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This Is Why Americans Continue To Visit Jamaica Despite Recent Crime Surge

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Despite the latest political instability and surging crime rates, which have led the Government to instate a State of Emergency, Jamaica continues to break tourism records, and it is now on track to attain an 11 percent growth in 2023. Seeing that the U.S. is the strongest market for foreign visitors, we can infer Americans are not particularly worried about security risks vacationing on the island — but why?

Crystal Clear Beach In Jamaica, Caribbean Sea

How Bad Is The Situation In Jamaica Right Now?

In recent months, Jamaica has been rocked to its core by a mass wave of violence fueled by an increase in gang activity, especially in areas where police presence is limited and the establishment of paramilitary groups could not be curbed. Instability is so high that in late 2022, Prime Minister Andrew Holness declared a State of Emergency (SOE) in nine out of 14 parishes.

That is roughly 64% of the country, and even touristy spots like Saint James, where the popular resort town of Montego Bay is located, were not spared. What's more worrying is that the extreme measure, which leads to a rise in police raids and subsequently intercommunity violence, had been enforced by Holness before — a number of times.

A Stone Fort Facing The Sea In Jamaica, Caribbean Ocean

The latest SOE was, in fact, merely an extension of an already-existing one, proving Jamaica has been facing social disorder for months on end. As the Chairman of the Jamaica Education Transformation Commission reminded attendees at one of his lectures, Jamaica has both the highest rates of homicide and genocide in the world.

While in the latter case, he's referred specifically to Jamaica's gruesome past of slavery, the data on homicide is current and pretty alarming. Between 2019 and 2021, it topped the regional murder charts in the Caribbean, and despite a slight improvement in safety in 2022, the number of killings was still impossibly high.

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A Bird Flying Towards A Harbor Where Colorful Boats Are Docked In Jamaica, Caribbean Sea

In total, 1,498 murders were recorded, putting Jamaica's homicide rate at approximately 53 per 100,000, the highest since 2017. As InsightCrime reports, the SEOs have done little to reverse the trend. So how come crime-stricken Jamaica has rebounded so strongly, and why are very few Americans actually concerned about the latest developments?

Most Visits Are Trouble-Free

The answer lies in Jamaica's well-developed, and dare we say, heavily protected leisure complexes. Modern-day versions of fortified castles, these structures are what we like to call cities within a city. They present guests with an entirely different reality than that on the ground, from ultra-luxurious amenities to exclusive beach access.

Young Woman Lying On A Sandy Beach In The Caribbean As She Reads A Book, Relaxation Time, Wellness

The vast majority of Americans traveling to Jamaica seek one thing, and one thing only: a do-nothing vacation in a coastal paradise — preferably all-inclusive. They have little, if any, interest in exploring off-path areas of Jamaica where civil war is rampant. Jamaica is, after all, primarily a beach destination, and incidents taking place inside resorts are rare.

Jamaicans And Tourists Walking Down A Busy Shopping Street In Falmouth, Jamaica

The world-class service offered at Jamaica's upscale hotels, particularly in Montego Bay, is also part of the reason why it is still a leader in bookings, with famous resorts like the Half Moon, Secrets St. James, Deja, and the Sandals Royal Caribbean being acknowledged for their impressive list of amenities and even architecture.

On top of that, Jamaica is one of the most highly sought-after Caribbean nations, home to stunning nature, comprising lush green hills, tropical jungles and a sandy coastline, and turquoise waters, making it a hotspot for sun-seekers. In recent years, cultural tourism in Jamaica has increased as well due to its colonial architecture and History under British imperialism.

Panoramic View Of Kingston, Jamaica

Lastly, the country has lifted all of its COVID entry requirements after two and a half years of enforcing strict health checks at the border, allowing American tourists in irrespective of vaccination status and without any further documentation. The increased seat capacity and low-cost flight options have contributed to a surge in demand, too.

With that being said, Jamaica's strongest offer is its beachfront resorts, and it excels at being a wellness center. Projections point to a record increase in tourism in 2023, as the island's primary markets, namely the U.S. and Canada, register growths of 7% and 38.7%, respectively. There is now a ‘high possibility' of a full recovery a year earlier than expected.

Aerial View Of Development Zone In Montego Bay, Jamaica With The Caribbean Sea In The Background

Seeing that tourists in Jamaica are almost exclusively hoping to catch a tan while relaxing at an exclusive beach, most visits are trouble-free. That's not to say risks are non-existent, taking into account a British man was gunned down in the villa he rented close to Montego Bay earlier this year, but these unfortunate events are the exception rather than the rule and are often a result of ‘contract killings‘.

What Is The Official Travel Advice?

Jamaica is a Level 3 destination.

Young Male Kayaking Down A River In Jamaica

Officially, Americans should ‘reconsider travel' to Jamaica due to the high prevalence of urban violence, at least according to the U.S. Department of State, but unless involved with organized crime or staying outside resort complexes in non-touristy areas, they should have nothing to worry about, which is why Jamaica's popularity remains at an all-time high in 2023.

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Saturday 12th of August 2023

I travel back and forth to Jamaica frequently . It seems that the media advertises these crime scenarios as a way to make people stay on resorts purposely to spend their money . People need to realize that your traveling to a place full of warmth ( the people that is ) and very helpful people , the majority that is . Depending on what you choose to do is what you will attract being a foreigner , just stay away from the criminal activities and late after hours and moving around the country during normal hours , you will not encounter any problems Why travel all the way to such a beautiful country and not see it ? Be safe in your movements and and get to know locals that will help you get around safely . As small as Jamaica’s Island is , there is so much to see and do during your vacation here rather than stay behind the compound of your resorts .


Friday 10th of February 2023

Homophobic and misogynist country. People don't realize how dangerous this country actually is outside of their Sandals resorts.


Friday 11th of August 2023

@Liaka, to be fair the Middle East and Africa remain far more violent than the west. Haiti and Venezuela are the two in the Americas that would rank really badly in those regions (albeit not top). The rest, even Honduras or Mexico, would be pretty much lost in the mix where you wouldn't really notice them.

Venezuela is somewhat unfortunate because many Colombian criminals and armed groups who have been displaced by paramilitaries live and operate there and not in Colombia. Conversely, many comparatively law-abiding and less bellicose (but still violent) Venezuelan crooks live in Colombia.

The two countries for complex reasons have basically swapped a significant % of each others' criminals.

And you're right, Jamaica isn't that bad at all.


Friday 11th of August 2023

@Bbailey, it's not even that violent.


Friday 11th of August 2023

@Dee, one of the most overrated countries worldwide for violence.

It's so unimpressive.


Sunday 6th of August 2023

@Bbailey, I agree. The west is rife with problems. We have people shooting up schools for godsake. No one from a western country is in any position to thumb their nose at Jamaica. Unless you’re from some peaceful, isolated village, chill out.


Tuesday 21st of March 2023

@Dee,then stay in your own country they don't need you here