Barbados Tourism Authority, police need to read this TripAdvisor conversation about The Gap

Tourist Frank James complains about drugs, beggars, harassment – and no police at The Gap

With almost 50 replies in the first few hours a new post about The Gap is gaining momentum at TripAdvisor. Unfortunately, tourist Frank James and his girlfriend recently had some problems while visiting The Gap. While some of the folks chipping in on the discussion think he’s over-reacting, others back him entirely even as they support Barbados as one of their favourite vacation destinations.

Bottom line: Both the BTA and the Royal Barbados Police Force should follow this TripAdvisor thread because (as one of the TripAdvisor Barbados experts points out) the complaints of Mr. James are becoming all too common. There is something going wrong at The Gap.

TripAdvisor: Disappointed with the Gap


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Crime & Law

39 responses to “Barbados Tourism Authority, police need to read this TripAdvisor conversation about The Gap


    By now the Police have to know who is selling,, Well some do get there cut??

  2. Green Monkey

    A female relative of mine and her boyfriend were staying at a hotel in the Gap several months ago. This was the BF’s first trip to Barbados after visiting a couple other places in the Caribbean, and I can tell you they were not at all happy about the level;of harassment they had to endure every time they put a foot outside the hotel property from some of these ignorant aholes and louts who always seemed to be hanging around asking them every 5 minutes if they wanted to buy drugs or even on occasion making suggestive comments of a sexual nature as they walked by. They also complained about the taxi drivers. Not that they were being particularly rude, but they found it just grew very tiresome having someone asking “Taxi, taxi?” and having to continuously repeat, “No thanks” every 30 or 40 feet as they tried to take a stroll down the Gap.

  3. Canadian Tourist

    Wow, sounds like every year at the Gap for the last ten for me. I find the Bajan men are quite receptive to a punch in the face followed by a kick to the bollocks as a consolation prize after they have sexually harassed my daughters. Fuck’yas if you can’t take a Canadian Handshake.

  4. 102

    And if you ignore the taxi drivers screaming “Taxi, Taxi!” at you (how they greet white people apparently), they give you a mouthful of abuse. Great ambassadors for Barbados,

  5. Green Monkey

    BFP says the police need to read this Trip Advisor thread. Good idea. Maybe they will all the way to response No 23:

    It’s a problem folks, and no amount of telling people that this is just how it is, is going to help. The police aren’t even sure of the laws themselves! I was in a very popular Gap restaurant/ bar and witnessed a person being escorted out by the bouncers. He had been begging inside the property and harassing the customers. He made a HUGE scene when he was escorted out and brought the police back with him minuted later insisting that he be allowed back in. The police proceeded to “inform” the owners/ managers that “this is a public place, he can be here if he wants, you can’t tell him otherwise”!! Seriously! A privately-owned business is NOT public property! The owners themselves had to go get a copy (which I’ve since found out they keep laminated in the office as they have to show it to the police so often) of the actual LAW which gives them the right to eject any persons they see fit to eject for whatever reason they so choose. The police looked at it as if they’d never heard such a thing before and had to back up the management in the end.

    When fighting this kind of mentality, what hope does the Gap have unless there is a fundamental change starting at the top with a police force that realize that the tourist dollar is what’s keeping them in their jobs and we are all duty-bound to be outraged that nothing is being done to protect our tourism from the few who can ruin a vacation. These holiday-makers vacation was ruined (and I certainly don’t think it’s for us to tell them they should have any other opinion) and threads like these, pointing out what their rather poor experience was like, would most certainly deter other potential visitors. Telling them to stay away or go to an all inclusive is no solution, why should they not feel free to walk the Gap without intimidation? Why should they feel they have to hole up and hide? If they felt uncomfortable with this situation, it’s not for us to tell them they are wrong!!! I don’t think we should make excuses or have any attitude other than to hope they might give Barbados another chance and hope the police/ politicians…whoever, decides to take charge at last and sort this problem out.

  6. NYC/BGI

    there is nothing with the gap that proper police presence will cure. its the lack of demand from the operators of the establishments is the reason for the behavior outside and in the GAP. Wake uo BTA!!!!

