Jamaica Tourism, Travel

Jamaica Tourism Industry Increasing Despite U.S. Travel Advisory

In February, the US State Department issued a Level 3 travel advisory against Jamaica.

The Paramount Pictures film “Bob Marley: One Love,” starring Kingsley Ben-Adir in the starring role, is projected to help boost tourism in Jamaica in 2024, following its increased tourism numbers in 2023. 

As Travel Weekly reports, Donovan White, the Jamaica Tourist Board’s director of Tourism, indicated in February that 2023 tourism numbers were expected to see an 18% increase over 2019 figures. The country is projected to have earned $4.3 billion and had approximately 4.1 million visitors to the island, not including cruise ship passengers, in 2023. 

Jamaica is also adding thousands of hotel rooms and service flights from the United States to Jamaica. White told Travel Agent Central, “With a 42 percent repeat visitor rate overall complementing our remarkable visitor arrivals growth, we are confident that 2024 will be yet another record-breaking year. In addition, we continue to add new airlift from key gateways and will have several new hotels opening throughout the year to support our tourism growth trajectory.”

In 2022, Jamaica added 8,000 hotel rooms, pouring in $2 billion and creating jobs for 24,000 hotel workers, including full- and part-time employees. In addition, the expansion of the hotel industry led to the creation of 12,000 jobs for construction workers. White recently indicated that 15,000 hotel rooms are anticipated to open in Jamaica over the next five to seven years. Of that total, in 2024, over 2,000 rooms are expected to be added across four properties. 

In 2022, Jamaica’s Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said in an official statement: “We are delighted with the developments in the local tourism industry, which will undoubtedly have a positive effect on the economy and directly benefit thousands of Jamaicans. Indeed, tourism is a supply chain industry that spans multiple economic sectors, including construction, agriculture, manufacturing, banking, and transportation.”

The tourism numbers and the numbers from its hospitality industry are encouraging for the island nation, despite the US State Department issuing a Level 3 travel advisory. As NPR reported, a Level 3 advisory is the second-highest alert level. The State Department cautioned, “Violent crimes, such as home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides, are common. Sexual assaults occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts.”

The travel advisory continued, “Local police often do not respond effectively to serious criminal incidents. When arrests are made, cases are infrequently prosecuted to a conclusive sentence. Families of U.S. citizens killed in accidents or homicides frequently wait a year or more for final death certificates to be issued by Jamaican authorities.”

The Jamaica Tourist Board responded with a statement to NPR, “[T]here are very distinctly defined areas within Jamaica that the advisory cites as having high risk for crime, so the majority of the island’s tourism product remains unaffected. Overall, the crime rate against visitors to Jamaica remains extremely low at 0.01%.”

The board continued, “The island consistently ranks among the top destinations for international travel, welcoming 4.1 million visitors in 2023, with approximately 3 million from the United States. Visitors can continue to come with confidence to enjoy all that Jamaica has to offer.”

Bartlett told Travel Agent Central that the country was experiencing spectacular growth. “Jamaica continues to break records in terms of tourism arrivals in a spectacular pattern of growth,” Bartlett said. “It is deeply gratifying to remain a top destination of choice among travelers internationally as well as from our primary source market, the U.S., and maintain our position as one of the world’s leading tourism destinations. Based on arrival figures to date, we fully expect to post an 11th consecutive quarter of significant expansion.”

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