Signs Of Dangerous Beaches.

Photo: Okoye Henry, Jamaica Government Information Service. Officials pose with newly erected warning sign that may help to reduce tourist drownings.
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Jamaica’s Tourism Product Development Company Limited recently put up 18 warning signs along the Treasure Beach coastline in St. Elizabeth to warn tourists of the possible dangers of bathing when there is no lifeguard present.

These 11 ‘Caution’ and seven ‘No Swimming’ signs span the Great Bay to Fort Charles area, warning beachgoers of some potential dangers and encouraging safety on the beach.

Speaking with JIS News, TPDCo’s Director of Product Quality and Community Tourism, Lionel Myrie, highlighted the necessity of the signs in the light of several incidents of drowning occurring in Treasure Beach over the years.

Consequently , the Ministry of Tourism, through TPDCo, and its partners have taken action to inform beach users about water conditions and safe practices.

“We have persons traversing from all walks of life to come here to utilise the beach, and they are not familiar with the location. So what we did, as a team, was to come here, consult with local stakeholders and they… guided us as to where exactly we should place these signs,” Mr. Myrie explained.

Key local stakeholders collaborating with TPDCo included Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining and Member of Parliament for St. Elizabeth South Western where Treasure Beach is located, Floyd Green; the St. Elizabeth Municipal Corporation; BREDs Treasure Beach Foundation; and National Environment and Planning Agency.

“We want to just encourage persons… when they get here, just to operate in a safe way and take heed [of the signs and] local recommendations,” Mr. Myrie stated.

“We are the agency that is tasked with Destination Assurance programme, where we ensure that our visitors, whether local or from overseas, enjoy the tourism product in a safe, secure and seamless way,” he added.

Minister Green also underscored the significance of the initiative in enhancing Treasure Beach’s community tourism product.

He mentioned plans to train residents as lifeguards and provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training to ensure quick response in the event of emergencies.

“Part of our responsibility is to communicate that [to] people who visit Treasure Beach. So, we’ve been working together with TPDCo and with local stakeholders to ensure that we raise our Destination Assurance [framework], that we focus on safety, and that we provide the information that people need so that they can make better decisions when they come into the space,” Mr. Green outlined.

Local fisherman, Bernard Sutherland, expressed support for the initiative, noting that the signs would raise awareness among visitors, especially those unfamiliar with the beach.

He said the signs will serve to spread awareness and prompt more people to ask questions about the beach, ultimately making the area safer.

“Also, anywhere you go on a beach and see fishing vessels… that is the safest area to swim,” Mr. Sutherland pointed out.

In recent months Jamaica has controversially run afoul of the United States, which has issued a travel warning for Jamaica to its citizens. An extensive list of warnings includes “avoid secluded places or situations”, which could include beaches.

Source: Jamaica Government Information Service.
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