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We are serious about protecting visitors - JHTA boss

Published:Thursday | November 1, 2018 | 12:00 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor
Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association President Omar Robinson.


Omar Robinson, the president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), is taking issue with a suggestion in an overseas publication, which is insinuating that crimes against visitors are not being treated seriously here in Jamaica.

Robinson declared that crimes against visitors are not being covered up and further noted that, when such incidents occur, they are reported to the police as well as the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTA) and the embassies of the affected persons.

"I do not think there was any attempt or any deceptions at all to cover up any incidents, usually when such incidents happen the properties work along with the local police, if it is a police matter, and the other stakeholders, the tourist board (JTB), who would advise the embassies, who we will encourage them to advise."

In a scathing report, published in USA Today, last week Tuesday, it was stated that sexual crimes against visitors were quite rampant in Jamaica and in many instances, such offences were taking place inside gated resorts, where one would expect visitors to be safe.


Staunch defence


While local tourism officials have been putting up a staunch defence, using statistics to suggest that Jamaica is a fairly safe popular destination, where crime against visitors was fairly low, there is nonetheless some amount of concerns about a possible fall-out from the article.

In regards to the potential for a possible fall-out, the JHTA boss said it is too early to make a determination as to the possible impact of the USA Today story, which has picked up significant traction locally.

"It is a little bit early to say there will be any fallout," said Robinson. "We have had some properties, which have received queries about concerns for safety and properties were able to reassure the guests that they are safe. Our resorts are safe and they provide that secured environment that visitors have come to expect over the years."

Robinson also indicated that the 78 incidents, which were reported in the damning article, actually occurred over a seven years period, during which time the island welcomed over 20 million visitors.

With the article suggesting that hotel employees were numbered among the sexual predators attacking visitors, Robinson explained that extensive training is being carried out in the sector to develop a high level of professionalism among workers.

"Our members have been engaged in training, engaged in sensitisation sessions and they spend a considerable amount of time and money to train our staff to ensure that incidents of this nature do not happen," explained Robinson.