Police stress hotel safety after theft case

By KHRISNA VIRGIL kvirgil@tribunemedia.net POLICE say they want to stress the importance of sufficient security at hotels in the wake of two tourists claiming money was stolen from their room at the Nassau Palm Hotel on West Bay Street. Central Division commanding officer Supt Stephen Dean said the hotel's security measures are being examined as investigators continue "a process of elimination" to get to the bottom of the allegations. He said: "What we are asking them to do is to put more security measures in place to prevent that sort of thing from happening, to in a sense safeguard themselves." Last week, Mr Dean assured the public that that Nassau Palm Hotel had seen no recent or recurring problems with breaking and entering before the incident in question. The last complaints of theft from rooms at the Royal Palm were in 2005 and 2007, according to press reports. Tourism Minister Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace admitted that his ministry was concerned about the Bahamas' reputation after the story went public - particularly as the victims were said to work for a popular vacation magazine. He said: "Now that there is a story out there that says travel journalists got robbed in the Bahamas, we are very concerned." Ministry spokesperson Clarence Rolle issued a statement this week saying tourism officials "take very seriously any complaint by guests of the islands of the Bahamas. The ministry also encourages our partners such as hotels to do the same". He added that while assistance was offered to the robbery victims, police were not able to gather sufficient evidence to bring charges against anyone. On Tuesday, February 14, Californian Sharon Cummings said her visit to Nassau quickly turned into a "nightmare" after $900 was stolen from a safe in the room she shared with her husband. This week, Mrs Cummings again contacted The Tribune by email to clarify she and her husband's relationship with various US-based travel websites. She said: "We travel a great deal and seek out budget sites. We focus on Mexico, Belize and Caribbean islands and nations. "When we find exceptional values, beauty or issues, I submit our findings to various places; Budget Travel Magazine, Frommers, Fodor's and numerous popular websites." This came after it was initially reported that she wrote for Budget Travel Magazine. However, according to the Ministry of Tourism, the publication issued the following statement to local officials: "Sharon Cummings was not on assignment for Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel. In fact, we have no record of her ever having worked for the magazine." In her email, Mrs Cummings listed the websites to which she plans to submit a write-up on the incident, including Trip Advisor, Travel Worm, Travelocity, Frommers, Fodors, Bahama.com, the US state Department website, and anyone else she can think of. "The incident has already been submitted to Expedia, as they were our booking agent," she said. Messages left for the management of the Nassau Palm Hotel were not returned before press time last night.D


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