NEW YORK -- Bahamian tourism officials sought a retraction of a
U.S. State Department alert that cautions visitors to the islands
to "pay extra attention to their security."
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism said government officials doubt
the credibility of an informant who warned the U.S. Embassy in
Nassau of unspecified violence against U.S. interests in the
Bahamas. "Although the informant's credibility, honesty and
reliability have come into question, these allegations remain under
active investigation by the Bahamas Police," the ministry statement
A State Department spokeswoman said the announcement, the
lowest-level communique issued by the department, "is [based on]
information we take seriously," but it is not a caution against
traveling to the Bahamas.
Vincent Principe, consul at the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, said
that pending investigation by the State Department, the
announcement could be canceled or updated. "At this point, the
threat can't be confirmed or denied, and we're obliged to make it
public," he said. "It's a sign of the times. After Oklahoma City
and Lockerbie [Scotland], if we didn't make [the threat] known to
Americans, we'd be called on the carpet."
The alert expires Aug. 7, but director general of tourism
Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace said the Bahamian government is seeking
a retraction of the announcement immediately.
Back in the U.S., major tour operators Travel Impressions and
Certified Vacations reported no cancellations and few calls
regarding the announcement. Similarly, the Bahamas Hotel
Association reported telephone inquiries but no cancellations.
Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, director general of the Bahamas
tourism ministry, said that hotels' security staffs have been
apprised of the situation, and a "minimal" amount of concern has
been reported by guests.
The ministry sent a broadcast fax to 23,000 travel companies
alerting them to the existence of the announcement.
The statement said, "We are hosting a record number of visitors
this year and our guests continue to enjoy their vacations. We can
assure our travel partners in the U.S. and throughout the world
that it is business as usual."