Tue | Dec 12, 2017

Security heightened for tourism summit - Organisers taking no chances with safety of 800 visitors to MoBay conference

Published:Monday | November 20, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Security forces in Spanish Town, St Catherine, earlier this year.

Local organisers of one of the biggest tourism conferences in the world are confident that the more than 800 visitors expected in Montego Bay will be safe despite the high murder rate in St James since the start of this year.

Almost 300 people have been killed in St James since the start of the year, but visitors to the island's tourism capital have been largely safe, and Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett says everything is in place to keep it that way.

"A full security protocol is being developed for the conference and we are doing it with our two major security forces, as well as local private sector security agents," Bartlett told a Gleaner Editors' Forum last Thursday as final preparations were being completed for the Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnership for Sustainable Tourism slated for November 27 to 29 in Montego Bay.

More than 150 countries are expected to be represented at the conference, which is being staged by the Jamaican Government, in collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.

It will feature entrepreneurs, academics, professionals and other stakeholders knowledgeable about tourism in the Caribbean.

Onika Miller, managing director of the MCS Group at the Jamaica National Building Society, which is the lead organiser of the conference, told the forum that the health and safety of visitors are the mandates of a robust committee, supported by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).

"It's part of our logistics management ... . Both streams, the JDF and the JCF, have been working together. We have a security plan," said Miller.

"We've also had briefings with teams representing the country delegations that have a particular interest in security and the considerations we've put in place," added Miller.

She said some of the security initiatives taken for the conference were informed by the ongoing zone of special operations in force in Mount Salem, St James.

Included in these are the erection of a security command centre, on-site registration checking, special zoned badges, and strong security detail at checkpoints.