Recent reports of escalating and violent crime in Jamaica calls for a word of caution to tourists travelling to the hot destination spot this winter.
The government of Canada’s travel website issued a travel advisory that is still active, citing a state of emergency in St James Parish which includes popular resort town Montego Bay.
The state of emergency was declared by the Jamaican government “as a result of a significant increase in violent crime. Military forces have been deployed in the area in an attempt to stabilize the situation.”
This state of emergency went into effect on January 18th, 2018 and as of Sunday, was extended for another three months.
Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica, said ten guns had been seized in the affected area, while 51 people had been arrested since the emergency was declared.
Travellers staying at resorts are urged to “restrict movements” if they are staying in the affected area. Day trips should only be made through the resort’s transportation services and organized tour operators.
“A married couple from Winnipeg was found dead earlier this month while visiting Jamaica.”
The travel advisory warns visitors to be “extremely vigilant” while following the instructions of local police and monitoring the news.
Sunwing airlines notes that it flies approx. 5,000 visitors to the airport in Montego Bay each week, where 95% of travellers choose all-inclusive resorts. Airbnb guests are likely the most affected by this recent civil unrest.
“The [Sunwing] travel company also said in a statement that it's waiving its usual fee to allow customers to change their reservation to an all-inclusive resort if they are currently booked in a non-inclusive resort or hotel in St. James Parish. Customers would still be required to pay the applicable price difference.”
Comparatively, “[t]here are currently more than 60 countries where the Canadian government warns travelers to "exercise a high degree of caution," including other Caribbean nations such as the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Trinidad and Tobago, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.”
Tourism has long been a foreign exchange leader for Jamaica and forms one of its largest industries.