Properly policing Jamaica's resort areas is key to maintaining the country's top earner, tourism. National Security Minister Peter Bunting noted that in other countries, hotel rates were up to three times what Jamaica is receiving.
"And I know one of the reasons that occurs is because of the differences in our crime rate and the negative perception that our tourism and entertainment product has to overcome," he said.
To help improve the effectiveness of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) in resort areas, the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, through the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), on Wednesday handed 15 Toyota Corolla motor cars to the police force, 13 of which will be deployed to Trelawny, St James, Hanover, Westmoreland and St Mary.
Bunting opined that the broader society was starting to understand the importance of investment in the national security infrastructure. He said improving safety and security would have multiple spin-offs economically and socially.
SECURITY A CONCERN
Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington said tourists come to Jamaica for the unique Jamaican experience which starts at our ports. But he noted that movements along our roadways was also essential. He said the JCF has assessed the greatest risk faced by visitors was their transport safety and security.
"We've had a number of instances where visitors received serious injuries in traffic accidents and have died," he said. "We intend to deploy these vehicles in highway policing. We're going to be saturating, for example, the Elegant Corridor (in St James) and then we will be extending to the other parishes with resorts or which resort areas cover."
Tourism State Minister Damion Crawford, reading a speech from Tourism Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill, lauded the JCF's crime-reduction efforts and assured the latest initiative was widespread.
"I want to emphasise that this is not only being done to safeguard our foreign visitors, but also our Jamaican visitors as well."
Last year, the TEF presented the JCF with 16 sport utility vehicles and is doing various projects in resort areas, including the $6-million refurbishing of the Montego Hills Police Station. Motorcycles have also been provided for the Montego Bay resort area through a partnership with the St James Police-Citizens Action Committee.