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US: ‘Don’t go to Jamaica’

Regional 19 Feb, 2024 Follow News

Jamaican police are dealing with high crime rates

Black Americans love visiting Jamaica

Jamaican officials are denying that the island is too dangerous to visit after the latest United States Department of State’s travel advisory recommending Americans not to visit there because of its “crime and medical services.”

Jamaica remains at Level 3, which encourages people to “reconsider travel”. That is one level away from the most severe warning. The State Department claimed that Jamaican authorities are poor at responding to serious crimes, robberies, assaults and other incidents. “Sexual assaults occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts,” the statement says, adding that Jamaica has one of the highest homicide rates in the Western Hemisphere.

The level 3 rating has been in place since 2022. Jamaican officials admit that while there are areas that certainly do report a high risk for crime, tourists rarely experience that first hand. “Overall, the crime rate against visitors to Jamaica remains extremely low at 0.01%,” the Jamaican Tourist Board announced. 

Despite the negativity, Jamaica remains one of the top honeymoon destinations for US residents, according to TripAdvisor. It remains immensely popular, especially for black Americans.

Johnson Smith, Jamaican Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, said: “In recent years, the Government has more than doubled its investments to strengthen our capacity to tackle crime and health-related challenges across the island for the benefit of our citizens and indeed everyone who wishes to visit Jamaica.”

The advisory mentions that families of US citizens that have been killed on the island have had to wait for at least a year to receive the death certificate of their family member. US government personnel are also prohibited from taking public buses and driving out of certain areas of Kingston during the evenings.

The advisory also says that hospital care is not timely and can be of low quality, compared to US standards.

Smith added that Jamaica is disappointed that the US has not taken into account its progress towards creating a safer community for all. Jamaica experienced 83 murders in January 2024, compared to 109 reported homicides in January 2023.

Jamaica relies heavily on tourism, which accounted for more than 30% of the country’s economic output prior to the pandemic. “If there was ever an industry that has the potential to transform our nation, our communities and the lives and livelihoods of the Jamaican people for the better, it is tourism,” Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, said. “Visitors can continue to come with confidence to enjoy all that Jamaica has to offer.”

Jamaica has encouraged travellers to continue to visit. It hosted 4.1 million people last year. American visitors are advised to avoid walking or driving at night, taking public buses, and going to any secluded areas. They are also told to not resist any robbery attempts.

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