Extensive crime, violence triggers travel warning for Montego Bay

Dervin 'Mixing Lab' Lee

St. James Parish, which includes the popular vacation destination, has seen an uptick in violent crime lately, leading authorities to declare a state of emergency, impose a temporary curfew and increase military presence in the area.

Around 206,000 British travellers visited Jamaica in 2016.

The travel company also said in a statement that it's waiving its usual fee to allow customers to change their reservation to an all-inclusive resort if they are now booked in a non-inclusive resort or hotel in St. James Parish.

Andrew Holness declared a state of emergency and ordered soldiers onto the streets to tackle the gunmen in St James Parish.

The FCO has said holidaymakers should limit their movements outside their resorts in the area, especially if travelling at night.

Those who venture beyond should use transportation arranged by the resort and only use organized tour operators for excursions and travel.

Holidaymakers in the north west of the island have been warned not to leave their resorts and are urged to exercise caution.

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'I have been advised by the security forces in writing that the level of criminal activity experience continued and threatened, is of such a nature and so extensive in scale as to endanger public safety'.

"You should follow local advice, including restrictions in selected areas", the Foreign Office said.

Jamaica Constabulary Force Police Commissioner George Quallo told the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) that 335 murders were recorded in St James Parish in 2017, nearly double other parishes, with "numerous gangs" operating in the area.

He said: "The declaration of a state of emergency does not mean the suspension of the rule of law".

The state of emergency gives officers additional powers, allowing them to search and detain without a warrant and shut down businesses.

Holness urged the public to cooperate with security forces, saying the operations may create some level of inconvenience.

Security minister Robert Montaque added: 'Any information you have, we need it.

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