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Monday, August 19, 2019

Jamaica Extends Emergency Amidst Record Tourism

The Jamaican government has extended a state of emergency for popular tourist destinations on the Caribbean island to October 28, as officials warned of a significant increase in violent crime since the start of the year. What makes this particularly interesting is the claim by Jamaica tourist officials 2019 has been a record year for tourism.

The Canadian government updated the emergency status, which was set to expire on Tuesday, on its website for travellers.

Under the warning, which applied to the St James, Hanover, and Westmoreland parishes, security forces have greater leeway to conduct searches, seizures, and detain persons of interest, and impose curfews without notice, the government said.

Popular tourist destination of Montego Bay is also included in the travel warning.

A separate state of emergency that was issued for St Andrew parish, which includes areas of the capital, Kingston, remained in effect until October 5. 

While violent crimes against tourists are relatively low, travellers were nonetheless advised to always cooperate with authorities, always carry valid ID and expect potential checkpoints. Tourists were also advised to avoid leaving the resort after dark, avoid public transportation and unmarked taxis, be vigilant and do not go out alone even during the day, and monitor local news.

Drug and gang-related violent crimes such as murders and shootings have reportedly increased in St Andrew South Police Division this year.

More than a dozen areas in Greater Kingston and half a dozen areas of Montego Bay were listed as having a substantial gang population with a significant level of violent crime, though petty crime, credit card, and ATM fraud were also common.

The Jamaican government first declared a state of emergency for St James parish in January, 2018 and extended it several times, while a similar declaration for St. Catherine last year was lifted.

The Canadian government cautioned travellers from Canada to “exercise a high degree of caution” at all times, but stopped short of asking travellersto avoid non-essential travel.

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