Street violence in Jamaica over the planned extradition of a gang leader to the U.S. could deter tourists as well as harm the economic recovery, the head of Jamaica’s Chamber of Commerce has warned.
Milton Samuda, president of Jamaica’s Chamber of Commerce, said the situation in the capital Kingston remains “tense” after Prime Minister Bruce Golding declared a one-month state of emergency yesterday in response to the violence.
“I think the obvious first implication is for tourism,” Samuda told Bloomberg. “This obviously doesn’t help the business climate and it could affect potential investors.”
Two police officers were killed yesterday after supporters of Christopher “Dudus”
Coke set up roadblocks in the capital to prevent his arrest. Police and soldiers came under heavy fire again today, according to The Associated Press.
Coke is accused by the U.S. government of leading an international crime syndicate known as the “Shower Posse”.
The U.S. State Department has warned travellers civil unrest in Kingston could block access to the international airport.
Air Jamaica yesterday cancelled three flights between Jamaica and the U.S. “to protect our customers and staff who would arrive at night,” but resumed flights this morning.
Jamaica’s tourism industry has been riding the quest of a wave. This year’s booking have been strong. Year-to-date hotel occupancy to the end of April was 71 percent, up from 67 percent year-on-year, according to Smith Travel Research Inc.
Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) President Wayne Cummings warned that with the international attention that Jamaica has been receiving would inevitably hit the number of tourist arrivals.
He said several travellers who were scheduled to arrive have not turned up while others have begun cancelling their trip.
Some hotels are still running high occupancies while others are doing relatively well but the JHTA President is unable to quantify the level of cancellations so far.
He emphasized that the situation being as it is, the country should allow the security forces to do their jobs without loss of innocent lives.
He added that the JHTA and Jamaica Tourist Board have been liaising with the travel industry to keep them abreast of the situation in Jamaica. He continued to assure the industry that Jamaica remains open for business and there is no immediate threat to visitors.