  7. 84

    Cameras would deter the drug culture,

  8. wstraughn

    It would seem the police needs to do some undercover work in the gap in regards to the drug trade… On the taxi men asking if you need a ride… that’s something that happens alot even to non white bajans it seems… I can’t walk up Broad Street without being asked… I use to wonder if the taxi men here are blind or something. Still, it may be better to be asked and not need than to need and don’t be asked /cannot get…. it’s not like if the all taxi men are working in unison.

    Regarding general harassment / begging on the streets, I’m not sure how that could be addressed meaningfully by the police/Authorities. lock up the perpetrators and you can be sure lawyers would come running to defend their ‘rights’…

  9. A policy holder

    Taxi operators are a bit of a nuisance but why bother to say no thanks every time some one says taxi to you. Just move on an ignore it,

  10. A policy holder

    I wonder just how much law the police are taught at the training school! When they are unsure of their legal position who do they question for assistance? Is there a law library that the police can use?

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  12. Adrian Loveridge

    It graphically illustrates what happens when you know (and are repeatedly reminded) that there is a problem and you don’t adequately deal with that problem. Surely, improved lighting, increased police patrols and a drug court is not ‘beyond our imagination’ ?

    Go onto the Ministry of Tourism website and view the ‘Top Tips for Visitors to Barbados’ and the link doesn’t work. When was the last time it was checked or updated?

    How many people ‘work’ in the Ministry and the BTA and what are they doing?

    Safety and Security is one of the most important decision factors when considering a destination. We already have so many challenges, why on earth don’t we start to take this industry seriously.

    The thousand plus tourism workers that have lost their jobs over the last year, mostly have a vote. What do you think they are going to do in the next election?

    A recent BTA media release stated that they are going to launch ‘effective marketing to different generations’. Great, but first deal with the current problems.

  13. If you are not part of the solution...

    Post #52 really hit home – from Peaches and Quiet – a highly respected local business. Full text pasted below.

    P&Q says…. please email the BTA President – David Rice at Maybe he will listen to you and deal with the problem. I am afraid the concerns of many of the industry players go largely unheard. We are months away from a General Election and this is perhaps the only time when politicians actually take note.


    52. Re: Disapointed with the Gap
    Aug 23, 2012, 4:38 AM

    The concerns expressed in this thread echo what has been going on for far too long and what the consequences are when you don’t deal with an obvious problem. Many constructive comments but they must be finally acted on, including better lighting, increased police presence and a drug court to get these people off the street.

    When we are open, our guests are regularly approached by a drug dealer. We know who he is, our guests know who he is and its difficult to understand why the Police appear not to know as well.

    I cannot recall just how many times this issue has been raised in various forums of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association and by its successive Presidents. For those of our cherished visitors who really consider it a problem, please email the BTA President – David Rice at Maybe he will listen to you and deal with the problem. I am afraid the concerns of many of the industry players go largely unheard. We are months away from a General Election and this is perhaps the only time when politicians actually take note.

  14. Gary

    Me and my girlfriend have just arrived back from a 10 night holiday in Barbados, we chose a hotel on St Lawrence Gap due to the places to eat and nightlife.

    On our first night out we walked 200 yards and were offered drugs 6 times, my girlfriend was scared as person after person approached us offering us drugs, some walked away after we said no, others followed us shouting at us.

    We looked for safety in the first bar we saw, we sat outside and thought we were safe as the front tables were fenced off, but again people were shouting as us over the fence, calling us over, this went on all night, one person even pulled out a bag of white powder and started waving it at us. We decided to leave and we were followed by two men shouting comments of a sexual nature at my girlfriend, to say she was petrified is an understatement.

    I’d worked 7 days a week 12 hour days to pay for this romantic break fir me and my girlfriend and I was determined not to let these people spoil it for us.

    So the next day we walked up the gap to Dover beach, as we were walking a man approached me and started rubbing Aloe Vera all over me, I said I was ok and didn’t want any, he carried on and then demanded 10 dollars, he got quite aggressive so I paid him and we moved on.

