By Staff Writer
The tragic drowing of an American tourist at Reggae Beach has caused the Minister of Tourism to call for heavier policing of the area to make certain all policies and laws are being strictly observed.
Minister of Tourism The Hon. Lindsay Grant said that while there is no need for new policies, there does exist a need for a firmer approach to protect visitors and to make sure policies and laws are being followed. The tourist drowned after falling off a Jet Ski while with companions from a cruise ship.
Mr. Grant did admit his ministry was understaffed in its policing division, adding, “We have a product facet within the Ministry that is supposed to carry out that task. However, it is about how many persons you have policing the system. Maybe what we need to do is try to ensure that we get more persons on board.”
He made his remarks to The Observer during a Wednesday interview.
The Ministry did make several changes in the sector over the past 12 months. Recently the Ministry put new policies in effect for the taxi and tour operators, including carrying out training programs for them.
Grant said, “We would not be instituting changes because of the accident, but we are embracing change in all facets of the industry. For example, we now have regulations for vendors, for water sports and for beach vendors.” He said some of the new policies did not receive total agreement from the vendors, but that the government is making all of them toe the line. Those who disobey the government’s policies will be liable for fines and the possible suspension of their licenses.
He pointed to one rule that requires Safari tour operators to have chains on sides of their vehicles to prevent tourists from being thrown from the vehicle in case of an accident. That mandate was re-enforced last year when a driver of a Safari vehicle had an accident while headed downhill on a slippery slope on Timothy Hill.
The Observer has reported that several individuals suffered non-life threatening injuries that required treatment at the hospital.
Grant did note that there is one new policy before the Cabinet for consideration. However, he would not disclose what it is to thsi newspaper and added that consultation is needed before it would be implemented.