By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE scourge of crime and its implications to the tourism economy will be one of the subjects when scores of international and local officials convene the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) conference next month.
According to Earlston McPhee, Director of Sustainable Development in the Tourism Ministry, yesterday, crime is not only a challenge for the Bahamas, but for other small island countries.
Under the theme “Tourism as a Key Sector for Development in Island States”, the two-day meeting is a collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the Inter-American Development Bank.
The announcement of the conference comes just days after US Embassy officials issued a crime warning to Americans living in and travelling to New Providence and Grand Bahama. In the advisory, the murders of two Americans over the past eight months and numerous armed robberies were pinpointed.
“Crime,” said Mr McPhee, “is an element that is impacting tourism in the region and globally. And (the) agencies that we work with in the United Nations World Tourism Organisations and the Inter-American Development Bank, they recognise that as one of the threats to tourism and overall national development in small island states.
“There will be a session that will deal with aspects, not only of crime, but other elements that can impact the tourism sector. Food safety is one of the aspects so there will be a number of elements included in just the security of our visitors.
“Our job is to ensure that our visitors get the greatest experience as possible.”
The conference will host around 200 persons. It will be held at the Melia Nassau Beach Resort on February 19 and 20 as a part of the government’s celebration of Tourism’s 50 year golden jubilee. Several events have been planned to honour the milestone for the entire month of February.
These include a transformation of Junkanoo Beach at West Bay Street to host cultural activities. Similar activities are to take place at other popular tourist hot spots.
Among other subjects, a Sustainability Expo for students in New Providence to explore concepts of sustainability and to encourage students to pursue careers in sustainable development is also planned.