    When we arrived at the beach we sat on our loungers and every time I went to get a drink I was approached by people asking if I had ‘any bad habits’ Asking if I wanted ‘weed’ ‘Coke’ at this pointed I was starting to get really annoyed.  My girlfriend went to use the shower and several men started shouting sexual comments at her, she returned to me and said she wanted to go back to the hotel, we started walking back and was offered drugs a further 3 times and was asked for money by 2 beggars.

    We decided to give the gap another chance that night, this time we were offered drugs 9 times in the space of two hours, one man got aggressive and demanded we go and buy him a drink, another demanded 10 dollars, when we were walking back to our hotel, my girlfriend was shouted at with more comments of a sexual nature, one man even followed us to our hotel shouting ‘coke’ ‘coke’ at us.

    I could go into greater detail but I will just summarise that this happened every night, my girlfriend ended up in tears most nights and I felt terrible that I promised her a romantic break in a beautiful country and it was just ruined by these people.

    There was a police cabin on the gap but every night apart from one it was empty, and The night we saw the police they were having a conversation and laughing and joking with a man who had offered us drugs every single night! If the police wanted to, they could arrest at least 10 drug dealers every night.

    I’ve arrived home so upset and angry that a holiday I’d looked forward to and saved for all year has been totally ruined, my girlfriend said she would never go back (which is a shame because the island is beautiful and most of the Bajan people are lovely and friendly)

  15. rastaman

    What an indictment for Barbados.This is how low we have sunk.

  16. ComeHere

    @Gary. His post says it all. The aggressive, wide open retail drug trade spans the island from Dover to Mullins and beyond (Mullins, I’m told, the absolute worst with the armed “bigman” lording over his beach sales force in broad daylight). Any Bajan can tell you after 5 minutes spent in any one location who is selling drugs. The scum who have ruined the island experience for visitors hardly attempt to hide what they do to earn money. The men in Police Costumes who patrol the same areas night after night, week after week, know each and every character by name. They don’t know who is harassing the tourists? Too small of a fish for the SID men? Protecting the bigger fish who payoff the higher ups? Ask any granny in any village and she’ll provide valuable intel as to who is doing what—the cops are blind but the neighbours aren’t. The taxi men are idiots, but at least they are trying to make an honest living when not overcharging visitors USDs v BDs or cursing a refusal. But as the decision makers continue to swan around at fete after fete, drink in hand, waiting for the next sound bite or photo op on the taxpayer dime, over promising and under delivering to the nation, the country’s greatest true natural resource, “our friendly people,” is exposed to the world as a ghetto third world cesspool where decent people are harassed into tears. Who cares enough to fix the problem?

  17. Gary

    @Comehere, Brilliant post, it’s people like you that makes me think that changes can be made.

  18. Anonymous

    do like in Brazil and shoot all of them and then clean them up with a bulldozer!!!

  19. Bourne identity

    Looks like Barbados needs to do undercover stings and have plainclothes police in the Gap to set an example.

  20. countryview

    The Police do know who the drug people are…they have to as they are paid to allow their trade to continue unmolested. The Police only intervene when a drug salesman is operating without any payment to them. The Police are bribed to permit the drug trade. Same old, same old.

  21. Mac

    @84 Cameras already are present in The Gap. No change!! You have to question why the police removed the Police booth from outside McBrides!!!

    Greater police presence will help, not just at 3am to tell clubs to close!!!

  22. yatiniteasy

    On more than one occasion I have read reports in the press of visitors being arrested for drugs, when they were observed by police coming from the home of a “known drug dealer”

    It blows the mind.

  23. I'll be back, anyway.

    Those things are typical of the main tourist areas all around the world.
    I found in the Gap (and everywhere I’ve travelled) that these dealers and beggar types will leave you alone if you decline politely. The dealers wouldn’t be there if tourists weren’t buying drugs – i guess that’s what some people want to do when they travel. The aloe-vera & bay-leaf guys are a little annoying when they still procede to rub some leave on you even though you said no. But they never came twice.
    I would like to see more parking on the Gap (I prefer to rent when in BIM), especially towards the McBrides end. And since the whole Gap is walkable it would be nice if there were a little more street lighting in the rather dark East half of the Gap and police presence. Also something more like Oistons would be nice, maybe smaller – music/dancing on the beach in the evenings (not confined to a hotel grounds, rather an open to locals and tourists kind of thing). Guess you’d have to knock down one of those hotels to get a window to the sea for that?

