The Jamaican Government has announced a state of emergency on Thursday, January 18, as a warning to the rising number of criminal incidents in the country’s northwestern region. Tourists are advised to stay in their resorts although the ministry of tourism asserted that the country was still safe for travellers.
Jamaica is an iconic tourist destination among all the countries in the world. The Caribbean island nation boasts of reef-lined beaches, rainforests, and mountains. Thousands of people visit there to enjoy numerous snorkelling and diving sites and explore the birthplace of Bob Marley and reggae music.
The declaration of the state of emergency came after multiple shooting incidents in the parish of St. James that also includes the crowd-favourite tourist town of Montego Bay. The officials blame lottery scams and gangs for the increase in killings in recent time.
The UK Foreign Office suggested British tourists stay in the safety of their resorts and hotels. A spokesman also said that the travellers should follow the local authority’s safety advice and restriction rules.
The U.S. State Department also issued a security alert through their embassy in Kingston. It urged the citizens to stay within their secured perimeter suggested by the local government.
The gang crime has been intensified in many areas in Jamaica. In 2017, 335 murders alone took place in the St. James parish, according to the local newspaper Gleaner. The government has started a major military operation to put a stop the criminal activities. The recreational and business areas are currently under a temporary curfew and police can search them without a warrant.
Jamaica’s ministry of tourism does not think the situations to be dangerous for the tourists. According to them, the state of emergency was a means to ensure the safety of the local people who could be caught up in gang wars.
The country’s minister of tourism, Edmund Bartlett, asserted that everything was still open for business as usual. Referring to the country’s low crime rate against visitors, he said that the latest security measures would further help in keeping up that enviable statistic.