WATCH: Crackdown on watersports operators to set standards in Barbados
Minister of Tourism Kerrie Symmonds chairs press conference to update the country and world on Missing US visitors. (Left) Acting Barbados Coast Guard Commander Ryan Alleyne and (right) Deputy Police Commissioner Erwin Boyce.
Barbados will embark on a complete overhauling of the way small craft operators namely watersports operators conduct business in the near future to improve service delivery and enhance safety and security.
Video caption: Final press update by Tourism Minister Kerrie Symmonds on June 30, 2019, ahead of 6:38 pm official search end. 0:00 US recalls jet. 0:50 New standards must come. 3:00 Jet ski operators can expect crackdown 5:45 No blame placed on local telecoms
This assertion came from the Minister of Tourism and International Transport Kerrie Symmonds, today, Sunday, June 30, 2019.
Saddened by the disappearance of two American tourists at sea while aboard a jet ski off Barbados, he said that the tragedy shows up deficits and inefficiencies and calls for best practices, standards and regulations across a sector that has been otherwise left to run its own courses.
He lamented that "for too long in my view, we have done the business of tourism very well, but we've been playing a game of Russian roulette; you can only hope for the best outcome and get the best outcome for so long. There has to be a point when now we make sure that we dot the 'i's and cross the 't's and we apply the level of diligence to that which we do to make sure that we are at the very top of the game across the world."
Taking a moment during the last press update before the search was called off officially at 6:38 pm today, he said, that this series of unfortunate events, "this warrants the fullest possible review of processes."
Speaking at a press conference held at the Prime Minister's Offices in Bay Street around 10:00 am, this morning, a then still hopeful Symmonds, told the media:
"Accidents do happen, [but] as the Minister I do believe that this is an opportunity for us to reflect on the practices and the processes surrounding this particular aspect of the tourism services that we offer. It is not only a matter of how we treat to our guests as I keep telling people in Barbados, it's a matter of how we treat to ourselves.
"All of us know that we have family and friends who go to the beach and rent a jet ski. That unfortunate set of circumstances could have befallen any Barbadian and we would not want for any Barbadian or Barbadian family to have to undergo the anguish that this particular set of families have had to undergo..."
Therefore, looking at the policies and processes, he stressed that after today, "I think that we are going to, when this has blown over a little bit, sit down and have a comprehensive and uncompromising review of all the processes involved and assess where there are weaknesses."
He said that improvements will also be pinpointed as Barbados works to compete with tourism products the world over and people's expectations internationally.
Symmonds took pains, however, to clarify that no one in this business should take offence as he is not singling out anyone in particular - not even jet ski operators as a category. Responding to a question of failure to maintain jet skis by owners, he urged, "The categories of negligence are never closed. There are doctors that are negligent." But he went on to say that the time to "look seriously at the processes" will come in due course and it will be a joint effort involving departments of government namely the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy.
Hammering home the urgency, he added that we must stand by and aim to attain international expectations and standards at all times, for "none of us would want to see our family member in a similar situation" ever again.
As of 6:38 pm, Sunday, June 30, 2019, Oscar Suarez and Magdalena Devil have not been seen since around 2:35 pm on Monday, June 24, 2019, when they went on a jet ski as part of their vacation adventure in Barbados.