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  25. visitor

    It’s a culture problem pure and simple. That’s sad.

  26. 240

    Sad. I’m not a frequent visitor to the gap but the majority of the time I’ve been there there were no police officers in the police mobile booth. And by the way, who’s monitoring the 84+ cameras? Any answers Mr. Dottin, Sir?

  27. Concerned Bajan

    The police knows who to arrest, they are not foolish! i have actually walked down the gap one night and have a man shout at me “Charlie!Charlie!”, with a policeman on the other side of the street watching. The problem is Barbados law is different as to oppose to other countries. They cannot do stings as they have entrapment laws as far as i understand when i talked to a policeman.

  28. Concerned Bajan

    @ visitor
    I would like to correct you about that being our culture because that is far from any law abiding bajan culture as far as I am concerned.

  29. sounds like much ado about nothing…and who is this guy anyway, one never knows with these “posters” unfortunately. I’ve seen people over react at things you wouldn’t believe! Could this be an instance…Been to the Gap many times on my trips home and none of this, yes there are a few stragglers around but he makes it sound like shear pandemonium going on down there and it’s just not so or at least not on the nights when I was there are I parties waaaay after 12pm so dunno bout that one either.

  30. Concerned Tourism Worker

    As a long time resident of St. Lawrence I have seen Marked deterioration in the Gap in recent times. There are more drug dealers and harassers than ever before and a lot of “igrant” taxi drivers. If you say no to them you get cursed, shouted at and they talk about you when you pass them. The aloe men ( 2 of them) are constantly hounding people and are exactly as the above posts have stated – aggressive and threatening.
    There are pockets of men hanging out in various spots who do nothing except harass visitors and sell drugs. They run to them, shake their hands and list the “items” available for sale, ranging from girls,women, boys, men and every type of drug imaginable. And don’t leave a bag or purse anywhere- you will get robbed!
    There are also a few “prickles” who go off on a regular basis and frighten tourists with their aggressive and scary behavior! Many years ago a list was given to the police by the then St.Lawrence Marketing Committee of the main harassers in the Gap – that list has hardly changed – there are just more names on it!
    The police wait until something serious happens before anything is done, yes I too have seen them laughing and joking with the worst offenders. The beach rangers are also a lazy bunch (with the exception of one or two) who sit around and sleep most of the day!
    The Gap is dirty – The Dover beach facility is a disgrace as is the always full NCC skip across the road, outside the bar at Time Out. Look at the overflowing garbage cans outside the former Ship on a Sunday!!
    Unless something is done to clean up this mess soon there will be no Gap and therefore no more tourists

  31. Been there, seen it, done it...

    The closest post that came to the truth here is ‘Come Here’. I have to admit I am not very ‘vocal’ sometimes on these issues but maybe now is the time. I owned a hotel in St Lawrence Gap for many years and the drug dealers became the absolute curse of my life, outside my hotel 24/7. Want me to name and shame – sure – Biggs, Ronnie, Monkey, Andy (aka Scab) and all the rest, who relentlessly (and I mean relentlessly) offered their ‘wares’ to all and sundry, to a point where guests where afraid to step outside the compound. I often had to ‘escort’ my guests up the street, purely to make them feel safe and free from unwanted harassment, offering the dealers the only language they understand – F%*k Off!,

    But wait, I am getting to the important part, the bit you have all missed – as told to me on many occasion to my face – who do you think is behind most of the deals, how are the drugs getting on the island? The Police are so thick in this whole operation it’s scary, protecting their interests and their cash flow. Along with many other ‘authorative bodies’ – and trust me when I say they are all at it – they will turn a blind eye to anything to boost their income and line their pockets. I have seen it, dealt with it, and to be honest, gave up on it. There have been nights when I have called the Police maybe four or five times reporting blatant drug peddling directly outside my premises, watched then pull up, have a laugh and joke with the offenders, and pull away with absolutely no action taken, no body search, no arrests, nothing. Leaving the ‘druggies’ to firstly laugh in my face, and secondly to explain to my guests that ‘well we tried, but they still there’.

