A retired Jamaican military officer will submit recommendations on “the way forward” as part of an island-wide security audit of the country’s critical tourism sector commissioned by Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Tourism Minister.
On Monday, Bartlett named Dave Walker the Director of Visitor Safety and Experience for Jamaica’s Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), according to a Ministry of Tourism statement. Walker will review the initial report and provide recommendations “by the start of winter tourist season in December,” Bartlett said.
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The tourism minister ordered “an intensive security audit of hotel properties across the island” in late 2018 to “identify gaps and ensure a strategy of a safe, secure and seamless destination for visitors and locals alike,” say Ministry officials.
TPDCo officials, responsible for “maintaining quality assurance” within Jamaica, coordinated the security audit.
“Major Walker comes to the TPDCo with a wealth of security experience and has been directed to critically review findings from the initial report,” Bartlett added, “with a view to analyzing the data and providing recommendations on constructing a new architecture for security in the sector.”
Walker was a member of Jamaica’s military for 23 years, serving in various operational and strategic capacities including military advisor in Sierra Leone and advisor on regional security for CARICOM’s Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS). Walker holds master’s degrees in national security and strategic studies and in business administration from the University of the West Indies.
Bartlett said the Tourism Ministry will create a “manual on tourism ethics,” as an “important outcome” of Walker’s review and recommendations. Bartlett said the manual “will guide not just the expectations of security infrastructure in the sector, but how we interface with each other.”
Jamaica has struggled in the past year with issues related to crime and security. Legislative leaders recently voted to extend a state of emergency covering parishes including St. James, in which the Montego Bay tourism district is located. The original state of emergency was issued in January by Andrew Holness, Jamaica’s prime minister.
Despite these concerns, Jamaica enters 2019 as the most popular English-speaking Caribbean destination, having hosted more than 4.3 million land and cruise ship visitors in 2018.