Travel advisories on TT crime
US must be sensitive
By JULIEN NEAVES Wednesday, March 12 2014
POLICE Service Commission (PSC) member Martin George has called for collaboration and sensitivity by United States officials before issuing travel advisories warning their citizens about crime in Trinidad and Tobago.
“Recognise in a similar way that when you had your (September) 9/11 (terrorist attack) or you had the terrorist attacks in London countries didn’t rush en masse to issue warnings against the USA or London to say do not travel to the (US or) the United Kingdom. So there must be some quid pro quo in that respect and there must be some element of sensitivity in terms of pursuing your warnings,” he said.
He made the comments on Monday while delivering the vote of thanks following the opening ceremony of the Police Service Commission offices at the corner of Churchill-Roosevelt Highway and Pasea Main Road, Tunapuna.
He later told the media: “We understand that these things would happen and we would deal with it and we expect our citizens would still travel (to these countries) and the same way we expect their citizens would continue to travel here even if there is a murder or two in Laventille. We will ensure their safety, we’ll do our best to try and make things better but you can’t just issue advisories in a damaging way without regard for the consequences.”
He advised that the US officials hold some discussions prior to issuing these advisories.
“There must be some consultation. There could be a reason (for the particular crime issue). It might be something isolated that may not affect tourists at all. How many tourists venturing up into Snake Alley or Mango Alley up in Laventille? So if you have murders occurring up there and tourists are staying along the Churchil Roosevelt Highway, going to other places and they not going up there then why would you issue an advisory against the whole country…based on that. That’s the difficulty I’m having,” he said.
George added, “At the end of the day, not because there may be, you know, one or two murders in Laventille or so, that you issue an advisory immediately and warn people not to travel to Trinidad and Tobago.”
He noted that other Caribbean countries would publish these advisories in their national media as part of regional tourism competition.
“Is headline news in Barbados. Headline news in St Kitts. Because they now fighting for tourism so they want to say ‘well look, don’t go Trinidad, come here’,” he said.
In September last year Member of Parliament for St Ann’s East, Joanne Thomas, expressed concern that travel advisories from the US, Canada and the United Kingdom warning its citizens about crime in this country could negatively affect local tourism. The issues highlighted in the advisories included that violent crime remained high on both islands and crimes such as assault, kidnapping for ransom and sexual assault have involved expatriate, residents and tourists.
An advisory from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office last year warned British nationals to be cautious about the high level of gang activity in inner city areas east of Port-of- Spain including Laventille, Morvant and Barataria.
Taken from the Trinidad Newsday Newspapers