The US State Department has once again issued a fact sheet to Spring Breakers at http://travel.state.gov/springbreak_bahamas.html urging them to use caution and good judgment if they travel to the Bahamas. The fact sheet – published in the website at 2004-03-02 noted that while Bahamian police make a special effort to increase patrols and expand surveillance, spring breakers should take every safety precaution during their visit.
Nassau is a growing city. Crime and violence have increasingly moved into more affluent tourist and residential areas. The advices: Valuables should be left in a safe place or at home. Do not leave belongings unguarded on the beach while swimming. Passports and other valuables should be left in hotel safes. Walking at night on secluded beaches alone or in small groups is not advised. Visitors found alone or incapacitated have been targeted for rape, robbery, and assault. Know your drinking companions and be accompanied by friends when in clubs, bars, walking, or in a taxi at night.
The US Embassy in Nassau explained already last year that crime and drug trafficking have increased to such a level that it is necessary to officially inform younger tourists about the bad conditions they may encounter in the island nation. The American Embassy mentions theft, armed robbery, physical attacks kidnapping and murder of tourists as potential risks. Widespread drug trafficking and dangerous possesion of arms are increasing even on the so called out islands.
Bahamas Consult describes the new travel warning "as a bitter blow for the tourist trade In the Bahamas". It certainly isn´t a pessimistic description of the effects of the global political situation, but depressingly, it is based slely on the dangers within the country which is supposed to be a paradise. Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie said that the top growth markets in the Caribbean are the Dominican Republic and Cancun. He confirmed the Bahamas must offer visitors greater value for their money in order to prevent the further loss of market share to competitors.
Harald Fuhrmann, Directing Manager of Bahamas Consult, reminds that the tourist satisfaction is very low. Specially in Nassau tourists stay on board of their cruise ships in the evenings because there they get more fun than what locals are willing to offer. They like the cruise, they like the buffet on board and they prefere the entertainment on board because Nassau downtown after 7 pm is dead. Tourists from America and Canada are becoming more and more aware that they are not getting value for money he claimed.
2003 was the most horrible year in the Bahamas due to the fear of rising crime has become too great factor in daily life and the largest missing persons investigation ever to be recorded in Bahamian history. Five school-aged boys on Grand Bahama went missing without a trace, testing the metal of authorities and forcing the country out of its social comfort zones. The first boy, Jake Grant, disappeared from home on May 9th. Soon to follow that month was Mackinson Colas and then DeAngelo McKenzie.
Two months later Junior Reme and Desmond Rolle went missing and soon frightened parents wondered whose child would be next. Rumors of the boys' whereabouts abounded, but after months of investigations which reached international proportions, 35-year-old Cordell Farrington, a hardware store clerk, turned himself into police and led authorities to the remains of Grand Bahama's fallen sons. He was also charged with killing his former friend, Jamaal Robbins. Four juveniles were charged two weeks earlier in the disappearance of Jake Grant. Last year more than 50 people have been murdered. In the meantime there has been a cumulative total of 10,000 HIV infections in the Bahamas.
Another story of the year was a “Death Boat” desaster. Four people died during an boat accident near Eluthera/Bahamas and more than 20 were injured when the 98-foot Sea Hauler, said to have been carrying 196 passengers and seven crew, collided with the 178-foot freighter, UnitedStar, at August 2nd. The second vessel was carrying 11 people as well as vehicles and other cargo. Sea Hauler was licensed to carry only 130 passengers and did not have life vests and life-boats for emergencies. Captain Allen Russell even did not lists of passengers, crew and cargo on board.
This happened just a short time after a Bahamian family had just picked up their son and nephew from a Express Mailboat and were heading back around the bend in their car when it plunged off the dock. The son was the only survivor of that terrifying ordeal. It wasn't the first time that due to poor safety standards at Paradise Island Bridge a vehicle had careened off the pier ending fatally.
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