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Travel industry news

20 Mar 2018

BY James Chapple


Jamaica 'safe for tourists' despite new state of emergency

Jamaica remains safe for tourists despite the country declaring a second state of emergency following a surge in gang violence.

Jamaica sign

Jamaica 'safe for tourists' despite new state of emergency

That is the message from the Jamaica Tourist Board after fresh security measures were enforced on Sunday (March 18) in the St Catherine North police division.


Nearly 50 people have been killed this year between January 1 to March 18 “due mainly to gang activity”, the Jamaican government has said.


The announcement was made by prime minister Andrew Holness, who said the clamp down in and around the capital Kingston would last, initially, for two weeks.


Some 241 Jamaica National Service Corps personnel have been drafted in to assist.


St Catherine North covers the townships of Central Village, as well as parts of Spanish Town, Bog Walk and Linstead.


Holness said: “The security forces have advised me in writing a high level of criminal activity continues and threatens public order and the rule of law. This threat is extensive.”


In a statement, the Jamaica Tourist Board said it would like to reassure visitors Jamaica remains safe, adding the affected areas are outside those frequented by tourists.


A separate state of emergency was declared for the country’s St James Parish, which includes Montego Bay, on January 19, again, due to localised violence. This has since been extended until May 2, albeit with the government’s advice softened.


The crime rate in respect of incidents involving visitors remains just 0.01%, the tourist board added, stressing 2017 was a record breaking year for tourism in Jamaica with the country welcoming 4.3 million people.


Sri Lanka and Tunisia updates

Sri Lanka and Tunisia updates

Meanwhile, a state of emergency in Sri Lanka, enforced on March 6, has been lifted.


The government withdrew the order on Saturday (March 17). It was imposed following violent clashes in Kandy district.


Curfews were imposed and visitors experienced social media blackouts.


However, there was no disruption reported at Bandaranaike International airport in Colombo and tour operators in the country said there was minimal disruption for tourists.


And despite the country’s prime minister saying the clashes had harmed the country’s reputation as a tourist destination, Sri Lanka Tourism said the country was safe.


Fresh guidance from the Foreign Office, issued on Monday, reads: “If you’re in Sri Lanka or due to travel, you’re advised to exercise caution, avoid protests and rallies, and follow the advice of the local authorities. In addition to our travel advice, you may wish to consult the Sri Lankan Tourism Development Authority website.”


It was also announced last week Tunisia’s ongoing state of emergency had been extended by a further seven months, despite the resumption of charter flights from the UK last month and both Thomas Cook and Tui relaunching their Tunisia programmes.


The country was first placed on alert in November 2015 following a suicide attack on a police bus, months after 38 people - including 30 British holidaymakers - were shot dead on a beach in the tourist resort of Sousse.


The state of emergency has been extended a number of times since then, most recently on Monday (March 12). The Foreign Office has updated its advice for visitors.

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