Thursday, February 29, 2024

Barbados still safe!


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IF, AS THE SAGES SAY, a “friend in need is a friend indeed,” then Barbados may consider London’s Daily Telegraph a friend indeed.
For at a time when British daily newspapers were running stories about the attack on two British travellers in Bridgetown, the Telegraph, which also covered the shooting incident, published a story asserting that Barbados remained a safe place for visitors.
Yes, wrote Fred Mawer, a travel writer and the Telegraph’s Barbados “expert”, the shooting incident was both “shocking” and “alarming”. Also true, it was a “horrific” case.
But what’s also a fact, he adds, “Barbados has a deserved reputation as one of the safer islands in the Caribbean” and that fact alone made it the more shocking.
“In some parts of the Caribbean, such as Jamaica where crime rates are higher, most tourists stick to organized, guided excursions when venturing beyond the hotel and resorts,” Mawer told the 634 000 Britons who on average read the paper every day.
“But on Barbados, many visitors like a much more independent approach. Like many holidaymakers, I have explored Barbados in a hired car, used the local buses, discovered off the beaten track beaches, and gone out in the evening to some of the island’s many outstanding restaurants. Over the course of many visits, I have never been threatened or felt threatened.
“What is also disturbing is that the attack happened on Hincks Street, a main thoroughfare very close to the centre of Bridgetown, and in the early afternoon,” he added.
“I wouldn’t go wandering around central Bridgetown after dark, but during the daytime I feel safe. Lots of tourists come into town for a couple of hours during the day – for those on a cruise, it’s a fairly pleasant stroll into the centre from the cruise ship terminal.
“While the tourist authorities have also been promoting Bridgetown’s cultural heritage, shopping is the town’s main attraction. Duty free stores line the main drag, Broad Street, which along with Cheapside, is the best route to take when heading into the town centre.
“It is also worth noting that Monday to Saturday, Bridgetown is full of hustle, with locals going about their daily business. On a Sunday, when the British couple were assaulted, it would have been much quieter.
“Though the foreign office [in London] says crime levels on Barbados are relatively low, it also points out that there have been cases of armed robbery, muggings and sexual assaults against tourists.
“These have not been confined to particular areas, and some incidents have taken place on the glitzy West Coast, which is lined with luxury hotels and lavish villas.
“So wherever you are based or go on Barbados, you definitely need to take sensible precautions and not let your guard down just because everything feels safe,” Mawer advised.
“Lock accommodations at night – friends of mine holidaying on the island some years ago suffered a traumatic armed burglary in the middle of the night in a South Coast apartment.
“Avoid unlit areas after dark; be vigilant on unfrequented beaches; and given the recent spate of robberies linked to the cash-for-gold trade, don’t wear jewellery ostentatiously.
“Also bear in mind that rental cars on Barbados are clearly identified by their ‘H’ number plates, which can make them prime targets for thieves.”


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