At least one tenant at the Sangster International Airport has been forced to cease activities at the multibillion-dollar facility by the end of this month, as a result of perceived tourist harassment.
The tenant, Wild Harbour Tours, publishers of the Wild Harbour incentive coupons, was allegedly acting outside of its lease boundaries.
“Our agreement with all tenants strictly states that there should be no solicitation,” Elizabeth Scotton, director of marketing, MBJ Airports Limited, operators of the facility, tells The Sunday Gleaner.
Monitoring the situation
She says the situation was brought to MBJ’s attention and it is now being monitored and managed.
The measures come months after stakeholders complained that tourists walking from the ground-floor hospitality lounge were being pounced upon by numerous persons handing out brochures, newspapers, marketing material or repeatedly asking visitors to purchase information booklets in the restricted coach park.
In one case it is reported that many of the visitors had been pressured to purchase items for false reasons such as ‘hurricane relief’ to feed the children.
“We call on you to take the necessary action required to restore order and good conduct in the arrivals bus park and prevent what is perceived as harassment in the coach park,” reads a petition by the stakeholders addressed to MBJ Airports Limited.
The letter says the incidents have generated several complaints from tourists who have cited anxiety arising from these encounters, which they have described as nothing short of a feeding frenzy.
A letter to the Jamaica Tourist Board from Marie Leblanc Dunberry – a Canadian visitor who has been coming to Jamaica for 25 years – which was copied to The Sunday Gleaner, relates her shock in being approached by young people in the arrival section who were trying to sell her a booklet on Jamaica titled Wild Harbour Tours.
The book carries incentive coupons offering a five to 10 per cent discount at attractions such as Prospect Plantation, White River Valley, Dunn’s River, Shaw Park Hotel and Gardens, Island Dog Watersports and Black River Safari.
“Although I had no interest in purchasing it and made it clear, the young person insisted,” states Dunberry. She added: “I felt harassed. I know about harassment on the streets and although I don’t like it, I got used to dealing with it.”
She wondered if Jamaica had become so desperate for money that the authorities allowed tourist harassment at the airport.
Repeated efforts by The Sunday Gleaner to get a comment from Wild Harbour Tours yesterday proved futile.
A call to their advertised office at Richmond Park in Kingston resulted in a recording stating that the telephone number was no longer in service, while a message left on a mobile phone elicited no response up to press time.