Fri | Dec 9, 2016

Visitor harassment continues to haunt Negril

Published:Saturday | January 3, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Elaine Bradley
Deputy Superintendent of Police Mercedes Currie
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Karrie Williams, Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Even as Negril continues to profit from increased tourist arrivals, the islands capital of casual continues to suffer from widespread tourist harassment despite mitigation measures, stakeholders say.

"That's probably one of our biggest issues, and unfortunately, it is something that our guests have been experiencing. But, as an association, we are working closely with the police officers and other liaison officers, and it is something that we are staying on top of continuously," Winthrope Wellington, chairman of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Negril Chapter, told Western Focus recently.

Bad on the beach

Elaine Bradley, member of the Negril Resort Board and president elect of the Rotary Club of Negril, also expressed concerns for the current level of tourist harassment in Negril. According to her, if this remains unabated, the resort towns tourist arrivals will fall significantly.

"My concerns are that people are going to stop coming to Negril because of the harassment. Its really bad on the beach and its mainly caused from all the selling that goes on there, Bradley lamented. There have been instances on the beach where tourists have told these vendors that they do not have money to make purchases and they have been told by them that they must go back to the hotel and get their credit card.

"Nobody in Negril can walk the beach
safely, even in broad daylight, she continued. It is getting so bad,
only the all-inclusives will benefit because they will be telling people
it is not safe, and in the all-inclusive you feel very safe. So, how
are the small hotels along the beach going to manage if people cant come
in and go out?"

In addressing the concerns of the
stakeholders, Deputy Superintendent of Police Mercedes Currie, confirmed
that there is indeed a high level of tourist harassment in the resort
town. However, she gave the polices assurance to capture and apprehend
perpetrators.

"Tourist harassment has been a concern to
the police over the years in all the resort areas including Negril.
What has been done in recent times is that we have stepped up our
presence, especially in the West End and along the Norman Manley
Boulevard area, and there is even greater presence on the beach by day
and night," she said.

"We encourage all stakeholders to
feel free to come to us and speak to the police if they have identified
instances of harassment so that we can go back to the drawing board and
look at how we can increase our visibility and increase what we are
doing to stem this harassment. It is something that we are aware of and
we are doing everything to minimise it as much as possible," Currie
added.