Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019
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Tourism ministry insists no need for crime alarm

The Ministry of Tourism said yesterday that of the 43 reported incidents of crime involving tourists last year, 30 were United States citizens and the crimes were minor.

The data follows a recent travel advisory issued by the U.S. Department of State warning U.S. citizens to “exercise increased caution” when visiting The Bahamas due to crime.

A similar advisory was released in January last year.

The U.S. advised that this latest warning was reissued after periodic review with updates to information on crime.

However, the Ministry of Tourism said crime in The Bahamas has decreased over the past year.

“In reality, the vast majority of our six million annual visitors [come to The Bahamas] without any incident whatsoever,” the ministry said in a statement.

“According to Royal Bahamas Police data for 2018, there were only 43 incidents involving tourists, of which 30 involved U.S. nationals and nearly all were minor offenses.

“The Ministry of Tourism appreciates the efforts of law enforcement and congratulates authorities on the progress they have made in significantly reducing serious crimes like murder (-25 percent), armed robbery (-18 percent), attempted robbery (-19 percent) and shoplifting (-23 percent).

“The safety of residents and visitors is of paramount importance and efforts to maintain and improve security are a constant priority for Bahamas authorities as is true for all governments.”

The U.S. advisory claimed that violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies and sexual assault, is common, even during the day and in tourist areas.

The warning urged U.S citizens to exercise caution in the Over-the-Hill area and the Fish Fry at Arawak Cay in Nassau, especially at night.

Visitors were also told that activities involving commercial recreational watercraft, including water tours, are not consistently regulated and that Jet Ski operators have been known to commit sexual assaults against tourists.

The Ministry of Tourism insisted yesterday that steps are being taken to address these concerns.

“Safety and security efforts include the use of CCTV in addition to a heightened police presence with foot, bicycle and motor patrols across all areas referenced in the advisory and tourist areas, including additional beach enforcement officers that have been deployed to beaches frequented by visitors,” the statement said.

The ministry further noted that various steps have been taken to address needed changes in regulation and enforcement of measures to ensure the safety of watercraft activities.

“Safety and security on land and at sea is critically important for visitors and for the Bahamian people,” the ministry continued.

“Aggressive efforts are underway across all relevant Bahamian ministries and departments to ensure that our islands remain a destination that provides a welcoming environment where visitors enjoy our culture and our citizens enjoy economic opportunity.”

Sloan Smith

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Sloan covers national news for The Nassau Guardian. Sloan officially joined the news team in September 2016 but interned at The Nassau Guardian while studying journalism at the University of The Bahamas.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications

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