By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Staff Reporter
KERZNER International plans to ramp up security at Atlantis after tourists were targeted for a second time at the resort this year.
President and managing director George Markantonis yesterday confirmed that management was working closely with police following the armed robbery of two visitors outside the Royal Towers this weekend.
The incident has renewed calls for more public support to reduce criminal activity, with Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe warning yesterday that the country is “flirting with disaster.”
Mr Wilchcombe warned that the rate of violent crime was thwarting the government’s major thrust to market the country as a tourist destination.
On Sunday, the two men were robbed at gunpoint by a dark man as they walked towards the entrance of the Royal Towers sometime after 1am.
Superintendent Paul Rolle, head of the Central Detective Unit, said: “(Victims) were just getting in (to the resort). They had taken a cab in and they were walking on the premises going to the door.”
The culprit, reportedly armed with a handgun, escaped with jewellery and an undisclosed amount of cash.
According to police, the victims were unharmed.
“Every single day we’re having to respond to concerns being raised that’s a reality and the more it happens, we get away from the image of being this wonderful nation,” said Mr Wilchcombe.
“We are flirting with disaster. The message is not getting out there to the would-be criminals because the persons who are creating these acts they have this total disregard for the negative impact that they’re having on this country.
“When things happen,” he said, “it sits on the front page of the newspapers, it’s on the web page, it’s global, it’s all over the internet. This is what happens, information does not remain idle. It floats, it travels, it reaches corners in the world where we are just trying to nurture business.”
The number of violent crimes in The Bahamas rose by one per cent against the same period last year, according to police statistics released last week.
Police launched investigations into four separate armed robberies over the weekend.
Last night, Mr Rolle said police had not made any arrests in connection with the early Sunday morning robbery at Atlantis.
Atlantis resort is the largest private sector employer in the country.
Yesterday, Mr Markantonis said the armed robbery was the resort’s second incident for the year. However, up to press time details of the first incident were not disclosed.
Mr Markantonis said: “I’m not going to comment on specific (security) measures we are taking, but I would suggest that criminals may find it detrimental to their own well-being to continue with what their doing.”
“Like everyone else in the tourism industry,” he said, “we are always very concerned about any criminal activity in our country, because it can have a huge detrimental affect on the national economy. “Nonetheless, we are very aware that the law enforcement agencies are working very hard to contain and reduce criminal activity.”
He added: “We are working very closely with (police) to ensure we do our part. In the end security is everybody’s business and everybody’s responsibility. It does not just rest on the shoulders of the police force, the entire public has to do their part.”
In an interview with The Tribune yesterday, Mr Wilchcombe called on young Bahamian men to join him in a campaign that promoted tourism for economic development.
Mr Wilchcombe said: “We’re working hard to get business to this country, we’re trying to get cruises back up and airlifts back up. Every time this stuff happens we must remember this has damaging effects in the long term.
“I call on the people of The Bahamas, particularly the young men who have found themselves engaged in acts of terror, to please cease and desist. Love your country more than you love yourself, do not compromise the country’s future for this short term gain. Why give the country long term pain?”