Jamaican hotelier and President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Nicola Madden-Greig, says the United States’ level three travel advisory for Jamaica has had a minimal impact on the island’s tourism sector.
In fact, the tourism official has stated that industry partners see the island as a safe travel destination.
“…While this warning is there and exists, it has not significantly impacted our trip arrival numbers,” Madden-Greig explained.
But the CHTA president, who spoke on the state of the Caribbean travel industry at a recent virtual meeting of the Rotary Club of Mona, St. Andrew, said the country needs to step up its efforts, although the impact of the alert on the sector is minimal to fight crime.
While this is being done by those in charge, she explained that the country needs to do more to “sell” or promote its positive aspects.
In the latest travel advisory, updated on Wednesday October 5, US citizens have been warned not to travel to Clarendon, Hanover, Kingston and St. Andrew, all of Montego Bay, St. Ann, St. Catherine, St .James and Westmoreland to travel.
According to the US State Department, violent crimes such as home burglaries, armed robberies, sexual assaults and homicides are commonplace in Jamaica.
Although Jamaica’s travel advisory has been in place for years, Madden-Greig stressed that the island’s tourism partners recognize the country is a very safe destination for visitors.
“We’ve had this travel advisory and have been at level three or level four for various reasons over the years. During the pandemic, we were at the highest level and visitors were still coming in record numbers,” she said.
“So it (the travel advisory) can put a dampener on potential visitors, but in general Jamaica has been very good at communicating to the market exactly what’s happening locally.
“Fortunately, the situations that are happening in Jamaica right now, which are really quite sad right now, don’t necessarily impact the visitor and that’s the reputation we have in the visitor market and in the travel and tourism industry,” the experienced hotelier specified.
“…Our partners see Jamaica as a safe destination,” Madden-Greig said.
But she said the country needs to address the problem of crime and promote its positive traits.
“Obviously we should not tolerate the type of crime that we have in Jamaica. It needs to be addressed because as a small island nation, we shouldn’t have these challenges,” Madden-Greig said.
“…But sometimes we also have to be a bit careful about what we communicate, and it’s important that while we have to solve a problem, we don’t contribute to the problem at the same time,” she warned.
The tourism official added: “So we need to sell our positive stuff (and) we need to make sure we continue to provide employment to our many nationals.
“Yes, some of the news that’s coming out isn’t good, but at the same time we have to work towards a resolution while also making sure our industry is doing well.”
Madden-Greig also suggested that it is the responsibility of all Jamaicans to “act for lasting change” regarding the crime situation locally.