In a remarkable turn of events, Jamaica’s tourism sector has experienced a surge in traffic despite the challenging circumstances posed by a stern travel advisory issued by the United States’ State Department earlier this year.
The advisory, raising concerns about violent crimes and safety in certain areas of the island, cast a shadow over Jamaica’s tourism industry.
According to jamaicaobserver.com, the advisory had warned that “violent crimes, such as home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts”.
Even more disheartening was the suggestion that, “the local police often do not respond effectively to serious criminal incidents”.
It also claimed that families of US citizens killed in accidents or homicides frequently wait a year or more for final death certificates to be issued by Jamaican authorities and that “emergency services and hospital care vary throughout the island…”
But, even though a “do not travel” advisory, aimed at Jamaica and Colombia, was issued for several areas on the island, including downtown Kingston, Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said that, initially, he focused on a ministry response to the warnings from the State Department.
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“In other words, I didn’t want the Americans to feel that we ignored their advice, but we want the focus of the ministry to be on growth, and to build a safer, more secured and seamless destination,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
“The result was that we still have good numbers and we are getting more. We have a 42 per cent repeat business and the month of October was the best October in the history of our tourism. To go anywhere near 200,000 visitors for the month is unprecedented,” he added.
The minister noted that there was a significant rise in seat capacity, which underlines the strength and appeal of Jamaica’s tourism industry. He underscored the million arrivals up to recently, Jamaica winning the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s destination resilience awards, and the island being on track for an 11 per cent growth this year.
Bartlett was being honoured by the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech), in association with the Technology Innovation Centre and Mack & Mack Innovations, at the university’s Papine campus in St Andrew, for the publication of his newest book, Thought Leadership on Tourism, Resilience and Sustainability in the 21st Century.
He said that the new book is the second he has written, recalling that the first was a joint venture by himself and Professor Lloyd Waller of the digital transformation policy and governance section of The University of the West Indies (UWI).