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Dyer: We are going to blunt tourist harassment

Published:Thursday | September 7, 2017 | 12:00 AMOkoye Henry
Godfrey Dyer

Western Bureau:

Businessman Godfrey Dyer, the chairman of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), has added his voice to the ongoing talks about tourist harassment by locals, which stakeholders say could have problematic consequences for brand Jamaica.

In a recent interview with The Gleaner, the former Montego Bay hotelier said that he was expecting to see major improvements in the sector in short order as it related to alleviating tourist harassment over which local hoteliers have constantly agonised.

Dyer, who is a former police officer, pointed to Tourism Product Development Company's (TPDCO) District Constable (DC) programme ,which was recently introduced as a counter easure, to be a key factor in achieving the anti-harassment objective.

"The (Tourism) ministry has been trying for a long time to curb harassment," said Dyer.

"We started with the Tourism Courtesy Corp Programme (TCCP) a few years back, and it worked for a period, then it was not too effective. Then the DC programme was introduced about a year and a half ago, and it has increased in numbers now."

In July, more than 90 newly trained district constables, representing the second group of graduates, graduated under the District Constable Programme at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, in St James.

The DCs had successfully completed their six weeks of training and were to form part of the Visitor Safety Unit tasked with policing several special tourist zones, such as the Montego Bay Hip Strip, beaches, craft markets, and cruise shipping piers, among other areas.

"The DC programme has taken over fully from the Tourism Courtesy Corp, and we are hoping to see significant improvement when it comes to harassment," said Dyer. "They (the district constables) are all well trained in police duties, so we think we should be seeing progress in a short while."

In addition, Dyer noted that persons who are found to be harassing or have committed offences against tourists will be heavily fined and prosecuted under the law.

"So things can be done and will be done," said Dyer, with regards to curtailing the harassment of visitors.