Fri | Dec 9, 2016

'No means no!'

Published:Wednesday | March 2, 2011 | 12:00 AM
A bird's eye view of a section of Ocho Rios, St Ann. - Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer

Visitor describes Ocho Rios harassment

Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter

A frequent visitor to Jamaica has endorsed claims that harassment in Ocho Rios is the main reason the seaside north coast resort town is not enjoying an explosion in tourism arrivals to match its beauty.

"We have been coming to Ochi (Ocho Rios) since 1998 and, as you can imagine, we have seen many changes.

"I can tell you without a doubt that the hassling from the locals has definitely got worse, and this year,, I found it to be really bad," a Canadian, Tony Dyke, told The Gleaner in response to a series of articles published recently.

Dyke said he has spoken to friends that he has made in Jamaica to get some ideaon how to deal with the harassment issue, without luck.

No respect

"I have tried totally ignoring them, smiling with a 'no thank you', walking away in another direction, and so on.

"I get all the usual offers - ganja, cocaine, Italian gold chains, a ride to the falls, a guided tour of the markets. I can even tell you what apparently is the going rate for oral sex in Ochi," Dyke added.

He said on one occasion, he was headed to a supermarket to get groceries and was constantly harassed by taxi operators.

"I started to count the number of times I was asked if I wanted a taxi. I quit counting at 30.I have been called a racist no less than three separate times this trip. Why? Because I chose to ignorethese guys rather than get into a conversation."

According to Dyke: "I love it when they accuse me of not showing them respect. I wasalways told that you have to earn someone's respect. Obviously, they throw this word around, having no idea what it actually means."

Bleak outlook

He argued that if he harassed persons in Canada the way he has been harassed in Ocho Rios, he would be arrested "sooner or later".

"This beautiful island you call home deserves a better fate than it's headed for if this kind of ignorant behaviour is allowed to continue," Dyke warned.

He added that not all his experiences in Jamaica have been negative, as the persons doing the harassment are in the minority.

"Most of the Jamaicans we meet and deal withare perfectly polite and easy toassociate with. It's just the few that give the whole place a very bad image and, unfortunately, it's those few that most tourists get to see.

"They all need to learn one thing: No means no," added Dyke.