If you were planning to go to Jamaica for your next family vacation, you might want to reconsider. The U.S., along with several other countries, have issued travel warnings for the famously easygoing country. This was due in large part to a recent spike in violent crimes. Most recently, and Canadian couple was murdered while vacationing in St. Thomas.
Much of the recent crime has been tied to drug trafficking and various gangs. The numbers are staggering. In 2016 alone, there were 448 aggravated assaults, 481 rapes, 1,215 shootings, and 1,350 murders. This according to the stats reported by The U.S. State Department. These frightening numbers have led local authorities to issue a state of emergency. They have also implemented a temporary curfew and increase the military presence in the more dangerous areas. The travel advisory issued by the State Department on January 10 also applies to the areas of Montego Bay, Spanish Town, and Kingston.
Other countries that have issued similar travel warnings include Canada and The U.K. They also warned their travelers to avoid similar areas with higher crime rates, and to especially be extra careful when walking around at night. The U.K. warning also included instructions to stay within their resort as much as possible, and to only use the transportation provided by their resort or by the airport.
Naturally, Jamaica is worried about the economic effect these travel warnings have, as tourism brings in a great deal of money for them. They have assured travelers that it is still a safe vacation destination, thanks to the measures they have taken to combat the spike in crime.
In an interview with The Independent, Jamaica’s minister of tourism, Edmund Bartlett said, “All members of the tourism fraternity have given their full support to the [increased security] measures and are feeling that these actions are welcome to ensure the safety of Jamaica’s guests and citizens.”
It sounds like they’re doing their best to keep everyone safe, but I’d be lying if I said I’d be nervous to visit the country right now. But I will definitely be keeping an eye on Jamaica and how they handle the crime rate moving forward. Hopefully, they’re able to bring it down in the very near future.