Bring in the soldiers now – Negril hoteliers
Coming on the heels of the recent murder of a Canadian tourist in Negril, hoteliers in the resort town are calling for the deployment of members of the Jamaica Defence Force on the streets to uproot the criminals who have been taking up residence there.
Richard Wallace, a director of the Negril Chamber of Com-merce (NCC), told The Gleaner that the deployment of the soldiers is absolutely necessary, especially in light of the rising crime levels, which the police are seemingly unable to curb. He said if this is not done, small hoteliers and business people will suffer in the long run as guests will flock to the perceived safety of all-inclusive hotels.
"I would be in full support of that. One of the things we need to understand is that what we are doing is not new to the world. There are other places that have experienced the same problems that we are having and they have dealt with it," said Wallace, who operates the Boardwalk Village. "There are examples that we can follow, such as Mexico. Mexico has done it and people are still flocking to Mexico.
"The biggest concern I hear about putting soldiers in the resorts is the fear factor that the tourist would feel scared about seeing big guns and military uniforms, but that is not true. People feel safer when they see them around," stated Wallace. "There are many countries in the world that see millions of tourists more than we do Israel for example places like that you always see soldiers; you always see the military. It's becoming commonplace, even in America. You go, you see dogs and guns and all these things."
Gail Jackson, the operator of the Negril Treehouse, told The Gleaner that she is in full support of soldiers permanently stationed in the town.
"I am a hundred per cent for the soldiers in Negril. I have been to many countries in my life and seen many soldiers in Cuba, Kenya, Colombia .... and that makes me feel safe, so I think it is not a perception of being unsafe. I want the soldiers all over Negril because we have a public-relations nightmare on our hands. It is the truth," said Jackson.
Elaine Bradley, an outspoken member of the Negril chamber, is among those persons who have been clamouring for military presence in the resort town for a long time.
"I think it's a good idea and, my colleagues in the chamber, we think it is a good idea. We even had a suggestion from the general manager of Azul Hotel that the only thing that could calm Mexico was having their soldiers for a three to six months period to clean up the place," said Bradley. "They tried everything that we tried ad it never worked until they brought soldiers in.
"And tourists, they are not afraid of seeing soldiers; they feel safer, so all this rubbish that it will be seen as a military state and all that, that's nonsense," continued Bradley. "A lot of the bike riders, they don't respect the police, they just push them aside. The only respect they will have is if they see soldiers, and we need them to be in Negril."