Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Audrey Marks, has voiced her concerns over the US State Department’s travel advisory for Jamaica.
Marks has called for the Consular Affairs Bureau to either rescind or modify the advisory, citing its failure to portray an accurate representation of the island’s overall situation.
The US State Department has categorized Jamaica as a Level 3 destination, prompting Marks to urge all stakeholders, particularly those in the Caribbean Diaspora, to engage in efforts aimed at persuading the department to reconsider the advisory’s content.
Marks emphasizes that Jamaica stands apart from other Level 3-designated regions, as it is a democratic nation without involvement in armed conflicts with neighboring countries or any civil unrest.
Furthermore, the island has not experienced military coups, terrorist attacks, international piracy, bombings, or random mass shootings—the kinds of incidents often associated with Level 3 advisories.
Marks points out the unusually negative language used in the advisory, highlighting the potential far-reaching, unprecedented damage to Jamaica’s economy caused by extensive media coverage both in the United States and internationally.
Jamaica’s tourist industry, a vital pillar of the nation’s economy, faces potential harm due to the travel advisory.
Marks underscores the industry’s significance, contributing 30 per cent of the country’s GDP, 50 per cent of foreign exchange earnings (US$4 billion), and employing 20 per cent of the workforce (350,000).
The Jamaican government officially rejects the travel advisory’s content, claiming it distorts the realities within Jamaica.
The government has formally communicated its position to the US Government, highlighting the extensive potential negative impact on Jamaica’s economy and the urgent need for revision.
Marks challenges the description of crime and healthcare in Jamaica provided by the advisory, asserting that serious crimes against tourists are exceedingly rare on the island.
She added that the data reveals that American tourists are statistically safer in Jamaica than in many US cities.
Highlighting Jamaica’s efforts to combat crime, Marks reveals that the country recorded its lowest level of crime in 22 years last year.
She also addresses Jamaica’s healthcare system, acknowledging that it may not be fully resourced but operates at international benchmarks and is internationally recognized for its competent healthcare providers.
Marks asserts that Jamaica, despite challenges, remains a safe and appealing destination for tourists, emphasizing the need for a more balanced perspective in the US travel advisory.
She encourages collaboration and dialogue between the two nations to address concerns and foster a mutually beneficial relationship.
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