News, Top Story

Is a Travel Advisory for Saint Lucia Imminent?

Hilaire Shares thoughts on situation in The Bahamas and what it means for Saint Lucia

By Marvlin Anthony
Tourism Minister, Ernest Hilaire
Tourism Minister, Ernest Hilaire

AFTER recording 18 murders this month alone, the U.S. State Department issued a warning to Americans travelling to The Bahamas urging them to exercise caution.

At a press briefing on Monday, Tourism Minister Ernest Hilaire spoke on the situation noting that it is worrisome.

To date, Saint Lucia has recorded eight homicides.

Concerning the travel advisory the U.S. State Department issued, Hilaire said he hopes the crime situation does not get out of hand “and we have to face the threat of a travel advisory.”

“It’s at the back of my mind every single day,” he said.

In the advisory posted on the State Department’s website on January 26, it notes that the majority of crime occurs on New Providence (Nassau) and Grand Bahama (Freeport) islands.

“In Nassau, practice increased vigilance in the ‘Over the Hill’ area (south of Shirley Street) where gang-on-gang violence has resulted in a high homicide rate primarily affecting the local population,” the advisory warned.

Hilaire, for his part, stated that “every time I read a story about a homicide in Saint Lucia it really pains me and it’s not even so much about tourism, it’s just about our society and what it is becoming.”

Hilaire said that whilst government continues to work with law enforcement, the onus is on the police to invent strategies that can alleviate the situation.

“I know that there are a lot of discussions taking place with the police like the prime minister always says and he is absolutely right in that regard. Our role as government is to sit with the police and say to them what are your strategies, what do you need from government and then provide it for them,” he said.

The minister noted that “everybody can share their view as to how they believe this problem should be dealt with; I have my own views too. I can tell you that because of my background I’m always predisposed to support first and foremost greater social interventions to create opportunities for people; providing psychological and other support for our people to try and change patterns of life and of course law enforcement comes in when all else fails.”

He also acknowledged that crime requires different approaches and that there is no single approach that can solve the problem.

Further, he stated, individuals from various backgrounds must play their part including “the church to law enforcement to social agencies,  all of us must work to make sure we address this problem.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend