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Elevate the tone of public discourse

Dear Sir,

Christopher Famous expressed concern recently that our tourists were being adversely affected by what he termed negative, xenophobic and insulting public commentary.

He rightly points out how many businesses rely on our tourists for their survival, including West End Development Corporation, taxi services, minibus operators, restaurants, beach concessions, bars, shops, and the like.

Insulting and xenophobic speech, he advised us, is a threat to our economy.

Regrettably, our tourists are unable to avoid such xenophobic, racially divisive speech, as it frequently airs on the talk shows playing in the taxis, minibuses and at other public venues.

Often, our guests have been visibly startled and upset by the level of vitriol and bigotry given free rein on our airwaves. Racially charged remarks are generally allowed to pass unchallenged by the show hosts, thus giving rise to the concern that such an atmosphere of xenophobia and contempt is acceptable.

As Mr Famous pointed out, this cannot but have a negative impact on our tourists, our tourism numbers and, ultimately, our economy.

In his new role as Shadow Minister of Tourism and Economic Development, Jamahl Simmons recently expressed his intentions to get right to work, using both his previous experiences catering to tourists and his personal desire to find ways to draw investors to Bermuda to have a positive impact on Bermuda's tourism and economic development.

Given that one significant impediment to tourist satisfaction and foreign investment was identified by Mr Famous as being the toxic and xenophobic nature of our public commentary, perhaps Mr Simmons could address that issue by speaking with representatives of our radio and news media.

Since Mr Famous made a direct connection between the type of xenophobic, bigoted speech he ascertained in the public arena, such as in our toxic talk shows, and a subsequent negative impact on tourism, it certainly would be appropriate for Mr Simmons to devote some effort to curbing that negative trend.

As that trend appears to have such a direct effect on our tourists' experience, it surely falls within Mr Simmons's purview to challenge our radio and other media personalities to elevate the tone of our public discourse and discourage the insulting, xenophobic and negative speech that Mr Famous identified for us.

Best wishes on those endeavours.

CHRIS SCOTT

Threat to the economy: a reader says “racially divisive speech” frequently airs on the Island's talk shows, which could affect tourism

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Published December 08, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 07, 2015 at 10:58 pm)

Elevate the tone of public discourse

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