Jamaica extends 'state of emergency' travel warning in popular tourist destinations

Elisabetta Bianchini
People enjoy a catamaran boat tour at Doctor's Cave Beach in Montego Bay Jamaica on a cloudy day. (Getty Images)
People enjoy a catamaran boat tour at Doctor's Cave Beach in Montego Bay Jamaica on a cloudy day. (Getty Images)

Canadians planning to visit Jamaica this year may want to rethink their travel plans as the country’s government has extended its “state of emergency” advisory until Oct. 28.

The warning states that the increase in violent crime in the areas of St. James parish, including Montego Bay, Hanover parish and Westmoreland parish, including Negril, led to the extended emergency status.

The Jamaican government has also implemented a “state of emergency” designation for St. Andrew parish, which includes the Kingston area, until Oct. 5.

“During this period, security forces have been given increased rights to conduct searches, seizures, and detain persons of interest. Curfews may also be imposed without notice,” the notice states.

For those who are still planning to visit these areas, it is recommended that travellers carry valid ID at all times, avoid going outside of resort areas after dark and walk around in groups, cooperate with local authorities and monitor local news to stay up-to-date on how the situation evolves.

Tourists should also avoid taking public transit and unmarked taxis, and should be particularly cautious when paying with a credit card or using an ATM.

“Violent crime, including armed robbery and murder, is a problem in large cities despite the presence of police to counter criminal activity,” the advisory states. “Police may impose curfews with short notice in areas where gang activity is a concern.”

Last year a Winnipeg couple, Melbourne Flake, 81, and Etta Flake, 70, were killed in Jamaica. They were found dead in their vacation home in St. Thomas.

The Canadian government indicates that individuals in Jamaica should “exercise a high degree of caution,” due to the amount of violent crime, but has not asked Canadians to avoid travel to the country. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians visit Jamaica each year, with an estimated 300,000 person Jamaican community present in Canada.