After the captain of a Royal Caribbean ship warned passengers about rising crime rates in Nassau, a government official is lashing out about having been “blindsided” and denying the allegations.
Local Official Responds To Report
In a letter to Nassau-bound passengers, Anthem of the Seas Captain Srecko Ban advised those going ashore to avoid certain parts of Nassau in which various petty crimes had occurred in the past. Informed of the letter, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar denied the captain’s charges and speculated as to ways the Bahamas could deal with negative perceptions.
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Complaining that he did not “like to be blindsided by these reports and letters,” D’Aguilar went on to express doubts to a local media outlet that Captain Ban had ever even been to the area in question. “I’m sure he… does not know where it is, but he is opining on the face of it, which is why it is important that the Ministry of Tourism create a forum to address these concerns and some of the myths that have grown up over the years.”
D’Aguilar sarcastically added “I don’t know what [Captain Ban] apparently knows.”
Changing Negative Perceptions of Nassau
D’Aguilar went on to say that in their many talks with cruise industry officials, including reps from Royal Caribbean, none of the concerns raised in the letter had ever been brought up for discussion. He suggested that one way to help reverse the tide of negative publicity about the area was to reach out directly to cruise ship employees — who have direct interactions with passengers — as opposed to corporate executives.
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“It’s very difficult to meet with people on the front line of these cruise companies,” the Minister said. “It’s the captain, the cruise director who we need to convince that Nassau is safe. The senior executives say all the right things to us, but the reality on the ground is the front line people are not preaching from the same hymn sheet. We need to reach out to those people on the front line telling passengers these concerns.”
D’Aguilar added, “There are 10,000 passengers that come to Nassau on any given day, and I’m sure 9,999 of them don’t have a problem. But, of course, we focus on the one.”
“Nassau is as safe as any major city.”
“I don’t know of any major or significant crime happening to a cruise passenger in quite some time,” D’Aguilar told the paper. “I don’t know about petty crime, but in my humble opinion, Nassau is as safe as any other city, and the cruise companies are putting out this generic warning… as cover in the odd chance it does happen.” He concluded by suggesting that an increased police presence might help visitors and locals to feel safer and that media coverage of violent crimes which take place away from the center of tourism also help contribute to the sense that the Bahamas is more dangerous than it actually is.
Of course, all of this is playing out even as three different organizations have placed bids with the government, each hoping to be awarded a contract to rejuvenate the port and downtown Nassau area. One of the groups which placed a bid includes, as part of its mix, a consortium of cruise companies.