Travel advisory: Canadians warned of ‘state of emergency’ in Jamaica

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Jamaica travel advisory
montego bay / Shutterstock

The Government of Canada has issued a Jamaica travel advisory after a state of emergency was declared in the country.

The state of emergency is in effect in the parish of St. James, which includes the popular capital city, Montego Bay.

The Government of Jamaica declared the state of emergency in an effort to counter criminal activity in the area. As such, Canadians are warned to exercise a high degree of caution in the country due to high levels of violent crime.

A ‘high degree of caution’ is issued when there, “are identifiable safety and security concerns or the safety and security situation could change with little notice.” As such, tourists must exercise a high degree of caution at all times, as well as monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities.

The advisory states that, “violent crime, including armed robbery and murder, is a problem in large cities despite the presence of police to counter criminal activity. The availability of firearms is widespread, and most violent drug- and gang-related crimes, especially murder, involve firearms. There is a risk of becoming the victim of crossfire in these areas.”

If you are staying at a resort in an affected area, you are advised to restrict your movements beyond resort security perimeters.

If you want to travel outside these perimeters, then you are advised to use transportation arranged or provided by the resort. Likewise, you should use organized tour operators for excursions and travel to and from the airport.

What’s more, police may impose curfews with short notice in areas where gang activity is a concern. The following areas have a significant gang population and high incidences of violent crime:

Greater Kingston
  • Arnett Gardens
  • August Town
  • Cassava Piece
  • Central Village in Spanish Town
  • Denham Town
  • Grant’s Pen
  • Hannah Town
  • Harbour View
  • Mountain View
  • Olympic Gardens
  • Payneland
  • Portmore
  • Tivoli Gardens
  • Trench Town
  • West Kingston
  • Whitfield Town
Montego Bay
  • Canterbury
  • Flankers
  • Hart Street
  • Mount Salem
  • Norwood Gardens
  • Rose Heights
  • St. Clavers Avenue

Reports of violence perpetrated against tourists are actually very low, however, but you should:

  • maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times, particularly at night
  • follow the advice of local authorities
  • monitor local media
  • not walk alone even during the day
  • go out in groups with people that you know
  • avoid visiting beaches and isolated areas at night
  • not use buses at night
  • not resist if you are a victim of crime, as resistance may provoke the use of violence

In addition, petty crime, such as pick-pocketing and bag snatching, is also common in tourist areas. As such, it is recommended that you don’t flaunt your wealth, keep modest amounts of cash on you, ensure that your belongings are secure, and lock up your valuables at night.

Similarly, you should be wary of strangers, watch your drink at all times, and refrain from excessive drinking at all-inclusive resorts. There have been alleged sexual assaults by staff at these resorts.

The Government of Canada also recently warned travellers that they should avoid all ‘non-essential travel’ to parts of Mexico.

In addition, it has determined that travellers ought to exercise a high degree of caution in China. And, while it isn’t advising residents avoid travel to the country altogether, it has identified safety and security concerns.