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Extensive crime, violence triggers travel warning for Montego Bay

Montego Bay, Jamaica — A new travel warning has been issued for Montego Bay by both the British and Canadian governments.

Both countries are warning their citizens about travel to the area after a state of emergency over violence and shootings continue to occur in the tourist hot spot.

The travel warnings came after Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, announced a state of emergency for St. James Parish on Thursday and deployed military to the area amid a rise in violent crime.

According to a government press release, “I have been advised by the security forces, in writing, that the level of criminal activity experienced, continued and threatened, is of such a nature and so extensive in scale as to endanger public safety,” Holness said.

Police Commissioner George Quallo said 335 murders were recorded in St. James last year, almost twice as many as in any other parish.

The Canadian government updated their travel advisory, saying “Exercise a high degree of caution in Jamaica due to the high level of violent crime and the state of emergency in St. James Parish.”

The UK had a similar message for Brits traveling to the area. “You should follow local advice, including restrictions in selected areas,” the Foreign Office said. “You should limit your movements outside of resorts in the area at this time, and exercise particular care if traveling at night.”

“A lot of countries have this particular advisory, and it just means to follow instructions, if there are any instructions from local authorities, and monitor local news,” says Hupalo. “Just so you’re more vigilant when things become unstable in some regions.”

Montego Bay, in St. James Parish, is a popular destination for international tourists.