A week ago, USA Today ran a story with an alarming headline, “ Jamaica resorts facing a “historic” sexual assault problem.” Wow! That is not the type of headline one wants to see in a local paper, much less a national one with 726,908 daily printed papers and a total daily audience of more than 3 million. That is a story that will have legs and be something that we, as travel professionals, will need to address with our clients who are looking to travel to one of out top (for most) destinations. So, how do you keep your clients safe?
The simple answer is you can’t.
In the end, clients are responsible for their own safety and you probably should have some wording to that effect in your agreement with them. But they do come to us for advice; so we really do need to offer it.
I recall when there was violent gang crime in Kingston. It was pretty much contained to the area, but all the resorts had gated entrances and armed guards just to be safe. It was a reasonable safety assurance to clients—even if a bit disconcerting to see armed guards in a place you are going to relax and enjoy yourself.
But now it seems that the resorts have problems—what to tell your clients? Well, one reported rape a month is one to many for sure. And while the chance of it happening to your client are slim, the chance is still there.
One of the cardinal rules of cruising is that you never go with a crewmember to a non-public place. I am not sure why this has not been a rule for any form of travel. Many, if not most, clients have some street smarts and can sense when a situation is not “right” and mitigate it. Others are naïve.
One thing that explain to ALL of my clients and their children is to always trust their instinct. If something does not feel right, it likely is not right. In today’s America we are constantly told that if we see something to say something (to authorities). And this is a great tip for travelers. As much as possible, try to not be alone while on a trip. Eat with a group, walk the beach with a friend, share a cab to the nightclub. All of these are common sense behaviors here it the US, but we always let or guard down while traveling for some reason.
As to this specific warning, I would reiterate that there is always safety in numbers. And to remember that just like in the US, there are bad people everywhere and you need to be vigilant. Never leave a drink unattended. Always lock your doors. Sometimes it is common sense stuff that simple needs to be reiterated!
Any other tips or thoughts? Leave a comment!