THAT Saint Lucia has been cited in a Yahoo! article entitled “The Caribbean’s Most Dangerous Cruise Stops Will Surprise You” should come as no comfort for any Saint Lucian or visitor wishing to vacation here.
Ever since the article was published last Thursday, much has been said about the credibility of its contents, including remarks made by the President of the Saint Lucia Dry Goods Vendors Association, Peter “RasIpa” Isaac, published a week earlier on stluciatimes.com. Isaac’s contention is that the crime situation in the country has reached the point where cruise ships might soon stop dropping their anchors here.
According to the Yahoo! article, the “sticky issue” of crime against cruise passengers to the Caribbean is a major concern for cruise line operators. Popular tourist destination, the Bahamas, came in for a hard whipping due to “a spike in crimes that’s affected American visitors”, according to the U.S. State Department.
In the case of Saint Lucia, the U.S. State Department warned that crime was increasing, with visitors being “targeted often” for petty crime. However, the article failed to indicate when exactly the charges made against the Bahamas and Saint Lucia were made.
Minister for Tourism, Lorne Theophilus, has since responded to the charges being levelled at Saint Lucia in the article, referring to them as “irresponsible and blanket statements” that could hurt the destination. While Saint Lucia has indeed recorded many instances where crimes against visitors have occurred, Theophilus said the comments put in jeopardy the strides made in the local tourism sector in the past three years.
While the Saint Lucia Tourist Board has repeatedly expressed concerns about the possible fallout crimes can pose to the tourism sector, it has also expressed concerns about the number of visitors alleging that their stay here has been hampered by some kind of crime committed against them. And while more police officers are visible in Castries whenever cruise ships call here, it would be quite a task for an already-underfunded police force to supply enough police officers to ensure visitor safety across the island.
Nevertheless, local authorities need to work even harder at whatever plans they have in place to ensure not only visitor safety but that of Saint Lucians as well. As it stands, both visitors and Saint Lucians are already disgusted with the unsightly state of the city, with little or nothing being done to correct that anomaly. The time is now opportune for the authorities to tackle a two-pronged problem concerning Castries: its security and its well-being. These two stigmas about the city definitely need some serious attention before the next unfavourable write-up about our island pops up.