The Washington Post
Published: March 21, 2010
Crime in the popular tourist destination is on the upswing, especially on New Providence Island, where the capital city, Nassau, is located. And we’re not talking just petty thefts or purse-snatching.
This island nation finished 2009 with a record 87 murders – a statistic tourism officials probably won’t be trumpeting in their next “It’s Better in the Bahamas” ad.
More recently, on Feb. 25, an American tourist was attacked in his hotel room on usually tranquil Harbour Island (60 miles from Nassau) by two men wielding a cutlass, according to the Tribune newspaper. The victim survived, and suspects are in custody.
Bahamian officials from Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham on down have acknowledged the problem and taken steps to address it, putting more police on the streets in Nassau, especially after 18 cruise ship passengers became victims of an armed robbery in November.
The criminal activity has prompted the operators of the world’s largest cruise ship, Oasis of the Seas, to warn its passengers to “be mindful of their personal safety,” the Nassau Guardian newspaper reported.
Most of the violent crime seems to have occurred in New Providence’s “Over the Hill” neighborhoods, where few tourists venture. Would-be tourists should also know that crime hasn’t been as much of an issue in the Bahamas’ less populated Family Islands, such as Exuma, Bimini and Abaco.
Even so, “be mindful” seems like an appropriate mantra for visitors, especially in Nassau, where the State Department has reported “assaults, including sexual assaults, in diverse areas such as in casinos, outside hotels or on cruise ships.”
Some Bahamians attribute the crime wave to high unemployment (hovering at 15 percent on New Providence Island, according to the Guardian) and the nation’s status as a gathering spot for drug traffickers.
Here’s another reason to bike your way around town: You can now get bicycling directions on Google Maps.
Google has partnered with Washington-based nonprofit Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to offer the feature, which allows users to type in their destination and get directions for the best bicycling route.
Google has already been offering this service to drivers, walkers and transit riders. Now Google users in all 50 states will have access to the conservancy database of more than 1,600 rail-trails and connecting corridors. Rails-To-Trails has been offering its trail maps gratis on TrailLink.com, where demand has grown in the past year.
“Bikers all over the country now will be able to explore new trails or find specific directions in their local community with just a few clicks of their mouse,” Shannon Guymon, product manager for Google Maps, said in a statement.
Air travelers list woes, wants
What are travelers’ biggest gripes these days? Limited leg room on planes and fees for checked baggage and other in-flight services, according to Trip Advisor’s second air travel survey.
The survey of 3,200 U.S. respondents revealed some other interesting traveler sentiments. Sorry, Kevin Smith, but 74 percent said they think that travelers of size should pay for two seats on their flights. (Actor-director Smith waged a Twitter campaign against Southwest Airlines after he was forced off a flight for being too big to fit comfortably in a single seat. Southwest later apologized.)
Thirty percent said that they would be more likely to book a ticket on a flight offering WiFi. Some travelers – 45 percent – said they want Internet access so badly that they would put up with a seatmate accessing inappropriate content. However, 27 percent said that they would alert a flight attendant and 22 percent would ask their seatmate to shut down any lewd sites.
And what of those controversial full body scanners that can see through your clothing? Seventy-nine percent had no problem with them.
•Alaska Airlines is testing in-flight WiFi and plans to install the service in its entire fleet. The cost is $4.95 and up, based on the length of the flight and device used.
•Through its Hot Type program, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts will lend guests at its Caribbean properties advance copies of Stieg Larsson’s novel “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest.” The third installment in Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, which also includes “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” will be released May 25. Guests can check out the book from a poolside librarian at each resort.
•CAFAmerica has partnered with the Millennium Foundation to establish the MassiveGood America Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis and improve the state of maternal and child health in the developing world. Travelers can contribute $2 to the cause through travel agents and by clicking on the MassiveGood link on such commercial travel Web sites as Travelocity and Accor Hotels.