Incident threatened reputation of Federation as a destination, says Minister Skerritt
Minister of Tourism and International Transport Sen. the Hon. Richard “Ricky” Skerritt making the statement in the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly on Thursday (photo by Erasmus Williams)
ST. KITTS, NOVEMBER 25TH 2010 (CUOPM) – St. Kitts and Nevis Minister of Tourism, Sen. the Hon. Richard “Ricky” Skerritt says the recent incident at Brimstone Hill two weeks ago “has left a deep wound on the good name of St. Kitts and Nevis abroad, and has seriously threatened the reputation of the destination as a safe and welcoming place for visitors.”
“Thousands of Kittitians and Nevisians everywhere have expressed shock and rejection of this cowardly and senseless act of a handful of our citizens and many locally did all they could to provide information to help the Police capture the perpetrators,” said Minister Skerritt in a lengthy statement in the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly Thursday.
He told Parliamentarians and the nation that the process of healing “our wounds internationally will have to be ongoing and will need the help of all well wishers everywhere; and there must be no doubt that the tourism related public relations and sales recovery efforts in the marketplace will need to be closely coupled locally with the implementation of a comprehensive security plan designed to build a proactive and pre-emptive culture in our overall National security programming and community policing.”
“Mr. Speaker, predictably this incident has also sparked much local debate about security in our Federation in general, and policing in particular. Much has been said and will continue to be said about Government’s crime fighting efforts. This is an issue which is very close to all Kittitians and Nevisians, especially those of us who have been ourselves the victims of crime. There can be no doubt therefore that the strongest possible focus needs to be brought to bear on how this country is addressing the problem of crime and what can be done to improve the effectiveness of our Security forces,” said Minister Skerritt.
He made it clear that any actual or perceived failures of this Government or the Security forces, or any public alarm to do with the higher than acceptable levels of crime in the communities, “does not justify the malicious efforts by some bad-minded, misguided and politically obsessed individuals to use this incident as a weapon in their strategy to undermine this lawfully elected government, and to knowingly set out to damage our tourism industry in the process.”
“Mr. Speaker, over the past several days, while some of us on this side of the House were toiling long hours with international damage control and tourism business recovery, some on the opposition benches along with a few of their angry, desperate and power-hungry allies, were creating and reveling in a local radio and social media frenzy with no regard whatsoever for the possible international repercussions of their words and actions.
Mr. Speaker, though not completely surprising, it has indeed been disappointing and disgusting to observe the local political vultures scheming, swooping and openly feeding on the wounds of this incident including the misfortune of 17 of our international guests, and without regard for the ensuing loss of tourism income for hundreds of nationals and the risk of collapse of our tourism sector. I will say more about this unfortunate aspect of this incident at a more appropriate time,” he told Parliament.
Minister Skerritt said that the main purpose of his statement is to report on tourism recovery efforts in the interest of all citizens, rather than on the dangerous and disgraceful behavior of a handful of misguided arm chair critics and political desperados.