The star development this week as Newsmaker of the Week has just ended is the publication of a level three travel advisory by the United States urging its citizens to reconsider visiting Jamaica and listing eight of the country’s 14 parishes considered an “increased risk” due to delinquency.
The US State Department issued a travel advisory for Jamaica on Tuesday, May 31, leaving many in tourism and the business sector in general scared and stunned by the likely impact of the development.
In fact, with the advisory being issued just before the summer travel season, the advisory singled out the popular Montego Bay resort town of St James as an area to avoid, due to crime.
Interestingly, there was some silence from several stakeholder groups in Jamaica regarding the advisory, with only one key, unnamed tourism player retorting that Jamaica is one of the safest destinations for visitors.
Travel advisories from the United States are nothing new or strange for Jamaica, other Caribbean countries or anywhere else in the world, as collectively many countries have received similar advisories for areas within within their respective borders.
Interestingly again, amidst these reviews, tourists generally did not appear to have had a significant incentive to leave or refuse to travel to the countries that were named in the reviews.
As many social media users have pointed out, the latest advisory on Jamaica is considered quite ironic because in the United States, the media has widely revealed that more than 200 cases of mass shootings have occurred since the beginning of the year. The two most recent mass shootings took place late last month when an 18-year-old man shot and killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas; and in Tulsa last Wednesday, when a man fired into a hospital medical building, killing three.
And details of another mass shooting in the United States are emerging today, Sunday June 5. A shooting near a Tennessee nightclub early Sunday left three people dead and 14 people injured with gunshots and other injuries, police said.
Still, the United States has warned Americans not to travel to the Jamaican parishes of Clarendon, Hanover, Kingston, St Andrew, St Ann, St Catherine, St James and Westmoreland.
“Violent crimes, such as home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults and homicides, are common. Sexual assaults occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts,” the notice said.
“Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents,” he added.
The travel advisory also said emergency services vary across the island and response times may differ from US standards.
“The Jamaican government’s reported homicide rate has for several years been among the highest in the Western Hemisphere,” the advisory continued.
He also provided a breakdown of the areas of the eight parishes that US government personnel are not permitted to travel to, adding that they are also prohibited from using public buses and driving outside of prescribed areas of Kingston at night.
As for St James, US authorities have warned their citizens not to venture into areas of Montego Bay including Canterbury, Flanker, Glendevon, Mount Salem, Norwood and Rose Heights.
Late last month, Rose Heights was the scene of a deadly gun attack that killed three people and injured two others.
Statistics released by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) on May 27 revealed that murders had increased by 7% nationwide.
There were 594 murders recorded up to May 27, compared to 555 for the corresponding period last year.
To the JCF’s credit, they have stepped up operations and achieved notable success in their efforts to recover illegal firearms and apprehend gang members and wanted people.
In recent weeks, a number of men wanted for serious crimes have been killed in armed clashes with police, and others have surrendered or been taken into custody.
The most recent incident came on Thursday night when police said one of St James’s most notorious figures, Odane Christopher, and one of his pals were shot and killed during a clash with police on the St Catherine leg of the Edward Seaga (North-South) Highway.
In another high-profile arrest by police, dancehall producer Linval Thompson, popularly known as ‘Shab Don’, was detained on Friday as a person of interest in connection with last month’s triple murder in Rose Heights, St. James. He is to be questioned in the next few days.
Amid soaring local crime and the U.S. travel advisory, a key tourism player reminded naysayers that “Jamaica’s visitor safety record is still one of the worst. raised in the world”.
Added the tourism actor, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the travel advisory, but spoke to Loop News on condition of anonymity on Thursday: “Less than one percent of visitors who come here have committed offenses (against them).
“So while we recognize that advisories are issued from time to time for the benefit of the destinations issuing them, we must continue to strive to make our destination a priority for our visitors, and even grow our customer base. recurring from the (current) 42% to 50, 60%, ”said the tourism actor.
On the issue of crime, the tourism stakeholder urged those involved in criminal activities to stop, as their actions have the potential to negatively impact the tourism sector.
“We want to urge the few people who are having a negative impact on the destination to refrain. Stop it, as it is potentially damaging to the market,” launched the tourist interest.
