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Gun fire attacks put a hold on record number Jamaica holidays

  • 07-Jun-10 17:03
  • Jamaica
  • Daily Finances Travel

The number of travellers taking Jamaica holidays recently has declined significantly as airlines are avoiding landing after dark after a four-day gun battle erupted two weeks ago in Kingston's Tivoli Gardens where dozens of people were killed.

Gun fire attacks put a hold on record number Jamaica holidays

A four-day gun battle in Kingston's Tivoli Gardens two weeks ago has significantly impacted travel and tourism in Jamaica as travellers are putting their Jamaica holidays on hold after dozens of people were killed in the attack. The stunning Caribbean island had been recently celebrating record numbers of tourists with over 500,000 visitors enjoying holidays in Jamaica during the first quarter of 2010, a 9.2 percent increase on the same time last year.

The violence erupted on 24 May 2010 after supporters of a reported drug lord, Christopher "Dudus" Coke exchanged gunfire with the security forces after hearing that they were trying to extradite "Dudus" to the U.S where he would face drugs and weapons trafficking charges. Local police stations were targeted but 26 civilians and one service man were killed in the gunfire.

The U.S State Department has issued an advisory on travel to Jamaica and are urging Americans not to take Jamaica holidays and to defer any non-essential travel to the island until things have quietened down. Jamaica hotels and resorts are suffering from the decrease in visitors and many restaurants, nightclubs and businesses have been closing early.

A cashier from the Red Bones Blues Cafe in Kingston said that there are fewer diners and many music acts have cancelled. She said: "It's slowed down. We are not seeing the amount of guests who usually come."

The impact of the attacks have now spread to regions outside of Kingston but the Jamaican Minister of Information, Daryl Haz, has been trying to assure tourists that the resort areas outside of Kingston have been unaffected by the riots.

"This is a situation that is taking place in certain parts of Kingston in downtown. It is approximately anywhere from 100 to 140 miles from our resort areas," Haz said.

However, despite these claims, many travellers are postponing or cancelling their Jamaica holidays because they are too scared to travel through Kingston suburbs to get to their resorts. The Ministry of Tourism will be spending $10 million on an advertising campaign to reassure travellers that Jamaica's mountains and beaches are safe and open for business as usual.

The chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board, John Lynch, said: "We've gone through hurricanes, and this is as bad as a hurricane. But Jamaicans are the best salespeople. And you know the old saying, seeing is believing."

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