By DANA SMITH
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE country’s high crime levels could “ruin” the tourism industry, Prime Minister Perry Christie said yesterday afternoon.
He said crime “goes against” what the government is trying to do with respect to tourism and the country’s reputation and also spoke on new “anchor projects” for the Family Islands that could help unemployment rates.
He was addressing nearly 150 Breezes Resort employees who were honoured for their years of service to the hotel, with many of the honourees having served for more than 15 years.
“The behaviour of our people could ruin a wonderful career that you have ahead of you,” Mr Christie told the crowd. “Crime has become an incredible challenge to this island, in particular, and we have to bring it under control.”
While some may think crime is “localised in over-the-hill communities” the reality is crime affects all parts of the island, he said.
“If we allow a culture of violence to continue unabated, then it becomes exactly that - a culture that young people swim into where there’s a complete disregard for life,” he said.
“It goes against what we’re trying to do here at Breezes, what we’re trying to do in the tourism industry, what we’re trying to do in respect to the reputation of our country.
“It is so easy to accept things because it is not your responsibility. What I’m asking you to do is to ensure that you understand that to the extent that you are able to influence members of your family, friends, members of anything you belong to, to understand the relationship between good and orderly behaviour and the success of our country and the success of your job, then you will be doing the works of a good citizen of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.”
However, Mr Christie said, despite the country’s crime levels he is still “optimistic” about the future of the nation.
“I have a sense that we are going to be able to create some anchor developments in our islands, which itself will stem the tide of people coming from the islands to New Providence and to Grand Bahama looking for jobs,” he said.
“We are working very, very hard to cause these things to happen as quickly as possible and we know its happening in Bimini, we know it’s happening in Eleuthera, we know it’s happening in Exuma and the Exuma Cays, we know it’s going to happen in San Salvador again in terms of an expansion of the product. We know all of those things.”
The prime minister also indicated that “the next two or three years on (Nassau) are going to be very challenging years” for the government as a large number of new rooms are being introduced to western New Providence.
After noting Atlantis is reporting “very good” bookings, he explained that when Baha Mar takes off, he expects the western New Providence district to expand.
“I expect that and I’m hoping that my government is able to put in place the policies and the resources to dedicate to creating a greater awareness in the marketplace for these things to happen,” he said.
Mr Christie paid tribute to the Breezes employees for their “quality service” to the hotel, as well as to the country’s tourism industry, and also paid tributes to the hotel itself, noting that Breezes was one of the first all-inclusive hotels in the Bahamas.