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Beache wants more tour guides on trail

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Tourism Minister Glen Beache is cautioning Vincentians not to get carried away with their security recommendations for popular tourist sites in the wake of the shocking rape of two American teenagers recently in the vicinity of the La Soufriere Mountain.

The incident, which sparked a public outcry and concerns about the possible negative fall out if a travel advisory was placed on St. Vincent by the US, triggered a barrage of suggestions leveled at the “powers that be”, including the establishment of security booths in “high risk” areas including the Vermont Nature Trial, Trinity Falls and La Soufriere mountain trail.{{more}}

“Emotions may run high after an incident like what just happened, but the suggestion of security posts is just not possible,” declared Minister Beache.

Beache told SEARCHLIGHT that the cost of hiring a security firm or any such move will be much more than can be afforded at this time. Beache however believes that simple things can be put in place to lessen the possibility of crimes against tourists even though it could never be totally eradicated.

“We need a specific amount of tour guides per number of tourists on a tour.” This was one of the steps the minister said should be put in place to combat the problem. He is also advocating that tour guides be mandated to have radios with at least a five mile radius to deal with the possible dead signal that cell phones can experience in such remote areas.

Responding to the other security challenge of robbery aboard yachts, Minister Beache alluded to the proposal by the Palm Island Resort owners for the management of the Tobago Cays which included security management in the surrounding seas, including Mayreau Island. This he said was met with forceful objections, led by the group “Friends of Tobago Cays” out of Union Island. “People played politics with the issue when it was a matter of management,” claimed Beache.

After a recent press conference at his Cruise Ship Berth office, Minister Beache had told SEARCHLIGHT that boats seized by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) may soon be used to help patrol the waters of the Southern Grenadines as efforts are made to clamp down on crimes committed against tourists.

Several popular anchorages throughout St Vincent and the Grenadines have been targeted by negative elements for the break-in of yachts and other crimes against tourists. The Minister admitted that there is a need for more patrols, but wanted to remind all concerned that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a developing nation, operating on a limited budget; and so the purchase of appropriate vessels for the coast guard and the increasing of manpower, must be tempered by the reality of the limited funds available. The most recent vessel bought for the Coast Guard cost the Government $2 million.

Minister Beache told SEARCHLIGHT that the Tourism ministry is already operating on the very inadequate marketing budget of $5.6 million so there is really no money to spare.

On a positive note, tourist police, trained by the police, patrolling the Villa and Indian Bay beaches have had a great impact on crime against tourists on these beaches, which at one time threatened to get out of hand.

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