Cayman’s safe reputation a selling point as crime rises elsewhere
Tourism officials say Cayman must remain vigilant to maintain its reputation as a safe destination amid growing reports of crime in Caribbean destinations.
Four countries in the region – Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Honduras, and Belize – were highlighted in the Huffington Post last month among the countries with the top 10 highest murder rates in the world, based on a United Nations report.
A cruise industry website also drew attention to the problem, highlighting several Caribbean countries among the top 10 most dangerous cruise ports in the world. Cayman is not on either list, though the Cruise Law News website drew attention to a 2012 report of a sexual assault on a female cruise ship passenger. A man has been charged in relation to that assault, but remains a fugitive from justice and is wanted by Interpol.
Crimes against cruise passengers in Cayman appear to be relatively rare, though, in comparison with other destinations in the region – a record and a reputation which Councilor Joey Hew is keen to safeguard.
“We are proud of our destination’s reputation as one of the safest in the Caribbean and we are actively working with our partners in tourism to keep it that way.”
He added, “It is worth noting that the majority of crime in the Cayman Islands predominantly involves residents and visitors are not normally targeted.
“As a community, we have a low tolerance for crime, particularly against tourists as it is largely understood that rising crime is capable of causing irreparable damage to our tourism industry.”
In the Bahamas, in particular, crime against tourists is threatening the cruise industry. In March of this year, the U.S. embassy issued a security alert for citizens traveling to the Bahamas about a spate of armed robberies in the country while Carnival cruise lines revealed that it is in discussions over crime problems in the country.
Moses Kirkconnell, the tourism minister for Cayman, believes the chances of the Caribbean losing its appeal as a cruise tourism destination are relatively low.
“It is important to maintain perspective and recognize that millions of passengers cruise the Caribbean on an annual basis and the vast majority have a wonderful vacation and return time and time again.”
He said the comparative lack of crime in Cayman was a selling point for George Town, making it an attractive port on cruise itineraries.
“We’ve never had a cruise line suspend its itinerary to our island due to fears about crime which has not been the case in some neighboring countries in the Caribbean region and beyond,” he said. “Cruise line operators are keen to ensure that their customers are satisfied with their product and have the best experience possible, so the fact that Cayman is considered a safe destination certainly works in our favor.”
He said the ministry worked with the police and the Cayman Islands Tourism Association to ensure vigilance over crime against visitors.
“No visitor wants to spend their vacation in a country where they frequently have to look over their shoulder, can’t wear their jewelry for fear of it getting stolen, or where they don’t feel it is safe for themselves or their family to venture out in the evening. From an industry perspective, we are pleased that when vacationing in the Cayman Islands, visitors generally are not affected by those types of concerns.”