraged by our proactive approach,” Mr. Belnavis noted.

In the meantime, General Manager for Marksman Limited, the entity with oversight responsibility for the Courtesy Corps, Major Michael Goulbourne, said the current success is not merely coincidental but something that is both a combination of strategy and hard work.

“The Courtesy Corps was brought in to assist with the growing problem of tourist harassment in the resort areas. We were tasked to cover seven locations – Kingston, Runaway Bay, Ocho Rios, Falmouth, Montego Bay, Port Antonio and Negril,” he noted.

Major Goulbourne said that from the outset it was evident that they had to realign their strategies by confronting the problem, not necessarily from an enforcement standpoint but also where “we had to make a pitch for the hearts and minds.”

“We started out not just going after people. We first went about identifying those who were the known harassers, engaging them in dialogue and getting them to understand that their actions were adversely impacting Jamaica’s number one industry,” he said.

Major Goulbourne said while it was not an easy road, with the able assistance from members of the JCF, the Courtesy Corps has strategically, over time, been able to get things under control.

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