Tourism official surprised by U.S. warning about Fish Fry
Deputy Director of Tourism Ellison Thompson yesterday called the updated travel advisory, issued by the U. S. State Department on Wednesday, unfortunate, and said he intends to contact the U. S. Embassy to inquire more about the circumstances surrounding its issuance.
The advisory warns U.S. citizens to “exercise increased caution” when visiting The Bahamas due to crime.
Advisories were also issued for other countries, which were ranked according to a new advisory system — on a scale of one to four, with four being the most severe warning.
The advisory urges visitors to “avoid the area known as Over-the- Hill, south of Shirley Street and Fish Fry at Arawak Cay in Nassau at night”.
“It’s unfortunate that, that has been done because [Fish Fry has] been a very popular venue for visitors and Bahamians alike,” Thompson told The Guardian.
“People go and they enjoy a very safe time, and they have a great authentic Bahamian experience.
“I think we need to find out exactly from the embassy what the challenge is and then we need to speak with the stakeholders at the Fish Fry to advise them that this is the issue and how do we collectively work on solving this.
“We are going to have to bring in the police. We are going to have to bring in the [Arawak Cay] Vendors’ Association, to explain to them this is the challenge that is being put in front of us and how do we collectively deal with it.”
Thompson said the advisory regarding Arawak Cay was surprising, given that police are always patrolling and there is a police station at the site.
“Usually we have over 6 million visitors coming to The Bahamas each year, and most of them have a safe and crime-free experience,” he added.
“So we don’t want people to be afraid to come to The Bahamas, [so] we will do our best to ensure that visitors are kept safe along with the local population.”
Several of the vendors at Fish Fry had mixed reactions to the U.S. advisory.
Owner of the Fish Central stall Samuel Rolle said he has been at Arawak Cay for over 15 years and has always considered it safe.
“Everybody saying things about this area is not safe,” Rolle said.
“I’ve been on Fish Fry for over 15 years, and I’ve never seen [anything] happen with tourists getting robbed, and tourists getting this or tourists getting that at the Fish Fry.
“So it’s a bunch of foolishness, because you have the police station right there and everything on Fish Fry.
“Fish Fry is a nice Bahamian place where tourists can sit down and relax and get a good meal, friendly people.
All that is at Fish Fry.
“So all those things that they are saying about it’s not safe, it’s not true.”
Rolle encouraged the Ministry of Tourism to “let the people know that whatever they are saying about the Fish Fry, it’s not true”.
Willard McKenzie, owner of Andros Hideout, said Fish Fry is a much safer place now than it on
“I think Fish Fry is safe, and I think Fish Fry is okay for the people to come,” McKenzie said.
“It’s like a new Fish Fry now.
“We don’t have that loud music anymore and families are now starting to come out.”
The owner of another Arawak Cay restaurant, however, said he agrees with the advisory that Fish Fry is not safe for tourists.
“That’s a fact,” he said, asking that his name not be used.
“The Bahamas and its citizenry, we only respond or react when things like this happen.
“The police have been reliably informed on an ongoing basis at Fish Fry that there [are] predators, that this is a habitat for criminals.”
He said the matter needs to be addressed immediately.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications