Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, says the government of Jamaica will be moving to deal with the issue of visitor harassment in the sector.
Addressing attraction owners and other stakeholders at the Ocho Rios Cruise Ship Pier, on May 20, Bartlett said harassment has become a perennial problem; which is being frowned upon by cruise officials as a nuisance to their guests.
“We have got to deal with this problem and we will. The cruise shipping market is very intense and there are other competing interests we have to contend with. We cannot allow a few bad apples to destroy what we have worked so hard to build,” Bartlett said.
He noted that while there are some visitors who are more amused than turned off by the aggressive sales tactics of some local vendors, the complaints from other guests and the cruise lines are still cause for concern.
“We however have to be aware that not everybody wants to be followed around or to be made to feel like they are obligated to buy something they absolutely have no interest in, or to be having someone touching them, or not being able to have any breathing space in which to operate. Badgering and harassment go hand in hand and we certainly don’t want our visitors to feel uncomfortable,” the tourism minister said.
He emphasised that it is in the interest of every stakeholder to ensure that visitor harassment becomes a thing of the past.
Meanwhile, Bartlett said it is counter-productive to have 4,000-5,000 people coming in on the ships and only half of them are coming off because of the problem with harassment.
“I am going to have dialogue with all the attraction owners… with all those who have to interact with the guests from the moment they get here, to the moment they leave. We have to put the mechanisms in place where they feel safe and will want to come back,” Bartlett said