Crime will destroy tourism sector

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Leaders of two of the political opposition parties are agreeing that if the increase in criminal-related activities are not curtailed, it could adversely affect the tourism sector.
Harold Lovell, leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP), and Joanne Massiah, leader of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), last week disagreed on who are the perpetrators of crimes, however, yesterday they spoke as one voice with respect to the effect that crime will have on the nation.
Lovell told OBSERVER media, that Antigua and Barbuda is seen as a peaceful place by travellers across the globe and any threat to that view could be detrimental.
“We get approximately 70 percent of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from tourism, and if visitors stop coming to Antigua because they do not feel safe, it has the potential to destroy not just our tourism product but the economy,” said Lovell.
Joanne Massiah, who won her seat as a member of parliament on the UPP ticket in 2014, said that those who are employed in the tourism sector, directly or indirectly, will begin to feel the economic pinch in the most brutal way if crime is not controlled.
Massiah expressed concern that if the crimes continue every week, and the government’s response appears feckless, that travel advisories against Antigua and Barbuda could soon follow.
They were speaking on the heels of the latest killing of two masked men who allegedly engaged lawmen in a shoot-out in the Lightfoot area.
The opposition leaders implored the government to present a comprehensive and strategic crime-fighting plan to the nation.
“We need a national security strategic plan, we need that urgently, and it must include every citizen of Antigua and Barbuda. We must end this ad hoc manner of addressing crime. Today we hear about A, tomorrow we hear about B,” said Lovell.
Massiah said that there should be a greater effort by the government to tackle gun-related crimes.
“The type of guns that are being used are more sophisticated than what the police have in their armoury. In the same way that the government is focused on ridding the streets of drugs, a similar effort must be made in finding out where these guns are coming from,” said Massiah.
The DNA leader has also suggested that the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda (RPFAB), seek to develop a relationship with the residents in an effort to gain information about where illegal guns are being stored.
According to Massiah, “ordinary people on the street with whom we speak seem to know where the guns are coming from. And if people know, certainly we want to believe some person in the police force must avail themselves of this information.”
The UPP leader added that by working with the community, law enforcers will be privy to information regarding illegal activity.
“Crime is a community issue, and we must be sure that the communities are working closely with the police. If we are to get good information and good intelligence, we must increase the level of cooperation and create an atmosphere of harmony, between the police and those persons who may be able to provide information,” said Lovell.

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