By LETRE SWEETING
LOCAL AirBnB owners have voiced concerns about the possible impact escalating crime will have on their businesses a day after Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis said he does not think the country’s crime rate will affect tourism.
Renee Johnson is the owner of Bahamian Touch Private Rentals, an AirBnB in the Cable Beach area that caters to local and international clientele. She said although her business has not been affected personally, she feels the crime rate in The Bahamas will have a trickle effect on all tourism related businesses.
“I don’t think it’s a good look, because I may not be affected now, but definitely in the long run, I’m sure it will have a trickle down effect on AirBnBs as well as any tourist related business. As far as the crime rate, I only could speak generally, it will definitely have a trickle down effect on everybody,” Ms Johnson said.
“For instance, my AirBnB is in the Cable Beach area and if people go online and do research and if there are any activities (crime) in that area like that, then, of course, people would want to go over PI (Paradise Island) or something like that where they feel like no crime exists,” she said.
Ms Johnson said due to safety concerns on the island in general she has to alert guests to certain things based on what they plan to do.
“Now as far as when people come, I would have to definitely alert them to certain things, you know to caution them not to go certain places,” she said. “For me, I believe it would be in my best interest to find out from people in advance what type of activities they do. I do that now, to kind of guide them to what I believe are the safer practices.”
Selena Sweeting, owner of an AirBnB in the Winton area, echoed Ms Johnson’s statements. She said she has not experienced any major impact, but she has noticed tourists have been taking more precautions when booking and travelling.
“At this present time, crime has not had a direct effect on my business so far. However, I have had a few cancellations by persons who wanted to vacation in a part of the country that they felt was tourist oriented,” she said.
“As today’s tourists are smarter and more travelled, they often do their research beforehand and now they follow with a million and one questions concerning safety issues. I have not been directly impacted by the spate of crime directly, but I do find myself taking greater precautions,” she said.
Owners of an AirBnB on West Bay Street near Arawak Cay said they have put certain prevention methods in place.
“Overall, crime would definitely affect the community and we strive to put certain things in place to ensure that they’re (our clients) safe, to prevent things like that from happening. We have a lot of cameras on our property,” they said.
“We look out for the clients, we make contact with them on a regular basis, once they’re here to ensure they’re ok. We check on them, answer any questions they may have to make sure it is smooth and they enjoy their stay.
“Tourists are now more comfortable going to the hotels. We have not had any incidents in our neighbourhood that has really caused us to be concerned, but in the AirBnB community, you get blacklisted very quickly if situations arise that a client complains about,” they said.
These concerns were voiced after Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis said on Monday that he doesn’t believe the country’s crime rate would affect the nation’s tourism product, despite continued warnings for American citizens to “exercise increased caution” in The Bahamas due to crime.
Mr Davis made these statements after Robert Sands, Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association’s (BHTA) president called for a more aggressive and unified approach by all members of society to combat crime, noting its impact on the country’s tourism industry.