However, there were different perspectives on social media platforms regarding the US travel advisory for Jamaica, with several people even imploring the Jamaican government to come up with its own advisory warning Jamaicans in relation to the United States.
Facebook user Cecil Whyte asked: “Why isn’t Jamaica posting a travel advisory for US travel either?”
He shared that the notice should read: “Be very careful, you may get caught in a random shootout on the street, subway, (in) church, grocery store, hospital, (and) at little nearly everywhere you go, there could be a mass shooting.
“So be very careful when traveling to the United States.”
Another Facebook user, Barbara Blair Shaw, agreed with Whyte’s comments on the matter.
“Cecil Whyte, (I) agree with you. I don’t know why people, and especially our Jamaicans, love to bring down our beautiful island,” she posted.
“I come home every year and go everywhere and have a great time. When I go now, I stay for months. I love my beautiful island, Jamaica, and I wouldn’t give it up for anyone or anything. anything,” she added.
While agreeing that Jamaican authorities could reasonably issue an advisory against travel to certain areas of the United States, Susane Fredericks said the seriousness of the criminal situation in Jamaica is not wrong.
She commented, “Well, that’s not wrong. But we might issue a travel advisory to the United States, due to the random mass shootings, general chaos and police brutality against minorities.”
Another social media user, Lisa Allen, broke ranks with the general opinions expressed and shared that she had no problem with the US travel advisory.
“Well it is what it is, there is nothing wrong with advising your citizen,” she wrote.
She added: “I will always sell my beautiful country for its lush vegetation, its beaches, it’s nature in all its glory.
“However, when asked about the crime, I try to be very open and transparent.
“What’s the point of hedging when the digital spheres allow everyone to tap? That’s exactly what it is,” Allen said.
Janice Burgher opines that there could be a motive behind the issuance of the advisory depending on its timing.
“This (the advisory) is definitely aimed at diverting tourists to another popular tourist destination,” Burgher said.
Continuing, she said: “It was recently announced that Jamaica was booked at full capacity for the summer, so this is being done to discourage visitors or cause them to cancel their reservations.
“These notices are things to consider when visiting a country other than your own…Crime is everywhere and people just need to be vigilant and let common sense prevail,” she wrote. .
There were also a few people who, in addition to tearing up the notice, claimed that tourists are safer in Jamaica than Jamaicans in general. Among those who shared this view was Jedidiah Feliciano Thorpe.
“America please! Tourists are safer than me here. Right now, Jamaica is one of the most booked tourist destinations in the Caribbean,” he said, adding that “at least tourists recognize ‘little chicken heaven is falling'” over Jamaica is exaggerated most of the time.
“Many tourists who come here say they feel much safer here than in their own America.”
Dwight Buchanan also agreed with this position, who wrote: “I have been going to Jamaica (for) 27 years, (so) yes safe for tourists, but not for locals.
“Most of the locals are wonderful people,” he continued.
But Shai Sir-Xander Gray suggested that “Jamaicans living in Jamaica are advising their own people not to leave their homes. Don’t be angry with the United States advising their own people.”
On Instagram, applegirljaye explained that “the harsh reality is that the United States is safer for Jamaicans than Jamaica is for its people, and (the plot) twists when it comes to Americans, because they are safer in Jamaica than they are in their country.” country, so that’s just my point of view. »
But Karineespence3 disagreed with this comment, calling it “nonsense”.
She further wrote, “Unuh, come on social media and talk all kinds of nonsense, because nobody cares about you in America and just shoots and kills like that.
“In Jamaica nuh mine sharp u (your) family set you up and rob you when you come so stop talking nonsense in the media!” asked the Instagram user.
On Twitter, @loudelja accepted the notice.
“They are right. Don’t come. Jamaica is not safe for Jamaicans living here,” the individual tweeted.
Twitter user Susanne Brown, however, disagreed with this view and asked, “So is America safe to live?
“When you send your child to school in Jamaica, he comes home. (In) America, I can’t (say) the same,” she explained.
Another Twitter user, @IrasLabs, asked if the authorities were serious about tackling the crime monster Jamaica is facing.
“Probably just a matter of time, the other parishes are also listed (by the United States). Are we serious about our country, or do we prefer to leave crime to ferment?” the social media user interviewed.
“Technology can significantly reduce crime on the rock,” the user offered.