A state of public emergency in St. James Parish of Jamaica, which includes Montego Bay, has again been extended to May 2.

The emergency order, which set in place enhanced security measures for residents and visitors due to a wave of gang-related criminal activities, was first issued on Jan. 18 by Prime Minister Andrew Holness and was to run for two weeks. It was later extended to early April.

"It was not anticipated that all would be accomplished in 14 days," Holness said, in announcing the extension.

The order allows the military to support the police in joint security operations.

In a briefing during the Caribbean Travel Marketplace in San Juan last week, Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said that most of the violence and shootings occurred in the inner city of Montego Bay and did not impact the tourism areas.

"Jamaica acted preemptively by declaring a state of public emergency to avoid further problems. Enough is enough. The current crime wave does damage to a visitor's perception of Jamaica. The order is a tool to cauterize and protect the destination to assure a safe, secure and seamless situation for all involved," Bartlett said.

The minister reported no impact on bookings or cancellations.

"It's business as usual. The tourists are here on our beaches, in our resorts and at our attractions. In fact, our arrival numbers were up 13.5% last week and were up 6.7% for all of January," he said.


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