Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point
On Air
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Saturday, January 16, 1999 Published at 06:08 GMT


World: Americas

Jamaica's soldiers hit the beaches

Tourism is worth $1bn a year to Jamaica

Soldiers are to be deployed in tourist resorts in Jamaica to try to reduce violent crime and the harassment of visitors.

The Tourism minister, Francis Tulloch, said the move had been recommended by the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association.

He said: "In the past the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association has expressed reservations on the use of the military. However they have now made this recommendation and we will be acting upon it immediately."

Troops could be sent in as early as next week.

Mr Tulloch called the deployment "a giant step against crime in tourist resorts".

Tourism is Jamaica's leading industry, worth about $1bn each year. About 1.5 million people visited the island last year.

Violent reputation

The opposition has condemned the measure as harmful to Jamaica's image. A police spokesman said that crimes involving tourists had fallen dramatically in the past six years. But the island still has a reputation for violent crime.

In December, 14 German tourists on a tour bus were held up and robbed on the way to the Mountain Valley attraction near Montego Bay, the main tourist city on the northwest coast of Jamaica.

In a separate attack, 18 German tourists were robbed on a Jamaican tour bus on 25 November near Port Maria on the north coast.

Military turn-off

But the parliamentary opposition slammed the plan to deploy troops. "People will not want to come to a country that is being patrolled by the military," said opposition spokesman on security Derrick Smith.

He added that the military should only be deployed to deal with civil unrest. Their training might also lead them to mishandle situations.

But police commissioner Francis Forbes said that public perceptions of rising crime against tourists did not match the facts.

He told tourist industry leaders on Thursday that there were less than 200 incidents involving tourists in 1998, down from the 612 crimes against visitors reported in 1992.

The high-profile incidents such as the bus hold-ups distorted the true picture, Mr Forbes said.

'Desperation'


Robert Perkins: "Everybody is worried"
But talk show host Robert Perkins told the BBC that everybody in Jamaica was worried about the number of criminal incidents.

He said in deploying troops in tourist areas, it appeared that the government was resorting to a "measure of desperation".

Military police patrols have been operating in various parts of the island for some time, Mr Perkins said, but their presence had not helped diminish levels of crime.

Despite the problems Jamaica had a 3% growth in visitor arrivals during 1998.



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©




Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia



Relevant Stories

26 Sep 98 | Americas
Jamaica steps up security





Internet Links


Jamaica Information Service

Jamaica Tourist Board

Jamaica Defence Force


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

From Business
Microsoft trial mediator appointed

Safety chief deplores crash speculation

From Entertainment
Taxman scoops a million

Violence greets Clinton visit

Bush outlines foreign policy

Boy held after US school shooting

Memorial for bonfire dead

Senate passes US budget

New constitution for Venezuela

North Korea expels US 'spy'

Hurricane Lenny abates

UN welcomes US paying dues

Chavez praises 'advanced' constitution

In pictures: Castro strikes out Chavez

WTO: arbitration in EU-Ecuador banana dispute

Colombian army chief says rebels defeated

Colombian president lambasts rebels