It is 1972 and St Croix was a very popular tourism destination in the Caribbean. The a horrible murder happens on the island. 2 Couples out playing a round of golf are brutally murdered. The island is in turmoil, and its reputation is destroyed.
And remains that way today. A once thriving tourist destination is a veritable ghost town. An article in New York Daily News describes it as this;
But 33 years after the Fountain Valley Massacre, the slayings still hang over the island’s tourism industry.
The bottom dropped out of tourism after the murders. The golf resort tried to shake the specter by changing its name, but St. Croix continues to suffer a reputation as dangerous.
A few years ago, travel writers Rick Cropp and Barbara Braidwood rated St. Croix the place where you are “most likely to be robbed or murdered on vacation in North America.”
There has also been a rash of murders in the Virgin Islands recently, with one case making news back in the United States.
Two men from Queens, NY, visiting St Thomas to attend a wedding, 24-year-old Tristan Charlier, a Haitian-American, and 25-year-old Leon Roberts, believed to be Guyanese, were found shot to death during the early morning hours of June 15. US Virgin Islands police have said neither man had a criminal record.
Jamaica has been also rocked by murders that have effected its tourism industry. Vacationers there stay essentially in compounds separated from the local populations, and the tourist towns are very heavily patrolled by police.
Jamaica guards its reputation as a tourist paradise—literally. The government of Jamaica takes tourism seriously that they frequently dispatch police and military to make sure nothing bad happens at or near tourist resort towns such as Negril, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay.
Meanwhile, throughout the rest of the country, like the villages and capital city Kingston (where most Jamaicans live) practically have become war zones, claiming the lives of residents, police, soldiers, and gang members. More than 1049 people were killed between January and December of 2002. This figure shows a marked decline of 13 % over the record murders of 1100 on the island nation of 2.7 million in 2001.
The Prime Minister P. J. Patterson have instituted curfews in the capital city of Kingston and its suburbs. Troops were sent into the city with wide-ranging powers, saying they will be “a permanent fixture” until peace is completely restored.
Violence has flared up every few weeks in Jamaica for various reasons, which are drug running, robberies, extortion rackets, domestic disputes or public works failure or political garrison feud.
These are the concerns that Americans look at when violence in the Caribbean, and its impact on tourism.
Americans love the Caribbean. They love the beaches and the opportunities that the Caribbean affords. But, they also do not want the perception of risk to interfere with their vacation plans.
That is why we are so quick to counsel the Arubans to solve the Natalee case as soon as possible. For an island that sells safety and openess, it does not want to risk being thought of as a Jamaica or St Croix. The cost is way to high.