While pointing out that the latest level three travel advisory for Jamaica was a “routine release”, the US Embassy in Kingston defended the update, insisting that the priority of the US Department of State is the safety and security of US citizens who are traveling or residing overseas.
The travel advisory says that in Jamaica often police do not respond to reports of serious crimes and that the level of emergency medical services in inadequate, and that ambulances are not available in some rural parts of the island. Public hospitals, its says, are often inadequate, and private hospitals demand payment up front.
— US Embassy Jamaica (@USEmbassyJA) February 7, 2024
A statement shared by the embassy on Thursday said the US Department of State is obligated to provide information to US citizens travelling or residing abroad through travel advisories.
“These advisories are aimed to help people assess the risk of international travel and understand what steps to take to ensure their safety overseas,” read the statement.
It follows pronouncements by Prime Minister Andrew Holness a day earlier, as he engaged in a video call with Arnie Weissmann from Travel Weekly along with Sandals Resorts International Chairman Adam Stewart, to discuss Jamaica’s response to the travel advisory for Jamaica.
The prime minister said then that Jamaica strongly disagrees with the categorisation and highlighted the country’s achievements in fostering economic prosperity and enhancing security.
In the article, Weissmann said Holness seemed genuinely perplexed by both the content and timing of the latest travel advisory.
He highlighted that two weeks before the advisory was released, the Financial Times had written a glowing report about the island, calling it “arguably one of the most remarkable and radical but underappreciated turnaround stories in economic history.”
In its statement on Thursday afternoon, the US Embassy in Kingston said the update on January 23, 2024 was a routine release and that it provided an analytical update on the medical services.
“It was not timed with any other issue,” the US said.
It also added that the level of the US Department of State’s travel advisory did not change with the update and has remained at level 3, the same level it has been since March 2022.
“The update incorporated analysis of accidents, illnesses, and deaths of US citizens, based on a review of health services and the medical care received when US citizens are hospitalised,” the statement continued.
The US Embassy, having advised its citizens not to travel to Jamaica, added that Jamaica is and will continue to be a major tourist destination for US citizens.
“We will continue to work with the Jamaican Government and our local partners to serve the interests of the US citizens and promote the well-being of Jamaicans,” it said.
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