Bahamas visitor safety initiative to be launched

Nassau, The Bahamas – Taking a proactive approach towards ensuring that visitors to the Bahamas are provided with the safest environment possible, the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) and the Ministry of Tourism have teamed up with business and civic partners to establish the Bahamas Visitor Safety and Security Board.

The plans for the initiative are being developed at a daylong workshop held on Thursday, September 22 which focused on the range of issues and activities which are important to the safety of our visitors and towards safeguarding our nation’s economy.

“This is an idea whose time has come,” stated Ministry of Tourism Director General Vernice Walkine, who first discussed it with Police Commissioner Paul Farquharson a few months ago and discovered that they both had similar thoughts.

“Surveys in the United States reveal that safety has become the primary issue of importance when choosing a travel destination. While the Bahamas is relatively safe, given the large number of visitors which we have, it is our goal to ensure that the question of safety is far removed from every visitor’s mind,” added Ms. Walkine.

Commissioner Farquharson echoed Ms. Walkine’s comments adding, “The safety and security of our visitors must be everyone’s business, just as tourism is everyone’s business. We are all stakeholders.” Having looked at partnership models elsewhere throughout the world, the Commissioner and Director General are convinced that collaboration between all stakeholders is key to improving visitor safety and has invited a range of stakeholders to assist in planning the new initiative.

“We need the ideas, the energy and the goodwill of stakeholders, public and private, to put this effort together and sustain it” stated the Commissioner. He has already pledged resources to the new effort.

Over 200 people will participate in the planning session including representatives from the Police, Defence Force, the Ministry of National Security, the Ministry of Tourism, the Attorney-General’s Office, key Government Departments, the United States Embassy, the Bahamas Hotel Association, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce, the Nassau Tourism & Development Board, union, transportation, vendor and security interest. Grand Bahama and the Family Islands will also be well represented.

Participants will focus on five critical areas to identify priority activities which can be undertaken to improve visitor safety. These will include: education and training; public awareness; advocacy; environmental design support measures; and communication and coordination. In addition, the participants will help to establish the structure of the Bahamas Visitor Safety and Security Board, a newly established public-private sector entity which will help to guide the range of new initiatives.

“We will be unleashing the creative energies of the workshop participants to help put this new initiative in place,” stated Ms. Walkine. “This is just the beginning. The Ministry of Tourism and the Royal Bahamas Police Force are committed to the effort and we are encouraged by the initial support we have received from groups like the Hotel Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the Nassau Tourism & Development and Safe Bahamas.”

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