ST JOHN’S, Antigua – A suggestion has been made for stringent guidelines to be implemented to govern the operation of jet skis on the island.
The submission came from President of the Antigua & Barbuda Cruise Tourism Association Nathan Dundas, a day after an American visitor was rescued by a Coast Guard vessel after he was found yesterday clinging to a jet ski 12 miles out at sea.
The US citizen, 32-year-old Stephen Payne, had apparently rented the motorised equipment from an operator at Turner’s Beach on Thursday and the watercraft reportedly ran out of fuel.
Dundas said the equipment is widely used on beaches and hotel properties across the region, and with this in mind, there needs to be set guidelines regarding its operation.
“It is important for us as a destination to set up a policy with regards to standards that need to be met by the jet ski operators and to ensure that whatever services that they are providing should be a top notch service,” Dundas said in an interview.
Dundas declared, had the service being properly regulated and controlled, an event such as this one would not have occurred.
He said the services are widely used in other Caribbean countries such as Barbados and St Lucia and most of these islands have policies to control the operation.
“What has happened should not have happened with a service that is being properly regulated and controlled. There should have notification sent out from since the gentleman went missing. There should have also been some type of arrangement in place. That also could have been avoided if there were procedures being followed,” Dundas noted.
The cruise tourism boss said the operation of jet ski has always being a major concern for tourism stakeholders.
OBSERVER Media questioned a jet ski operator, who did not wished to be named, about the safety procedures which are in place for people utilising the service.
The male operator said persons are required to fill out a disclaimer form.
The man said people are required to wear life jackets and must be experienced swimmers.
“Once you sign this form, you are allowed to go to a particular point and stay in place where we can get a good visual,” the man said.
The proprietor added that once patrons don’t make it back to shore after a period of time, a check is made to ensure that they are safe.