Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett yesterday announced that highly regarded tourism security expert Dr Peter Tarlow would arrive on the island tomorrow to join the team carrying out an intensive security audit of the tourism sector.
Bartlett, in a release from the tourism ministry, noted that the audit of all hotels and attractions was being led by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) as part of efforts to ramp up the island’s destination-assurance programme.
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In recent weeks, tourists, particularly citizens of the United States, have been coming forward to highlight incidents of sexual assault that they have experienced at top resorts in Jamaica.
Twenty-four-year-old Demar Dowe Scott was charged after he allegedly raped two female visitors at the RIU Reggae hotel in Montego Bay, St James. Since then, the minister announced that a comprehensive audit would take place in all resorts across the island to arrive at solutions.
In yesterday’s release, the ministry noted that security arrangements were part of the licensing requirements for many sector operators, and significant weaknesses or breaches would result in tough sanctions. The ministry said that so far, more than eight properties had been audited.
Bartlett disclosed that Tarlow as well as Global Rescue – a leading global provider of medical evacuation, repatriation, and security-extraction services for individuals, enterprises, and governments – would join the audit and partner with Jamaica’s tourism destination assurance managers to construct new architecture for tourism ethics and visitor safety.
“I look forward to welcoming Dr Tarlow to the island as his visit comes at a crucial point in the development of our product. We must safeguard the key aspects of destination assurance such as security, safety, and seamlessness of our tourism product,” he said.
“Dr Tarlow and the team will help us take a step in the right direction and provide insight into legislation that may be implemented to make the industry safer as well as help us develop a new programme on how to better relate to and interact with international guests,” he continued.
The Tourism Working Group, which was recently established by Bartlett to conduct a comprehensive review of issues in the sector and which is headed by PwC senior partner Wilfred Baghaloo, will also be part of the process.
Identify security holes
The minister said that the security audit, which is to be completed by the first half of 2019, would identify gaps and ensure that the destination remained safe, secure, and seamless for visitors and locals alike.
The ministry said that during his visit, Tarlow would conduct preliminary data assessment with conclusions, provide an overview of survey instrumentation and application methodologies, and develop key performance indicators. He would also conduct a tourism safety and security seminar for relevant stakeholders.
Tarlow is a scholar in the area of tourism safety, a consultant in the tourism industry, and the founder of Tourism & More Inc. He is the author of Event Risk Management and Safety and teaches tourism safety to police chiefs around the world.