The President of the Saint Lucia Vendors Association, Peter “Ras Ipa” Isaac, has warned that escalating crime in the city could drive cruise lines to consider dropping Saint Lucia from their itinerary.
Isaac, in an interview with the Times, recalled that Norwegian Cruise Lines, (NCL), dropped St. Lucia from its 2010-2012 schedule because of attacks on cruise passengers.
The Vendors Association President said he was concerned that other cruise lines may decide to take similar action, citing what he described as daily muggings of both visitors and locals in the Saint Lucia capital.
Isaac cited an incident in Sans Soucis recently where two elderly visitors were set upon by some young thugs who grabbed the woman’s handbag, while her male companion unsuccessfully tried to retrieve the item.
He disclosed that the youngsters ran off with the stolen handbag.
“Persons have come to me and said that things have been stolen from their children, things of value like chains grabbed from them,” he told the Times.
According to Isaac, a lot of vendors and citizens feel unsafe and are afraid to walk the streets out of fear of being attacked and robbed.
“ We are facing a very serious problem in Castries,” the Vendors Association President asserted.
He recalled another recent incident in which a visitor’s chain was grabbed, leaving scratch marks from the attacker on her neck.
Isaac lamented that the victim had to return to her cruise ship without having been met by any law enforcement official.
“There is a Tourism Officer employed by the Ministry of Tourism. What is he doing?” He asked.
Isaac noted that with Tourism being the pillar of the national economy, the sector was too important for its success to be undermined by a few criminals.
As a result he called on the Minister of Tourism and local authorities to take urgent steps to seriously address the problem of crime in the City, including reintroducing Rangers and the Police Rapid Response Unit and firing the Tourism Officer if necessary.
Isaac felt that the Police have come under so much pressure in recent time that they appear to be adopting a laid back attitude.
He cited a recent incident at the Courts during which a young murder suspect made threatening gestures to reporters and spat at them .
“The Police did nothing to stop it, as if they were saying deal with that,” Isaac declared.