The Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA) has expressed concern about the level of criminal activity against visitors in Saint Lucia.
“It is very concerning and it is something that we have got to pay attention to,” SLHTA Chief Executive Officer, Noorani Azeez said in relation to crime on the Island, adding that criminal activity will not have a positive effect on the image of the destination internationally.
He noted that because social media represent the environment in which guests seek information before making a decision on a vacation, Saint Lucia has to be very mindful of how it treats and addresses criminal activity.
“That information is going to reach far and wide in a very short space of time,” the SLHTA official stated.
Azeez said he personally feels for the concerns of victims and sympathises with them.
“I think perhaps we need to reach out to them a bit more frequently, give them an update as to what is going on if it is not already being done, provide more timely status of what’s happening if it is not already being done – you know, I think more engagement will help to address some of the pain that they are going through right now, as well as making the necessary resources available so that the legal system can process these and other outstanding cases,” he said.
According to reports in publications including the Sun and Mail Online, British Doctor, Georgina Mortimer said she was raped while on a women-only sailing break in Saint Lucia in February this year.
The 45 year old British doctor, a mother of two, was attacked in her bedroom at Rodney Bay within hours of arriving, according to the reports.
According to YBW.com, her attack lasted 15 minutes, with the rapist fleeing after someone started knocking on her door.
Mortimer discovered that in the last year, there have been 60 cases of rape reported in St Lucia, the online source said.
SLHTA CEO, Noorani Azeez, has declared that one case of rape is too many.
“We have seen destinations reel as a result of reduced arrival figures as a result of one murder or criminal activity being perpetrated against a guest,” Azeez said.
He observed that tourism continues to be this country’s ‘bread and butter’.
“As a country – as a people we have got to do what we can to be vigilant and address these issues. But you know, it is one thing to talk the talk but it is another thing to walk the walk,” the SLHTA official observed.
He noted that crime is a build up of several factors including socioeconomic, mental health and other issues as well as a feeling of perhaps being marginalised for too long and failure to identify with society.
“These are things that we have got to get our best minds together on and our best psychologists on. We have got to increase the number of social programmes that we provide to our kids,” Azeez asserted.
He explained that the hospitality industry has been trying to do its part, but expressed the view that there is need for a more coordinated effort.