Tourists visiting in numbers despite negative travel advisories

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A tourist resort. Picture courtesy of Mikhail Nilov.

Despite the numerous travel advisories issued by different countries including, America and Canada warning visitors to be cautious when traveling to Jamaica, there has been an increase in the number of tourists entering Jamaica in the past year

Canadians have been warned twice by their government about Jamaica’s crime rate. First, at the beginning of December when a state of emergency (SOE) was imposed on several parishes on 6 December and the second on Wednesday 28 December when another SOE was imposed. The Canadian Government attributed its reason for the travel advisories to violent crimes, women’s safety, and sexual assault, spiked food and drinks, fraud, demonstrations (protests), and road safety. Therefore, visitors must “exercise a high degree of caution”.

The last travel advisory that was issued by America was in October. Potential visitors were encouraged to reconsider traveling “to Jamaica due to crime…Some areas have increased risk”. Places that were listed on the advisory were Clarendon, Hanover, Kingston, St Andrew, Montego Bay, St Ann, St Catherine, St James and Westmoreland. The advisory was attributed to violent crimes, home invasions, homicides, armed robberies and sexual assaults.

Yet, there has been a wave of famous people visiting the island of late, from the likes of Cardi B, Offset and Burna Boy to Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada and his family. Trudeau and his family are currently spending a week in Jamaica. The visit has gathered a lot of attention from multiple government dignitaries. This attention is currently boosting and highlighting the tourism industry of Jamaica.

The Ministry of Tourism expects that they will earn up to US$1.5 million for the winter season which started on December 15. This is a 36 percent increase in comparison to 2019. There will also be an increase in visitors as the frigid climate in some countries like America and Canada increases. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism said, “this winter is going to be the best winter Jamaica has had”. Bartlett explained that there will be 950,000 tourists from stopovers and 540,000 tourists from cruises. This will be the largest number of visitors Jamaica has ever received.

Bartlett expects that they will make up to US$51.9 million from cruises this year, a significant increase over US$14 million last year. So far, for the year 2022, Jamaica has received over three million stopovers and total earnings from tourism is US$3.7 billion. Director of Tourism Donovan White said, “since the reopening (tourism industry) in June 2020 we have been making a strong marketing push to ensure that Jamaica remains top of mind among our traditional and emerging source markets”. White credits the success to the forming of relationships with “travel industry partners.”

The multiple SOEs and travel advisories issued have not deterred visitors from coming to Jamaica and the tourism industry is still prospering.

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