Jamaica Tourism Minister: Destination Safe Despite State of Emergency

Edmund Bartlett
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett // Photo by Joe Pike

The government of Jamaica is reporting early success in its state of emergency for St. James Parish aimed at cracking down on crime. At the same time, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says that the destination remains safe for travelers.

According to a statement on the government of Jamaica’s website, there have been “encouraging results” since the state of emergency was declared last week. At a media briefing Saturday morning, Colonel Daniel Pryce, Colonel General Staff of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) said that within the first 24 hours of operations security officials were able to seize a Kalashnikov rifle that is suspected to have been used in a recent killing in the parish, as well as six live rounds.  

Security operations have also resulted in the arrest of eight members of the Sparta gang, who were wanted for murder and other gun-related crimes, as well as the arrest of 15 people in connection with the illegal purchase and sale of gasoline in Freeport.

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Over the weekend Jamaica Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett reassured media that the destination remains safe for travelers.

“These enhanced security measures are not out of the ordinary in international tourism markets and therefore would be understood by visitors and welcomed by residents,” Bartlett told The Independent. “All members of the tourism fraternity have given their full support to the measure and are feeling that these actions are welcome to ensure the safety of Jamaica’s guests and citizens.”

Bartlett also noted that there should be no need for people in the areas affected by the state of emergency to modify their movements, according to The Independent.

The state of emergency issued last week affects Jamaica’s St. James Parish, including popular tourism area Montego Bay. The order affects an area including King Street, Cottage Road, Rose Heights, Cambridge, Norwood and the Trelawny-St. James border. According to the latest update from the government of Jamaica, within the affected area, all clubs and fast food outlets must be closed by midnight; all service stations by 10 p.m.; all bars and taverns by 9 p.m.; all cook shops and haberdasheries by 7 p.m.; and all hangouts and corner shops by 6 p.m.

Since the state of emergency was declared, the State Department has not changed its travel advisory for Jamaica, which was last updated January 10 as part of the State Department’s complete reorganization of how it presents safety and security information for international travel. Under the new system Jamaica is listed as Level 2 – Exercise Increased Caution, out of four possible levels. Travelers are advised to be aware of heightened risks to safety and security, and should specifically be aware of the potential for violence and shootings in Kingston, Montego Bay and Spanish Town.

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