Attention please: We want to state at the beginning of this editorial that we are aware of, and are enormously proud of, the fact that Cayman has some of the most beautiful – and safe and secure – beaches in the world. We have advised, both privately and publicly, the Department of Tourism to do nothing more in its promotions than obtain a stunning photograph of Seven Mile Beach (we have dozens in our own archives which we would be delighted to donate) and use it for promotion purposes worldwide, along with a quote from U.S. News & World Report, which proclaimed SMB as “The No. 1 Beach in the World.” How can one possibly improve upon that?
And so, this editorial is not in any way to speak disparagingly about our beaches. Quite the opposite. They are THE attraction for our visiting families and our permanent residents.
Therefore, like many of our readers, we have been disturbed by stories in recent days that recount a spate of crimes, including purse-snatchings and drug use (not to mention rowdy behavior) on our public beaches.
This cannot continue. We must not allow our public beaches (and by extension our country) to be compromised by a small number of petty thieves and antisocial malcontents.
To date, we must confess, we are singularly unimpressed by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service’s response – and our politicians’ non-responses (with the notable exception of Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell) – to this overriding issue.
To the RCIPS, this needs to be your Number One Priority: You MUST safeguard our beaches.
To Commissioner Derek Byrne, you MUST NOT allow the Cayman Islands to lose their irretrievable reputation for safety and security – especially our crown jewels, our public beaches – on your watch.
In the digital age in which we all live, a single incident on a single public beach can travel around the world – and back – with a stopover on TripAdvisor within seconds. The old rules no longer apply.
And yet, following those aforementioned incidents at Seven Mile Beach, including Public Beach, Governor’s Beach and Cemetery Beach (plus an incident at Smith Cove), here was the advice, verbatim, from the police:
- Try to have at least one person stay onshore with belongings when swimming.
- If alone, consider purchasing a waterproof pouch in which you can place your keys and wallet, and take in the water.
- Leave valuables locked in your vehicle whenever possible (out of sight).
Previously, the Commissioner also spoke about acquiring some “quad bikes” and a couple of “drug dogs” to patrol our beaches.
With all due respect, this anemic response is not even close to the existential nature of the threat to our island. Our beaches must be – and be perceived to be – 100 percent safe, secure and welcoming.
To achieve such a goal will require a highly thoughtful, perhaps highly costly, strategic plan that must include input from all relevant sectors – first and foremost, of course, the police, but also prosecutors and judges, government ministries and tourism associations, and, most importantly, all of us in the Cayman Islands.
“Leave valuables locked in your vehicle whenever possible (out of sight)?”
Not even close. D-Minus.