FTO calls for reassurances over Antigua

The Federation of Tour Operators has called for reassurance from Antigua’s tourism ministry about security on the island, following the shooting of a honeymoon couple.

FTO director general Andy Cooper said press coverage of the attack, as well as other reports of crime in Caribbean, was bound to have had an impact on sales.

“This will affect sales for a short period, but hopefully not in the long term,” he said. “However, the increasing number of reports of crime in the area is a concern and we need to find out urgently if there is an endemic problem. We are calling on the tourism ministry to provide reassurances.”

Meanwhile, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation has provided the following guidance for travel agents on how to respond when they are approached by concerned customers.

CTO marketing director Julia Hendry said: “We know travel agents are having to deal with most of the fallout from the negative press and we wanted to provide some support.”

Antigua guidance from the CTO

Q: Are you concerned about crime statistics? Is crime on the increase in the Caribbean?

A: Like every country in the world, the 30 destinations in the Caribbean take the security of their people and visitors extremely seriously.  Wherever anyone is travelling in the world there are very useful resources such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office guidelines so people can consider the facts and take appropriate care wherever they are. More than 1.25 million British people visit Caribbean countries every year and the region also welcomes more than 5 million visitors from Europe.

Q: Will it damage tourism to the Caribbean?

A: It’s really too early to say, however talking to tour operators and islands in the past week I’m pleased to say the Caribbean bookings for 2009 are strong. The weak dollar and investment in the Caribbean in recent years has led to great quality and value holidays.This is a shocking incident and our heartfelt sympathy is with the family and friends of those affected. It’s too early to say if it will impact tourism but we will continue to work with our industry partners such as ABTA, the FTO and the Foreign and Commonwealth advice to provide the best information and guidance we can.

Q: What are you doing about this for the future?

We’ll be talking to the industry later this month to get their soundings. We want people to travel our region happy and informed so we’ll be working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, ABTA and the FTO to help agents have all the information they need to advise and guide travellers. Finally I hope every agent who has visited the Caribbean will describe their own experiences to potential travellers.

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