KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – The local Coast Guard last week begun nightly patrols in Bequia in response to a recent spate of yacht burglaries there, Tourism Minister Saboto Caesar told Parliament yesterday.
Caesar said these patrols are expected to continue and that Cabinet has approved the use of three confiscated vessels to be used in the fight against crime.
The vessels are being refurbished and one will be deployed to Bequia within two weeks, Caesar said.
In addition, two yacht operators will donate to the local Coast Guard a vessel to be used to patrol in and around the harbour in Bequia.
Caesar said that the crime-fighting efforts at sea are being complemented by increased police presence on land.
There has been strategic changes in police personnel on the Northern Grenadine island and a regular stop and search system has been instituted.
Efforts are also underway to establish a water taxi association and a special committee has been formed in that regard.
Further, a study is being conducted to explore the feasibility of having cameras installed in certain crime-prone locations on Bequia.
“There are certain things though, Mr. Speaker, that I am privy to but because of their technical nature. … because they are matters of security, I would not be able to say in public. But I just want to note, there are many things which are happening in a very covert manner,” Caesar said.
He noted that yacht visits to this country were up 7.4 per cent between January and September this year, compared to the same period last year.
Caesar further noted that agriculture and tourism have come under attacks of criminality for decades but legislation has been passed to deal with predial larceny.
“Mr. Speaker, I take my job very seriously because I know that tourism has the potential to be transformative sector in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And I want to send a very stern message … from this side of the House to persons who think they can continue to engage in illicit activities that would have a damning and negative impact on tourism, that Saboto Caesar, I would not sit idly by and allow anyone to destroy this very important sector,” the Tourism Minister said.
Caesar was responding to a question from Member of Parliament for the Northern Grenadines, Dr. Godwin Friday.