KINGSTON, Jamaica, January 12, 2018 (CMC) – Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith says Jamaica’s status has not changed, despite a recent travel advisory issued by the United States.
According to Johnson Smith in a government statement, “Jamaica has, for some time, been the subject of travel advisories issued by the United States and the nature of such advisories have remained largely the same, in so far as the US State Department is concerned.”
On Wednesday, the US Embassy, here, said the US State Department has introduced a new, tiered system, ranging from one to four.
Under the new system, Jamaica has been classified at level two.
The level two advisory warns American citizens, including those living here, to avoid sections of the cities of Montego Bay and Kingston, and not to venture anywhere in the old capital of Spanish Town, in the central parish of St. Catherine.
The advisory said violent crime, such as home invasions, armed robberies, and homicides, are common, adding that sexual assaults occur, frequently, and local police lacked the resources to respond, effectively, to serious incidents.
“To give greater context, we understand that the category in which we remain, is the same as that of the UK, France and Germany,” the Foreign Affairs Minister said.
She added that the Jamaican government is working, assiduously, to ensure that Jamaica is a state, “where not only its citizens are safe, and feel safe, but that visitors from the US and other countries can feel safe and welcome, at all times”.
Meanwhile players in the tourism industry have voiced concern about the advisory.
In an interview with the Jamaica Gleaner, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Omar Robinson, said the association, while concerned about the safety of visitors, is more worried about the safety of the workers in the industry.
“Crime against visitors is very low, but many of our staff, who are living in the volatile communities, are faced with this untenable situation,” he added.
Robinson told the Gleaner that several employees go to work with a high level of fear.
The JHTA head also reiterated a call for a meeting to be held — including the JHTA, the government and the Opposition — to bring together a holistic approach to crime.
He also blamed the breakdown of basic law and order as one of the major contributing factors affecting the country, stating that tangible methods must be found to deal with the current situation and there must be greater accountability.
He said a level three advisory would be devastating to the tourism industry.