EDITORIAL: So, is crime affecting bookings, or not?

TOURISM Minister Chester Cooper was on the offensive yesterday – and given the recent spat over media coverage of murders made for interesting listening.

Mr Cooper was announcing the launch of two publicity campaigns, and the talk was of changing the narrative about The Bahamas.

Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis had previously managed to open his mouth and put his foot in it when he talked of possibly moving coverage of murders off the front pages of the newspapers and into the inside pages instead. Quickly, of course, it was pointed out that in 2012, when in opposition, Mr Davis had defended the erection of billboards that loudly declared the number of murders in the country.

Mr Davis this week urged the press to be “sensitive”, saying: “I think they should see their role as trying to help the country. I’m not saying not to report, but where you report, it may make a difference.”

Notably, this week Mr Davis said: “Right now, the hotels are seeing some fall off…”

By contrast, yesterday Mr Cooper said that projections on occupancy were up at the country’s largest resorts for the first three months of this year compared to 2023.

Tourism arrivals at Lynden Pindling International Airport are also up – by double digits, according to Mr Cooper.

So which is it? Is Mr Davis right when he says hotels have a fall off, or are bookings on the way up?

And, considering that the murder “spurt”, as National Security Minister Wayne Munroe dubbed it, began in January, one imagines many of those bookings will have been made before any widely noted increase, and likely before the travel advisories issued by the US and Canada.

Mr Cooper also suggested that analysis of supposedly negative international reports only consisted of eight percent of online coverage of the country – and that “in many instances” coverage was “intertwine” with coverage of a US travel warning about Jamaica.

Given that was not the case with media houses here in The Bahamas, one wonders quite why the Prime Minister is turning his voice against local journalists at all.

The travel campaigns are welcome – anything to encourage more income to our shores is a good thing – but if the figures presented by Mr Cooper are correct, there seems to be no slowdown in tourism, rather it continues to speed up.

Once tourists get here, there have been concerns about whether they are putting money into the economy – taxi fares, excursions, store purchases and so on – or staying in the perceived greater safety of the hotel.

But is this it? The big concern over media coverage is some international coverage that report on warnings in the region, while the hotel bookings keep going up?

It seems to have been an ill-advised assault on media freedoms.

Credit then to the Bahamas Press Club for also standing up to add a voice to the discussion.

The club’s president, Anthony Capron, wrote in a note last night: “Freedom of the press in any country is a signal that the democratic principals are functioning in the best interest of its citizens. This is a thought Prime Minister the Hon Philip Davis should keep in mind when seeking to instruct the Bahamian media on the placement of murder stories in the newspapers.”

He added: “Already, there is no automatic access to Freedom of Information, and the excuse being used to relegate crime news to the inside pages is, it will be damaging to the tourism economy.

“Mr Prime Minister, this directive will not fly. The media will not sit idly and be told what it can and cannot do.”

Mr Capron is right, and we salute him for saying so. We would also add that relegating what matters to Bahamians who live and work here to the interests of visiting tourists is tantamount to saying that locals are not as important as outsiders.

The solution to all of this, of course, lies not in the pages of the newspapers or the placement of stories – but in stemming the bloodshed on the streets in the first place.

We are quite sure when that happens, the government will not be giving credit to the media for it – and rightly so – nor should it blame the media when the killings happen. The problem is far more complex than that, but blaming the messenger is a sure sign of a shortage of solutions.


birdiestrachan 2 months, 1 week ago

Mr Cooper continue to do the good work the best for the Bahamad be careful what you say because it will be twisted Mr Davis made a suggestion.

Made a suggestion to see what happned to that


birdiestrachan 2 months, 1 week ago

Dr Sand spoke to the Miami heareld what did he expect to achieve by going to them Ms Charles seems fair In her report doc sands should tell them about his Frank Smith story


JackArawak 2 months, 1 week ago

Birdie, you talking to yourself again


birdiestrachan 2 months, 1 week ago

And sands is talking to the Mismi hereld


Honestman 2 months, 1 week ago

Davis won't be happy until the media reports murders in a postage stamp section of the classifieds!


bobby2 2 months, 1 week ago

The truth is, tourists will still come, but won't leave the safety of their Resorts Property if fly ins or safety of ship if a cruiser!


birdiestrachan 2 months, 1 week ago

Many are upset mostly Fnm because they seem to take victory laps when murders occur

Now they have problems with road blocks imagine that it is all right if murders occur just do no cause Them any inconvenience


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