The murder of a wealthy hotelier in Saint Lucia has sparked debate in the Facebook forum Saint Lucians Aiming for Progress. The discussion centered on foreign perception of the island's crime situation (the victim, Oliver Gobat, was a British citizen who had ties to St. Lucia) and the way this could affect the tourism industry.
The impetus for the online discussion was a series of articles posted in the Daily Mail newspaper in the United Kingdom. Many of the commenters took umbrage at some negative statements made about the island – and what might have been the motivation for the murder – both in the comments sections and by fellow citizens. Others argued that Saint Lucians need to be less defensive and take an honest look at the situation.
Dinesh Daswani believed it is the responsibility of Saint Lucians to change the perception of the island:
You can't stop them from having an opinion or writing negative comments…you can only manage to educate them and reply to making it positive. What is written can't be changed but how you reply to reassure them can change their attitude. Learned that from the best in the business!
Dianne Leslie did not think that external perception of the island is that bad:
I think critical analysis is missing here. Some statements are way too simplistic. I work out with a woman who just booked her entire wedding party to St.Lucia (30ppl). She did all of her research, read about increased crime, but did not feel threatened by it…'crime is everywhere, can't be [worse] than DC'. This is the general attitude about crime in the Caribbean, in my experience. This is not to say we do not have a problem, but at this point it is manageable, and crime is not the first thing that comes to mind when ppl hear St. Lucia. We don't want it to get to that point.
Andy Dolcy felt that the negative comments were rooted in ignorance:
You will always get comments like this because some people were brought up very ignorant and would not change their thinking of small developing countries. I think that the consulate in London and all other St Lucian consulates need to reassure the masses that this is not a true reflection of our country.
Michael Oliver Theobalds suggested that more attention be paid to crimes in England:
A 15 year [old] stabbed a teacher to death in front of other pupils in a school in Leeds…maybe the Daily Mail should pay more attention to England's crime wave. That paper has always had a personal vendetta against St. Lucia. I don't know why but having shrinking circulation…let's hope many sensible Brits can see through them.
Cha Cox-Jules said that all crime should be considered bad, no matter where it happened:
Crime is wrong. Full stop! No ifs no buts or maybes about it we all know that it's wrong! St. Lucian's (sic) were killed in Foreign countries in some of the most gruesome ways! Raped! Robbed! And you never hear our people come out and say these mean things about the countries where such has happened. A lot of the times when such ignorant comments are made we just learn to take our blows like the grown ups that most of us are and try to show that we are different, by not quarreling and hyping up ourselves for everything. We are rational thinking human beings we just need to learn to control ourselves. Most times when people write these absurd and untrue comments, they do so out of hurt.
So…. Let's take our blows and ignore foolish comments! We all know how some of these international countries are the very same bullies that try and fight against, so before anything negative happens they will be there to spread the propaganda full investigation or not. It could have been a man from the moon who came to St. Lucia and did the crime, the fact that he did it in St. Lucia, he [is] a St. Lucian, but mind u if it was in their country they will clearly state what planet he or she came from, so that their country never looks bad.
Longly Francois believed that actually solving more of the crimes would restore more confidence in the safety of the island:
What has to be done is show with the increase we have in crime we also have an increase in solved cases. This will show we take crime seriously and also give visitors the faith that even if some idiot tries to turn their vacation into a nightmare he will pay for it.
Allan Amedee warned against baseless speculation:
I did caution about all the speculation. However, he's still someone's son, brother, father and loved one. Us Lucians sometimes like to jump the gun and are quick to denigrate our beautiful Isle. It's a national preoccupation that I find distasteful. Lucia may not be the best but, it's certainly not the WORST.
Grand Anse asserted that regardless of the details of the case, the fact that it happened in Saint Lucia will have a negative impact on the perception of the island:
No matter what, this crime quite obviously will have a negative impact on St. Lucia…we need to be proactive in how we deal with this, not just in the investigation, but the image of St. Lucia and how we deal with crime in general. In order for Antigua to regain their numbers they had to put out some stronger measures and greater enforcement, which naturally benefited the country in general.
In the meantime family and friends are grieving and subjected to all kinds of speculation. Allow them the peace and dignity that we would wish on ourselves in such a terrible situation, without the hearsay. Facts I hope, will come to light, while the investigation takes place, I hope all of those involved in enforcement tourism and associated sectors are getting measures in place so that this does not too adversely affect the economy, and to try to prevent such incidents in the future. We all have a lot of work to do.