Hoteliers want ban of jet skiing following fatal accident involving tourist
Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
The Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) is calling for the regulatory authorities to swiftly deal with the illegal and unregulated Jet Ski operators in the tourist industry, following the death of a visitor to the island yesterday.
The regulatory entities include the Maritime Authority, the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment.
At their regular council meeting at the JHTA headquarters in Kingston this morning, several members questioned whether jet skiing should have any place in the tourism product.
"We believe that a total ban must remain in place until the unregulated and unlicensed operators are dealt with," said the organisation's president Evelyn Smith.
According to her, there is currently a ban for unlicensed operators, but the JHTA will only endorse a total ban at this time.
"We are concerned about the continuous loss of life and injury to residents and visitors that has continued for years," she noted.
Her call has been cemented by Montego Bay hotelier and managing director of the Iberostar Resorts Jamaica, Philipp Hofer.
"This issue is an ongoing problem... and nobody seems to care. We have called on several occasions the marine police due to the constant presence of jet skis in front of our hotel," he told The Gleaner.
He added: "They have no license, no first aid kit, no rescue boat, no TPDCo (Tourism Product Development Company) training and if anything should happen, probably they will flee the scene as well."
According to Hofer, the Ministry of Tourism is aware of the issue.
Last year, the Tourism Minister, Dr Wykeham McNeill, highlighted the issue as one of serious concern.
On Tuesday, a Tomas Torres Castillo, an American tourist from Las Vegas, Nevada, was killed in the resort town of Negril, Westmoreland, when a jet ski slammed into him while he was swimming.
Castillo, who was on vacation with his wife, Maria, was a guest at the Travellers Beach Resort, where he had been staying since last Friday.
According to reports, shortly after midday, Castillo was swimming when he was hit by the speeding jet ski, which did not stop.
He was rushed to the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital, where he was reportedly pronounced dead.
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