A state of emergency has been declared in a region of Jamaica including the tourist area of Montego Bay following shootings and outbreaks of violence.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued updated travel advice yesterday warning that the state of emergency will run until May 13.
It covers the parish of St James – which includes Montego Bay – plus Hanover and Westmoreland in the west of Jamaica.
The Caribbean island’s government has put in place a number of Zones of Special Operations as part of security enhancement measures
These are active in Denham Town in the capital of Kingston until June 18 and Mount Salem in Montego Bay until July 8.
“Both the State of Emergency and ZOSO measures allow the military to support the police in joint security operations in response to recent violence and shooting incidents,” the FCO said.
“Security operations are ongoing and further activity including curfews could occur with little or no notice.
“You should exercise caution if you’re in the area, particularly if travelling at night, and follow the advice of the local authorities, including any restrictions.
“These may also result in road closures or travel delays, and the operating hours of some businesses may be subject to change.”
The FCO also warned of high levels of crime and violence, particularly in the capital Kingston.
In a statement, the Jamaica Tourist Board said it “would like to reassure visitors that Jamaica remains safe following the announcement by prime minister Andrew Holness of enhanced security measures to be implemented in the three western Jamaica parishes of St James, Hanover and Westmoreland.
“The action taken is a deliberate strategy on the part of the government of Jamaica to take proactive steps, at key intervals, to maintain a safe, secure and seamless experience for all law abiding citizens as well as visitors.
“This is evidenced by our strong arrivals of more than 1.7 million visitors for the first four months of 2019, which generated some US$1.2 billion in revenue for Jamaica’s tourism sector.
“The reinstatement of the enhanced security presence in the three parishes in western Jamaica will in no way serve as an impediment to residents and visitors enjoying the experiences that the country offers but will boost the destination’s record of safety and security.
“The prime minister has indicated that all members of the tourism fraternity have given their full support to the measure and reiterated that security forces will act in a way that will be a credit to the destination.”
More than 217,000 British travellers visited Jamaica in 2017, with most visits trouble-free.
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