Despite travel warnings and a rising death toll in Kingston, the capital city, tourists are still traveling to Jamaica.
Although a Jamaican vacation usually means a relaxed, care-free trip, this tourist hotspot ranks as the latest popular destination to be hit with escalating violence. More than 60 people have been reported killed in Kingston, and Norman Manley International Airport, to the south of Kingston, was forced to close earlier this week. The airport has now reopened, and tourists continue to fly into Jamaica. However, the U.S. Department of State warns citizens to avoid travel to Jamaica and the Foreign Office (FCO) is advising against all but essential travel to the capital.
Heavily armed police and soldiers clashed with defenders of Christopher “Dudus” Coke, a gang leader sought by the United States on charges of cocaine trafficking and gun-running. John Lynch, the Jamaica Tourist Board’s director of tourism, said the state of emergency was a limited one and was expected to expire in a month’s time. He added: “Travellers to the north coast of Jamaica – the main areas including Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio, Negril and the south coast are some four hours away from the area of concern. Tourist areas remain safe, and normal daily activities continue in the resort areas, and cruise port facilities.” The Jamaica Tourism Board has also updated its site with an official statement.
Travelers planning a trip to Jamaica should contact their air carriers regarding flight status. Updated information will be posted on the U.S. Embassy’s website at http://kingston.usembassy.gov and the U.S. Department of State’s travel website at www.travel.state.gov.