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Member of Parliament for the Northern Grenadines, Dr. Godwin Friday. (File photo)
Member of Parliament for the Northern Grenadines, Dr. Godwin Friday. (File photo)

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, April 17, IWN – Parliamentary Representative for the Northern Grenadines, Dr. Godwin Friday, wants the government do more to protect yacht visitors (yachties), even as he said a patrol boat commissioned in Bequia this year seems to be working.

Friday, along with his Southern Grenadines counterpart, Terrance Ollivierre, and Opposition Leader, Arnhim Eustace, spoke on Eustace’s radio programme on Monday of the security concerns of yacht visitors here.

“It is extremely important that we sound the alarm when there are issues that create problems for the yachts as they come here,” Friday said in a telephone call to the programme.

“… because, when they stop coming or they come for shorter periods of time or come in fewer numbers, everybody suffers,” Friday further stated.

He added that his comments were “not a question of partisanship or trying to make the country look bad or that sort of stuff”.

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Friday has repeatedly highlighted in Parliament, and via the media, the problems of crime against yachties in Bequia.

The Government this year commissioned a vessel to patrol the waters of Bequia, and Friday said that while the move “took way too long”, it seems to be working.

He said he hopes the patrol vessel will becomes a permanent part of the security strategy on the island and will inspire confidence in yachties to visit.

The opposition legislators noted the importance of the yachting sector to the local and national economies.

“It really is a trickle down effect,” Friday said, adding that he knows the impact on businesses when yachts don’t visit.

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace. (File photo).
Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace. (File photo).

Meanwhile, Eustace said that 27,800 of the 117,900 visitors to this country during the first half of 2012 came via yacht.

During that period, visitors to the country spent EC$143.3 million and Eustace said a significant amount of that figure was spent by yachties.

Further, of the 88,000 yacht visitors to the nine-member Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States in the first half of 2012, almost 28,000 of them came to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Eustace said.

“It represents a big share of our tourist market. … It means that the revenue you earn for tourism is very dependent also on what is happening with the yachts. …

“So we really need to spend some time, the government needs to get their act together and spend some time trying to lift the levels, improving security so that people feel comfortable to stay here,” Eustace said.

He further said that during the first half of 2011, 27,600 visitors came by yacht.

But Eustace added that the figures have declined compared to previous years.

“And part of the reason for the decline in yachts is the lack of security given to yacht visitors for their boats when they come ashore to try to spend some money. And therefore, it is worth our while to provide some security… so that we encourage them to come, and stay longer when they come.”

“… the increasing level of robberies that we are having against tourists is a matter of grave concern,” Eustace said.

Member of Parliament for the Southern Grenadines, Terrance Ollivierre. (File photo)
Member of Parliament for the Southern Grenadines, Terrance Ollivierre. (File photo)

And, Ollivierre, in a separate call to the same programme, also noted the importance of the yachting industry to the national economy and the Southern Grenadines.

“And I know when things are bad, a number of people in the Grenadines suffer, especially those in the Southern Grenadines, because, you have quite a number of stakeholders who will depend on business on a daily basis to survive.”

He said that the situation is so bad at times that restaurant owners will provide security for yachts while the sailors dine ashore.

“It is really a sore point and something must be done,” Ollivierre said.

He said he met a few months ago with tourism stakeholders in Union Island and they mentioned the need for police presence in Clifton and suggested that a space can be provided at the Tobago Cays Marine Park Office for police presence.

“But, up to now, nothing has been done. These are the sorts of ideas that are coming from people and these are the sorts of things they are looking for,” Ollivierre said.

“There has been a downturn in business,” he said, adding, “… the people are “crying” and some of them have reduced their staff “because they are trying to stay afloat”.

“What we need to realise is that when things are good, we have more employment, money is circulated throughout the economy, throughout the island, throughout the country.

“And it is very good for the economy of St. Vincent and the Grenadines so it is more than time enough that we look at what is happening, sit down and take a critical look, and if we want this industry to survive, then we realise that we have to put measures in place in order to protect it.

“You are not only protecting the people who are coming but you are protecting locals, who take time to invest in business and in order for them to survive and also the people who work in this vital industry to be able to gain employment,” Ollivierre said.

3 replies on “Yachting sector needs further protection – opposition MPs”

  1. It will be easier and faster for police and the coast guard to respond to call for help if the use skidoos. It is also cheaper to patrol the islands with these small crafts. The big 3 engine boats are for the high seas and not the inlets.
    I also believe Kingstown and other villages will be policed much easier and cheaper if police use bicycles to get around. They can cover a much wider area on bikes that on foot, or in a vehicles.
    In each of the scenarios mentioned above short radios should be used in case a police needs backup. There are too many excuses for delays and the excuse seems to be: only one officer is on duty. A recent incident in town that took the police more than 15 minutes to respond is unacceptable. No wonder some are getting fat. They are lazy and need the same physical exercise available to the schools. Why don’t the police union setup a gym for its members?

  2. patrickferrari says:

    From Searchlight Fri, Nov 11, 2011 – Saboto Caesar was the Minister of Tourism & the headline to the article is, “Increased police presence to address Bequia yacht attacks.”

    Caesar: “There is a need for all police units to be ‘beefed up’ on the island.” No s*#t Jose. “We are trying to work on and have already located patrol boats (plural) for the harbour.” Shot, muh man. “We just wanted the community to know that what they saw (overt police patrols) was not all, and that there is a lot of covert work that we will be doing in order to protect persons who are coming in.” You are in star.

    And the Crown jewel of Caesar’s ignorance and stupidity on the problem: “I am really confident that we have nipped the issue in the bud.” And the airport is not going to cost us one red cent, right?

    No, wrong. All of it – what’s gone and what’s to come. All of it.

    The boat was located in 2011 and put to sea 2013. Long after Caesar left the ministry. Why bother did they bother, Caesar had to problem nipped already. He said so.

  3. PVPALMER, wonderful idea on your part. Its time to get these Vincentian police out and about. They can cover 5 times the area on bicycles in Kingstown. Problem is who will give us the cycles? we only have the cars because they are given to us by the Taiwanese. Remember when Gonsalves did away with PACE, he said they could not afford the cameras, video equipment and tape-recorders needed to support that legislation. How on earth can we expect something as advanced in our policing system as bikes to be afforded.

    Going back to PACE, it was the abolishment of this act that has allowed the police to torture and ill treat suspects in custody. Torture is a procedure that I believe is supported by the government, if not why did they re-employ police officers convicted of beating a youth in custody.
    Gonsalves also told us PACE allowed lawyers to get their clients off of charges. Well my way of thinking is, yes it allowed lawyers to get their clients off if they had confessions beaten from them.

    Also PVP, you can’t get the effect on a bicycle that you can get when you arrive packed in the back of a pickup truck in uniforms with no identification markings and big guns. The effect brings terror to the citizens, and keeps them frightened of the regime.
    We need to realize that when the police bring terror to Vincentian citizens, it make the police state terrorists? Terrorists terrorise by bringing terror to the public. The public can be a single man taken to a remote area, threatened or beaten, or groups of villager treated with disrespect and thuggery.

    Mr Ferrari, these ULP ministers, every last one of them, just don’t know what day of the week it is.

    Just as an after thought, where did the one million US dollars in cash come from that was taken to the NCB bank, hwere did it come from and where did it end up? Sooner or later the proof and answers will come to us, because without proper evidence it could be prison time for someone.

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