    This whole situation makes me sick to my stomach, but people have to be aware that nothing will ever change, it’s the way it is.

    Please understand that I have the utmost respect for the law-abiding Barbadian, I am not trying to ‘dis’ the island in any way (jeezon, I love Bim to my bones), but the scourge of this island need taking off the streets, if not just for ‘Garys’ post above (and I feel for you bro, appreciate totally what you went through), but for the Tourist industry as a whole, because, for all the positive promotions that the BTA do, it’s just one step forward, two steps back – don’t brush it under the rug – the problem is real.

  32. God Bless Bim

    On the subject of sexual comments by Bajan males towards females, this is something that they do to female tourists and female locals alike. I have travelled the world and live in Barbados, nowhere have I experienced this like in Barbados. I often ask myself why the Bajan male degrades himself in this way? It would be good if The Board of Education could start teaching the young males in our society respect for themselves and others around them. I know female visitors who jog with earphones and music, strictly to avoid hearing the sexual comments.

  33. victor

    I would just like to recommend visitors to NOT go to the Gap or other areas like Oistens on a Friday night. Try to research before you come on holiday to Barbados. There are many other places you can go where you will be left alone to enjoy this beautiful island. If you hang out in tourist places you will be vulnerable to these barbarous attacks. I too have experienced the Barbados police not giving a damn about a visitor’s welfare, didn’t care, just dismissed her. The police attitude seems to be that you will be gone in a few days so why bother with the paperwork? If you want to enjoy a visit to the island either get an all-inclusive (not my choice!) or take the trouble before you book your holiday to see where else you could stay that might be more enjoyable. In the meantime, shame on Barbados’ powers that be for not dealing with this issue; obviously money must be changing hands. Welcome to the Third World, Barbados! Your begging-bowl is ready and waiting…!

  34. 50

    @ Victor

    I can agree about the harassment in St. Lawrence Gap but I don’t think it applies to Oistins. I have never heard anyone say they were harassed there. You only hear good things about it. Just a couple weeks ago I drove through St. Lawrence Gap one Friday night and it was dead. Then on to Oistins and it was packed with visitors enjoying themselves.

  35. Green Monkey

    I see the Bajan Reporter is reporting on a robbery that occurred at the Royal Bank in Hastings Sunday morning when someone using the instant teller had her handbag stolen and was also physically assaulted when she tried to hold onto the bag.
    Mr. Bourne is asking, Is the South Coast of Barbados now similar to Jesse James & Wild West ?
    Read about it here including a description of the alleged robber:

  36. yatiniteasy

    Royal Bank Robbery and assault….surely the Bank has security cameras there that should have captured the whole event…I often wonder if the cameras you see all over the place are actually active…including the phantom 84 cameras in the Gap.

  37. gee

    i have been to barbados over 40 times and have lived there. I agree the gap has drugs on offer but i have never been offered them. There was a big police prescence in the gap last year when i visited. Taxis do tout for fares and the odd person asks for money but i have to say we have that in uk in most busy areas. I have never experienced a bad holiday in barbados. Reggae lounge and mcbrides are locals and tourists as most of the venues in the gap.

  38. 29

    it is terrible and nobody is doing anything about it – borrow money yes, thats all they good for

  39. caz

    Barbados is beautiful, it has its problems as do all countries with the effect of the recession, being offered a taxi home is hardly threatening or scary and as for the drugs you only have to say no. The cost of living for a Barbadian is so high that lots of unemployed youths turn to selling drugs the whole of Barbados society needs addressing, Barbados has sat back for too long expecting tourists to arrive, it is time to smarten up their act and restore it to the best holiday destination that it once was and still should be.c