Tourist Spot

US TOURISTS SAY DREAM HOLIDAY TURNED INTO A NIGHTMARE

AAn American family who were violently attacked while recently vacationing in the Turks and Caicos Islands said the ordeal had turned their “dream vacation into a nightmare”.

Their unfortunate experience comes at a time of growing concern in tourism circles and the wider community about the impact of crime on the tourism industry and how police handle reports.

Lydia Rae, a resident of Pensacola, Florida, told SUN in an exclusive interview that the mishandling and lack of communication from the police only made the situation worse.

“I can only hope these aren’t standard operating procedures and pray that no one else has to go through the fiasco that we had to go through and continue to endure,” she said. “A dream vacation quickly turned into a nightmare!”
Rae said that on March 26, 2022, she, her husband and their two toddlers, ages 2 and 4, traveled to the Turks and Caicos Islands for the first time and stayed at an Airbnb in the area of ​​The Bight.

“We had an amazing time and everyone we met seemed polite and cheerful. During our stay we explored as much of the island as possible and even took the ferry and visited both North and Middle Caicos to make sure we could see as much of the area as possible,” she said.

“On April 1, the day before we left, we read information about the Split Rock Pirate Cave on www.visittci.com. We drove to the site and saw about 4 other vehicles parked at the tourist site .out of our car most visitors just got in their car to leave as their half day trip with a local fishing guide was coming to an end.We walked through the pirates cave and private beach to take pictures and explore for about 20 minutes.”

“As we were finishing our visit, two masked men (one with a Glock handgun) came up behind my husband and daughter and demanded our iPhone, cash, wallets and car keys. was in the water with my son when the men approached. They tried to get my husband to open and change the Apple ID on the iPhone, but he was holding my phone and did not know my password. They drove off and stole our rental car with several expensive things inside (laptop, seat car, wagon, beach cabana, hats and shoes).”

Rae said after returning to where the cars were parked, they learned that three other women in a blue jeep had also been stolen. However, she said the thieves left the vehicle keys and the women took them to contact the police.

“The police took our statements and said the report and other documents would be ready the next day, but they weren’t received until a week later. Days after the theft, thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges were attempted on several credit cards. About two weeks after the incident, we learned from the car rental company that the vehicle had been recovered, but had damage. We contacted the police for confirmation, and after seven days and several e-mails to the detective, his boss, the embassy in The Bahamas, and the governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands, we finally received a response indicating that the vehicle had been recovered.According to the detective, the only personal items recovered were our car seat and trolley.It is extremely frustrating and discouraging to get information from the car rental company before the detective or the police.

In a recent press release, the Turks and Caicos Islands Hotel and Tourism Association expressed concern about the impact of crime on tourism.

The association said that in a recent meeting with Commissioner of Police, Trevor Botting, they had an in-depth look at the current crime statistics in the country and the overall initiatives that the RTCIPF has launched to curb the widespread rise. of infiltrating crime. our communities, but despite the positive measures, there has been “an appalling increase in brazen criminal acts in recent months that have begun to cripple residents of the Turks and Caicos Islands”.

“Every day the community calls for a quick resolution and firm action against the criminal element. Unfortunately, these cries are drowned out by reports of shootings, aggravated burglaries, felonies and murders,” TCHTA said. These blatant criminal acts have continued amid an ongoing gun amnesty, proving that the criminal elements residing among us do not seek to live within the bounds of the law and do not fear the fallout from their crimes. . This does not bode well for our society.”

The TCHTA called for “swift, firm and immediate action against this construction problem”, adding that the effects of crime on society are far-reaching.

“It instills fear among the population, long-term economic and psychological damage, and harms social peace and development which are essential to any nation. In a society as small as ours, our socio-economic health is threatened by a plague such as this.”

TCHTA President Trevor Musgrove said in the press release, “We are delighted to have an excellent channel of communication between the association and the Royal Turks & Caicos Islands Police Force leadership team. Commissioner Botting is always very open and works closely with our Crime and Safety Committee Chairs, Tappa Tibble and Todd Foss, sharing updates and providing answers to questions as best as possible within reason. Unfortunately, we have seen more outright criminal acts in recent months, which is very worrying. Although we represent TCHTA members and hospitality professionals, crime not only poses a threat to the stability of the tourism industry, but can quickly erode the very fiber of our communities if left unchecked. is unchecked and unattached.

Residents of this country must feel safe in their homes, move around in their communities, and operate their businesses, and we must not allow the fearless criminal element to gain confidence that they have the power or freedom to victimize and terrorize law-abiding citizens. Unfortunately, victimization and fear have been recurring themes in our communities recently, and residents wonder how much longer they will be terrorized by these heinous acts. »