A destination’s crime rate is one of the major factors that can affect the decision of potential visitors.
Vigilance is therefore essential to both prevent crime and to ensure that any issues were dealt with as quickly as possible, said Jane van der Bol, executive director of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association.
“We work closely with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and support all Department of Tourism initiatives to address issues,” she noted.
“For example, if there had been a spate of break-ins to resorts we would make it known that there was an issue to our members and advise them to please beef up security and protect that area so we can help alleviate that crime.”
One relatively modern phenomenon is that all newspapers and media, including television and radio stations, are online. Therefore news can travel worldwide instantaneously, continued Mrs. van der Bol.
“Some incidents have made the international news regarding safety issues here, but the RCIPS has done extremely well to drive the crime rates down, according to latest statistics. Similarly, we have not been hearing of any gang activity locally of late so that story is not travelling internationally either.” She added that the Department of Tourism was responsible for managing stories on behalf of the government, but that the private sector tourism association was always there to assist.
Indeed, she said, there were instances in which the association’s members would report incidents to the CITA office, whilst not necessarily reporting that as a crime to the police service itself.
“We may, for example, receive independent reports of things being taken from several boats. We can alert the police to that and then together release information to our tourism association membership to be vigilant in order to nip any potential issues in the bud.”
Fundamentally, said the executive director, the Cayman Islands had always been able to sell itself as a decent, law-abiding citizenship and one of the key principles in promoting Cayman was its status as the safest island in the Caribbean.
“It is a blessing that we can still have guests walking on Seven Mile Beach early in the morning or late at night with no problems. There are no bars on any windows of any condo, villa or hotel, either.
“Whilst many other countries in the Caribbean have armed guards with guns in gated facilities, or attack dogs on patrol, the only gated facilities we have are for privacy, not safety, reasons.”
When a visitor walks into a place with guns, bars on the windows, dogs and guards, she said, the realisation was that you were in a place where there is a real safety threat.
“Luckily, we do not have these kind of compounds here where your security is no longer guaranteed outside of those walls,” concluded Mrs. van der Bol.
“We are a very positive island on being safe and we must always work together to keep it that way or visitors will simply go somewhere else.”