Friday, May 29th

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Editorial - On the side of caution

The recent stabbing incident at Princess Juliana International Airport SXM (see related story) must have been quite an unsettling experience for those present, including possible travellers. Very few details have been made known so far, but any time there is a case of violence, especially with the use of weapons, at the island’s main gateways there understandably will be some concern.

The same goes for a fight between two – most probably gypsy – taxi drivers in front of the cruise terminal that led to shots being fired, as reported in the paper of Tuesday. It’s been pointed out before that the way different types of services are offered to passengers as they exit the gate at the harbour is a far from ideal situation.

When it comes to the airport, the only way to prevent what occurred would be either to body search all persons entering the building or to have them go through a metal detector, although, of course, it also could happen outside. Such scenarios are obviously not desirable for a destination trying to promote itself as a vacation paradise.

And the truth is that not everything that conceivably might put visitors in harm’s way can always be avoided. Take, for example, the famed jet-blast sensation at Maho.

Various accidents occurred when it was just becoming popular as tourist attraction, including one in which a car actually was blown onto the beach, rolled over several times and ended up in the sea with a family still inside, but thankfully nobody was seriously hurt on that occasion. Parking along that stretch of the road to Beacon Hill was made impossible since then with concrete dividers, while later a second, outer fence was added so that thrill-seekers no longer could hang on to the actual runway enclosure.

However, to get the same effect those involved now simply hang on to the new fence, which is basically right on the street. The latter also was part of the problem with the latest accident featured on Wednesday’s front page, because there was absolutely no room for the taxi to manoeuvre once the victim turned around to go after her hat.

The bottom line is that common sense and own responsibility always must be exercised, even when on vacation. It may be called “The Friendly Island,” but people still are expected to be aware of their surroundings, take care of themselves and err on the side of caution, much like they would back home.