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JAMAICA | Visitors assured of safety despite assault reports at resorts

Featured Cases of sexual assault have been reported at Sandals resorts Cases of sexual assault have been reported at Sandals resorts
KINGSTON, Jamaica, December 21, 2018 - The Jamaica Constabulary Force is assuring visitors to the island that there is no need to be concerned in light of reports of alleged sexual assaults occurring at local resorts.
Assistant Superintendent from the Resort Areas Division in the Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch Omar Morris, says the incidents involve locals accused of assaulting tourists and tourists accused of assaulting other tourists.
Speaking on TVJ's Smile Jamaica Thursday morning, ASP Morris said the number of alleged sexual assaults reported by international media is close to the JCF's statistics and pointed out that the ratio of incidents is low and there is a high clear up rate.
US media have stated that more than 70 tourists were raped at some of Jamaica's top resorts between 2011 and 2017.
"However, when you look at the time period and you compare the number of visitors that have arrived in the island, that is actually a very low number because over that period, we have had close to 20 million visitors come into the island," he asserted, adding that the figure is "consistent with other tourist destinations." 
ASP Morris said, last year, Jamaica welcomed 4.3 million visitors. However, 81 crimes against foreign nationals, including tourists, were recorded.
These include tourist against tourist crimes, larceny, assault, and rape.  
ASP Morris noted that all local hotels have security standards which have to be met, including making available police emergency numbers to all guests. 
A team headed by international tourism safety expert Dr. Peter Tarlow and a group called Global Rescue is currently working on developing further guidelines and protocols to govern hotel and guest relations.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, announced in October that he had directed the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), to conduct the audit through its Destination Assurance Division.

The objective, he said, was to identify gaps and ensure that the destination remains safe, secure, and seamless for visitors and locals alike.

Minister Bartlett said Dr. Peter Tarlow, who is “one of the most outstanding safety engineers and consultants in tourism today,” will be supported by a global rescue team from the United States, along with technical support from some of the major destinations, such as the United Kingdom and Canada,” he said.

He noted that Dr. Tarlow will discuss solutions with safety professionals in Jamaica.

“This confluence of top international as well as local thinkers, planners and consultants will enable us to have a full-scale review of all our protocols in tourism and, particularly, to enable us to carve and, indeed, to create a new architecture for tourism ethics in Jamaica,” he added.

Minister Bartlett said that the Government is determined to preserve “the wonderful destination that we have” and ensure that “all our visitors… feel confident and protected while in Jamaica”.

“Their human rights must be respected and their cultural and other traits, which are dear and special to them, must also be protected and respected,” he added.

Minister Bartlett said that Jamaica prides itself on being a safe, secure and seamless destination.

“We have been very high on visitor facilitation, creating access and providing quality services for our visitors. That record remains impeccable, and so where there are any cases of infractions and where we have knowledge, we act swiftly and we act resolutely,” he pointed out.

Mr. Bartlett noted that the Government is fully aware that the changing landscape of tourism today makes it mandatory for countries like Jamaica, to consistently review all protocols and arrangements and operate at the highest standards to protect market share.

  • Countries: Jamaica

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