KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Jamaica's tourism leaders said there had been
no flight cancellations into or out of Kingston and hotels were
operating normally in the capital and throughout the island,
despite violent confrontations here between security forces and
residents of a west Kingston neighborhood.
Jamaica's prime minister P.J. Patterson on Monday deployed the
army in the capital in an attempt to quell three days of violence
that flared after police raided the Kingston neighborhood in search
of illegal weapons.
The police action triggered gun battles between security forces
and neighborhood residents that left at least 23 people dead and
dozens more injured.
The violence has not spread to the major tourist destinations of
Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Negril, but tourism officials are
nonetheless concerned that the unrest will hurt Jamaica's $1.3
billion tourism industry.
"We have not received any hotel cancellations associated with
this flare-up," said Josef Forstmayr, president of the Jamaica
Hotel and Tourist Association. "We do expect, however, that the
negative publicity will alter someone's mind against coming here,
and that is why we are taking precautions," he said.
Fay Pickersgill, director of tourism for the Jamaica Tourist
Board, said the organization will lobby the government for more
money to launch a "very strong promotional program" encouraging
potential visitors to come to Jamaica.
In particular, she said the board will ask for emergency funds
to run its popular "One Love" television spots, which are now off
the air until the fall.
"All the major resort areas on Jamaica's north and south coasts
remain very calm, with local people and visitors going about their
daily lives. Movement in the resort areas is totally unrestricted,"
In response to the unrest, the State Department issued a Public
Announcement warning U.S. citizens to exercise caution in
The Department warned of transportation disruptions and road
blocks throughout the capital, including the primary route to
Norman Manley airport.
The Department stated that there have been "no reports of
violence in the rest of the country."