I can’t imagine one Virgin Islander, whether they live at home or abroad, who has not been moved to tears by the recent surge in violence and murder in our precious home, the Virgin Islands. Tears, not only relegated to the eyes but the tears that can also fall from ones heart. And like many, my heartaches for the V.I. Apathy that has taken root in the psyche of our young males, who refuse to settle their disputes; leaving in their wake fatherless children, crying mothers for both the victim and perpetrator, shambled communities, discouraged officials, exasperated religious leaders of all faiths, bankrupt medical institution, etc. The fallout from these acts are too much to list and would take up way too much time.
To put a spot light on the problem one would only read an article in a local periodical, Head line Article states, V.I. viewed as unsafe place to visit. I would change the Headline article to say; V.I. is rapidly becoming an unsafe place to live! As much as I care about our tourism based economy which pumps hundreds of millions into our economy yearly, I care more about the people who live in fear and as a result, are now living in their personal mental prison, hoping to avoid being the target of violence in a place that seems like just yesterday, was one of the most peaceful places in the western hemisphere bar none.
Furthermore, in the same article, it was reported that the V.I. is ranked 27th out of 28th Caribbean destination in the area of safety! The survey was conducted by Resonance Consultancy and sponsored by the Caribbean Tourism Quality Index. The same survey reported that the V.I. was ranked 8th in culture, 3rd in entertainment, 3rd in sightseeing and 1st in sport and adventure. So, one must conclude that there is some accuracy to the survey if we want to take credit for the successes reported in the survey.
If the local people are not safe, eventually the visitors will fall victim to the same horrors and terror of crime. Imagine, sitting in your home 3 pm in the afternoon and someone is trying to break in? That must be terrifying. And I am sharing this occurrence because it happened to someone that is near and dear to me.
Chris Fair, President of the Resonance Report, said” the perception of public safety is probably the single biggest threat to sustainability for tourism in the VI, both the perception and reality.” I say, the reality in this instance, trumps the perception. Our little island nation is living the dreadful reality associated with violence. It is no longer a perception, it has become a painful reality.
Clarence Payne, St. Thomas