MONTEGO BAY, St James – Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett warned drug peddlars in this resort city that his ministry would be adopting a zero-tolerance against those who continue to ‘prey’ on visitors.
Signalling that the tourist harassment campaign was being intensified, Bartlett declared: “While I am prepared to work with the cultural issues, I have to eradicate the sales habits and illegalities that are inherent. Because when you pass on drugs to the visitors, you are destroying the (tourism) product, you are destroying a mind, you are breaking up a home and you are putting yourself in position to be incarcerated for a long time.”
Bartlett, speaking at last Friday’s official inauguration ceremony for members of the Tourism Courtesy Corps (TCC), also recommended that Team Jamaica assist with the training of vendors who are sometimes accused of ‘badgering’ visitors in trying to convince them to buy their goods.
According to Bartlett, the Tourism Courtesy Corps was formed as part of a three- pronged approach towards the fight against visitor harassment. TCC officers will work in collaboration with members of the state security force.
“The courtesy corps represents for us a softer, more acceptable, more congenial, more friendly and more hospitable approach to safety; it provides security with a smile,” said the minister.
A total of 120 courtesy officers who had completed training were presented at the function, hosted by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB).
The programme is designed to enhance the safety, service and comfort of visitors by strategically deploying courtesy officers in the resort areas of Negril, Montego Bay, Runaway Bay, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio and Kingston.
Marksman Limited won the contract to provide the service, while TPDCo undertook the training component which covered visitor relationship, geography of Jamaica, people and anger management. The officers have the power of detention, but not arrest.
Minister Bartlett announced that the National Works Agency would be implementing traffic management systems to allow for the smoother movement of tourist in resort areas.