But tourists say they feel safe
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Local jet ski operators shot down the concerns of the U.S. government on Wednesday, who noted in its latest travel advisory that operators have been known to commit sexual assaults against tourists.
The U.S. Department of State released another level two advisory last week on Feb. 25, warning U.S. residents to exercise extreme caution when travelling to The Bahamas.
The level two advisory said violent crimes, including armed robberies, sexual assault and burglaries remain common “even during the day and in tourist areas.”
But earlier this week, The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism said, for the most part, thousands of visitors who travel to The Bahamas on an annual basis, do so without incident.
Jetski Operator Ishmael Sutherland said since the issuance of the U.S. advisory, they have amended some of their procedures to better serve their clients.
“I don’t feel like we are harm to tourists. We have some people that say that our method of getting business is seen as bombarding the tourists, so we don’t do that anymore,” Sutherland said.
Jetski operator, Renaldo James, who is stationed at Cabbage Beach, said that despite being labelled as an organization that harasses and bombards tourists, they take great care of those that patronize them and always ensure their safety, even more so now that their system has changed.
“We made our system an online one,” James said. “We have been dealing with trip advisor and other booking sites. You can book with us online, and these companies can advise tourists that we are the right operators for the job.”
James continued, “based on the comments, people can see that we are professional and safe.”
Sutherland said, “We take care of our people. We have the government working along with us right now, who took over the beach operations and ensured that operators are working with proper rotation.”
Sutherland said that if the advisory was to stop tourists from visiting the Bahamas, it would affect their business tremendously as they depend heavily on the cruise ships and its passengers.
“I have been doing this for 27 years and I have seen a large number of tourists who I have dealt with before come back year after year.”
As for visitors, Eyewitness News Online spoke to several tourists on Wednesday who had nothing but positive comments about their Bahamian experience, describing everyone as ‘friendly and hospitable’.
“We have been walking around Nassau all day and it’s been great, I couldn’t ask for a better first experience,” one tourist said.
“Everyone has been extremely nice and open to helping us with directions. This is my second time, and I have yet to feel unsafe,” another tourist said.
The vacationers interviewed said they will also recommend The Bahamas as a premier vacation choice and would visit again.
The Ministry of Tourism said it supports the various steps taken to address needed changes in regulation and enforcement of measures to ensure the safety of watercraft activities.