J.O. Staff Writer:
MONTEGO BAY, St James — International security expert Dr Peter Tarlow is warning that failure to protect the tourism Industry is tantamount to committing economic suicide.
“If we do not care about the tourism industry we are committing economic suicide. And we are in the same way destructive,” Dr Tarlow argued.
Addressing tourism stakeholders, including portfolio minister Edmund Bartlett and Security Minister Dr Horace Chang during a tourism safety and security forum, held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on Monday, Dr Tarlow underscored that large sums have to be spent to patch up tarnished reputation.
“Where you lose on your reputation will cost millions of dollars, be they Jamaican dollars or American dollars, in order to recover,” the native American security guru pointed out.
“It’s not what happens, it’s how you deal with it.”
He argued that it should not be left up to the police alone to prevent the perpetration of crime against tourists, but that all hands should be on deck.
“We have the belief that it costs an incredible amount of money for tourism security. It doesn’t. Because tourism well-being should not be the responsibility only of the police department. And, obviously, they (police) have to be the leaders — I don’t take that away for a moment. Tourism well-being is the responsibility of every citizen of Jamaica. Because when I come here I am a guest in your home. And if you didn’t want me — okay, we are out of the tourism business. But tourism is the world’s largest industry, it creates tremendous economic well-being,” Dr Tarlow remarked.
He was, however, quick to note that “no matter how good the police are, you are always going to have some crime”.
“The issue is not in tourism well-being that we will make 100 per cent crime-free — it will never happen. It’s a pipe dream. What we do want to do is when something happens you know I care. And if you know I am there to take care of you and to make sure that we have turned it around, that’s the spirituality of tourism security. It doesn’t mean I take anything away from technology or guns or drones or anything else; they all play their part, but the drone cannot tell me I care. I need a human being to do that and that’s the part where we train people to be able to handle those things,” he said.
Dr Tarlow arrived in the island on Sunday to guide consultations with top officials of the tourism ministry, its agencies and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) as well as a safety and security seminar for top industry players.
The consultations, which began on Monday, will end today.
Dr Tarlow is a scholar in the area of tourism safety and consultancy.
He is the founder of Tourism and More Inc and teaches tourism safety to police chiefs across the globe.
He has done work with the Canadian Mounted Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), as well as the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.