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WE MUST GET IT RIGHT

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Montego Bay, St James (February 8, 2021). Woman shot in church while worshipping. 87 year old grandmother shot dead in Kingston. A little four year old shot to death in Trelawny due to a family dispute. All these fell crimes committed in a little country with a population of just about 3 million people. Lives lost daily due to the horrific disease of crime. Crime has a devastating impact on the families that are directly impacted, but by extension on the country as a whole. Crime impacts the country’s tourism product and leaves tourists frightened and scared to visit Jamaica. 

In an article in 2018, tourists from the United States of America were warned not to visit Jamaica, because of how dangerous it was and if they came, they were encouraged to stay within the confines of their hotels. 

This cripples the industry as many industries that are linked to tourists coming and exploring Jamaica will be directly impacted and impeded. Tourists who are adventurous and like to walk on the streets and interact with citizens who sell craft items or fruits will be scared to complete these activities as they believe they might be robbed or may be preyed upon. This causes the local citizens to lose funds as tourists stay within the walls of the hotels and make purchases through gift shops which shortens the value chain and reduces the income local artisans earn.

Other tourist attractions are also impacted as instead of utilizing outside tours, they utilize the activities that are established by the hotel. The original marketing tag line from My Jamaica Travel  had a warm appeal to lure visitors - “ Feel it, Taste It and Explore Jamaica.” There has been a paradigm shift in how visitors will experience our Paradise and it falls woefully short of the open invitation above.

Jamaica makes more than half its yearly Gross Domestic Product from Tourism, and therefore we cannot allow crime and violence to stain the beautiful country, that is known for its sand, sea and sun, mineral springs, birding, exotic plants and warm people. Measures must be implemented by the government and enforced by citizens to contain this deadly disease. 

One such recommendation is to establish social mechanisms that are able to reform youth who have dropped out of school. These programs will teach them skills and values and provide them with the necessary tools to be integrated into the society and also earn meaningful employment through the skills they have been taught. These reformative measures will seek to take unoccupied and unemployed youth off the streets and provide better opportunities for them to become useful members of society. 

Another recommendation goes directly to citizens. The culture of ‘cover up’ that has prevailed for decades in our society must be thoroughly eradicated. Residents must be encouraged to divulge information to the police that can help to solve crime. Residents must come forth with relevant information so that law enforcement can successfully carry out their roles. 

Crime and violence is a scourge that is affecting leisure tourism unlike nature adventure tourism and community tourism.  It must be contained to prevent ruin of  the tourism product in our beautiful island. We must put measures in place and try to contain this evil disease, so it does not stain our beautiful island of Jamaica. 

 

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