KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday June 24, 2016 – In response to concerns raised about the latest travel advisory issued by the Canadian government on Jamaica, Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett has contended that the move was routine and is not expected to significantly impact visitor arrivals from Canada, as instances of violence against tourists are very low.
The Canadian government recently upgraded its travel advisory, encouraging its citizens not to venture into sections of the Corporate Area and western Jamaica because of its high levels of crime.
It warned that travellers that violent crime is a problem in large cities in Jamaica, particularly Kingston, Spanish Town and Montego Bay.
But Bartlett said: “This review is done regularly and Jamaica fell into the second category of ‘elevated risk’ along with most of the destinations in this region. It was not done in response to any single incident so we must be careful not to misinterpret the advisory or its purpose.”
He also cautioned Jamaicans not to send negative messages about the country’s tourism product as it may hinder the growth of the sector.
“Tourism is perhaps the only industry in Jamaica that has grown consistently for the past 35 years. However we must be careful in our pronouncements so as not to fuel fear and anxiety which can be deleterious to that growth which will damage our own future and our economy,” he said.
The Minister made the comments as he addressed the inaugural meeting of the expanded Tourism Linkages Council yesterday at the Ministry’s New Kingston offices where he formally introduced ten new members who were specially selected to bolster the 24-member body.
He emphasized that the Ministry of Tourism is collaborating with the Ministry of National Security to add an entirely new layer of security that will ensure strict enforcement of the rule of law and help to effectively tackle the scourge of tourist harassment.
Bartlett underscored that in addition to the courtesy corps now in place, 87 District Constables who are being trained under this new initiative will graduate on July 19, 2016. These officers will function under a special arm of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, have policing powers and will focus specifically on boosting safety and security in resort areas. Another 13 officers will be added soon, to bring the initial complement to 100 by the end of the year.
“Our track record is of exponential growth in the Canadian market and we are mindful of what we must do to build out a better experience for our visitors and remove the perception that exists in relation to safety and security. Therefore, we must have strong security with a soft look but a hard hand,” said the Tourism Minister.
The new members of the expanded Tourism Linkages Council include Chairman Adam Stewart, CEO of Sandals Resort International; Omar Robinson, President, Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association; Andrene Collings, Director, MSME Office at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries; Peter Thompson, CEO, Rural Agricultural Development Authority; Christine Cohen, Owner of Spa Retreat Boutique Hotel; David Butler, CEO, Digicel; Kamal Bankay, Entertainment Consultant; Mauricio Pulido, CEO GB Energy Jamaica; Ronald McKay, President of the American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica; and Anup Chandiram, President of the Duty Free Association of Jamaica.