Jamaica again declares a “state of emergency”, the tourism industry is threatened by a high crime rate

Jamaica’s state of emergency could threaten its tourism industry as crime in the country continues to rise and local authorities struggle to deal with it.

“That’s all the government is trying to do,” Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said, adding that Jamaicans “have to hide under their beds, hide their daughters, can’t go to church, and their sons and their friends.” see and husband was killed. That’s the reality.”

The U.S. Department of State on 5/10 issued a Level 3 travel advisory, indicating Americans should “reconsider travel” due to an increased risk of crime in the country. The guide noted that “violent crimes such as home burglary, armed robbery, sexual assault and homicide are common” and that “sexual assault is common,” even at all-inclusive resorts.

“Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents,” the report said. “Emergency services vary across the island, and response times may differ from US standards. The homicide rate reported by the Jamaican government has been among the highest in the western hemisphere for several years.”

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Jamaica seemed to acknowledge the seriousness of its problem by declaring a state of emergency on November 11. December 15, to better empower authorities to deal with crime in the capital, Kingston, as well as popular tourist spots like Montego Bay, imposed it on 6/15 due to rising violence and gang crime.

The state of emergency has proved controversial because authorities can arrest people and search buildings without a warrant, potentially leading to police abuse, critics argue, but Holness stressed the need to tackle the issue.

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness is shown at the State Department on April 1, 2022 in Washington.

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness is shown at the State Department on April 1, 2022 in Washington.
(Olivier Douliery/Pool via Reuters/File)

“We have some really serious criminal threats ahead of us and we need to use all the resources at our disposal,” Holness said.

Tourism is Jamaica’s main source of income, which according to Statista accounted for up to 29% of the country’s GDP in 2019 (before the pandemic) and was linked to remittances (money or goods sent back by nationals who had emigrated from the country). Jamaica welcomed more than 1.5 million tourists in 2021, spending more than $2.095 billion, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

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And the US accounted for the largest spending and best-performing market for tourists on the island with fewer than 1.3 million stopover arrivals (longer than 24 hours for international travelers) in 2021.

The double win of a US travel advisory and a national state of emergency could significantly hamper Jamaica’s tourism industry and therefore threaten its economy, according to David Katz, a former US federal agent and founder and CEO of Global Security Group Inc.

Jamaica's state of emergency could threaten its tourism industry as crime in the country continues to rise and local authorities struggle to deal with it.

Jamaica’s state of emergency could threaten its tourism industry as crime in the country continues to rise and local authorities struggle to deal with it.
(Reuters/Gilbert Bellamy)

“For the past few years, depending on the political situation, the State Department has been reluctant, sometimes even, to issue an alert,” Katz told Fox News Digital, explaining that advice alone can hurt the economy and “is generally not well received by the person.” of advice.”

Katz noted that while people will do much to ignore the travel warning, Jamaica’s state of emergency is likely to have a larger impact and draw attention.

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“If Jamaica says, ‘We have a state of emergency, we’re totally out of control,’ there will be repercussions,” Katz said.

Katz also stressed the greater need to focus on safety when traveling, noting the situation in Peru, where hundreds of American tourists have left the country due to protests that erupted last week following the impeachment of Pedro Castillo. can not leave President. At least 200 Americans remain stranded in Machu Picchu, with no way of even getting back to their hotels, let alone getting home, as protesters have shut down airport trains, roads and runways.

Doctor's Cave Beach in Montego Bay, Jamaica

Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay, Jamaica
(David I. Muir/Jamaica Tourist Board/dpa-tmn)

“I ask people all the time: Where are you going? Is there a professional fire brigade there? Which traffic rules apply? Katz said, adding that “Statistically, the largest number of Americans who are either seriously injured or killed abroad [is] as a result of traffic accidents.”

“So, you know, you want to look at these things… You always have to understand some basics: you need accommodations, you need an in and out way, you need medical care – does your health insurance cover you if you’re crossing? the border?”

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“We would recommend in our practice: Postpone all non-essential travel unless there was something really, really urgent about the trip. Move them,” Katz said.

A request for comment from the State Department and Jamaica’s Tourism Authority was not immediately answered.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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