Jamaica is a hot spot for Canadian vacationers but if you're heading there soon, you may want to be careful. Just last night, the Canadian government issued a new travel advisory for Jamaica after a State of Emergency was declared. The declaration comes after a rise of violent crime in the area.
The State of Emergency specifically covers the parish of St. James which includes Montego Bay, one of the most popular Jamaican resort towns. According to the travel warning from the government, the Jamaican military will be conducting operations in Montego Bay and the other affected areas in an attempt to combat the gang violence there.
They don't go into detail about what these operations could include but warn Canadians who are travelling into the affected areas to be extremely vigilant. They advise Canadians not to leave the resort if possible, and to only use transportation organized through the resort/travel company to get to and from the airport.
According to the government, attacks on tourists aren't common but there are still risks. In Montego Bay specifically, they have even more warnings for Canadians. They say not to walk alone, even during the day, avoid visiting beaches and other isolated areas at night, and not to take the bus at night.
These warnings are extremely important, given the number of Canadian tourists who head to Jamaica every year. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians vacation there annually.
This also isn't the first time an advisory like this has been issued. In fact, almost a year ago today, Canadians were also warned about violent crimes in Montego Bay while the military put the entire area on lock-down. Back then, the advisory also cautioned about leaving the resort.
Among the newly updated advisory for the Montego Bay area, the Canadian Government also warns travellers about other risks in Jamaica including petty theft and sexual assault, which can both happen on the resorts as well.
The government says that the safest place to stay in Jamaica is any resort that is compounded with gates or walls and well guarded by security. They warn travellers to be especially careful when staying at small or isolated establishments.
The current advisory level for Canadians travelling to Jamaica is to exercise a high degree of caution. This is the highest level short of avoiding travel to the area.