Minister Skerritt was contacted for comment, by members of the local media fraternity, including MiyVue.com, less than 24 hours after 17 tourists – who were aboard a tour bus – where robbed by masked gunmen. The Minister’s response to MiyVue was, “I am sure I have several comments. I just don’t share my thoughts on this with the press. I am not at the point where I am interested in speaking to the press about this matter.”
Skerritt appeared at a press conference hosted by the Ministry of National Security yesterday (16th Nov.), during which he was asked by MiyVue about his reasoning for not offering comment about the unprecedented incident.
The Tourism Minister explained that when he received the calls from the media operatives, he indicated to them that he generally does not give any comment on “police matters which are under police investigation.”
Notwithstanding, however, Skerritt chose then to comment on the matter – which was still under investigation – citing that it “has effectively come to an important juncture which tells me that the police have now zoomed in and captured the people who they have good reason to feel are the perpetrators.”
The Minister suggested that while he has respect for the media, the media has to respect “the fact that I have my own style as a minister. I set about to do things in a focused way. I focus on tourism and international travel. I am not a spokesman on crime. I do not speak on behalf of the security forces or on behalf of the Ministry of National Security.”
MiyVue indicated to Minister Skerritt that the expectation was not for him to comment on the police aspect of the incident but rather to seek to allay the fears of stakeholders in the tourism industry.
“…And so you think the Minister of Tourism can allay fears right after that happens…that that will not happen again? They heard from the Deputy Prime Minister last night and I think he did a tremendous job on that.”
Skerritt, unwavering in his position, expressed that, “If I really felt that speaking to (MiyVue) was going to give us significant momentum in what we were trying to achieve in tourism I certainly would have spoken to her, (the reporter), at the time as I will certainly speak with her again in the future.
“And so I will not always speak to the media exactly when and how the media wants and hope that you will understand that. In terms of those out there in the public who have tried to make this an issue, I’m surprised that they have other issues to deal with but such is the nature of the freedom of the social media. Social media is about people expressing their opinions and their views, many of them without even too much thought, but that is the right of all people. And whatever was interpreted by my decision to stay quiet on the criminal aspect of this issue, on the matter to do with the crime itself that was my judgment call. And for those who may be offended, I want you to know it was not meant as an offence.”