Customer satisfaction is paramount to the Ministry of Tourism, and it depends on favourable interactions between visitors and the hosts. These interactions affect positive word of mouth advertising, repeat business and growth in the industry. The Tourism Product Development Company Ltd (TPDCo) -the agency with responsibility for enhancement of the tourism product has, under the direction of the Ministry of Tourism established a Visitor Safety and Experience Unit. The objectives of the unit are as follows:
- To identify and examine threats posed by harassment to the Tourism Industry
- Identify areas that need to be targeted in the anti-harassment initiative
- Identify strategies to be implemented to increase visitor safety and create a positive experience.
Tourism contributes to 10% of Jamaica’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It impacts sectors such as agriculture, construction, finance and banking, manufacturing, utilities and government taxes. It is the largest earner of foreign exchange for the country. One of the greatest deterrents to the industry achieving its fullest potential is harassment which manifests in aggressive vending, providers acting in contravention of our licenses etc. Several steps have been taken to curb the existing challenges. Including the establishment of sub committees in those resort areas that are most challenged. Enforcement by tourism liaison officers, police officers, marine police and tourism courtesy corp officers who police the resorts has been stepped up. Stakeholders are also being engaged through multi agency collaborations and information sharing in order to be more effective. Improved signage, increased numbers of police officers in resort areas with joint briefings and patrols. An improved resource closed circuit television (CTV) and public education, social intervention and a review of statutes for clarification, relevance and appropriateness of sanctions is another area being pursued.
What constitutes harassment?
Harassment occurs from the perspective of the person being harassed. If by your actions the visitor feels pestered or irritated then it does not matter that you are trying to make a sale, or interest them in something. Other ways of describing harassment include being a nuisance, annoyance, aggravation, provocation or bother.
Examples of harassment
- When a visitor feels stressed because of persistently being intercepted and offered taxi services, walking tours, hair braiding, money changing etc and are asked to visit shops or are pestered to make a purchase.
- When a visitor (male or female), is approached by someone soliciting an unwanted sexual relationship either for a payment or on a volunteer basis (sexual harassment).
- The use of obscene language or gestures to make tourists feel annoyed or threatened (verbal abuse).
- Where tourists are approached with aggressive actions, this can be an abusive encounter or insult, suggesting bodily mistreatment is likely (physical abuse).
- Where there are cases of crime-oriented activities related to drugs (peddling of drugs).