JAMAICA – Official's downplay possible fallout from State of Emergency

(CNS) -An official in the local tourism industry is downplaying concerns about a possible fallout in the sector in light of the declaration of a State of Emergency in St. James.

Godfrey Dyer, Chairman of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), is expecting that it will be business as usual.

Some members of the public, as well as representatives of the private sector in St. James, have warned of negative repercussions for the tourism industry following the Prime Minister’s declaration of a State of Emergency on Thursday.

But Mr. Dyer believes tourists will continue to visit St. James during the period. He reasoned that the majority of visitors to the island in the next two months would have already booked their stay in all-inclusive hotels “so they would not be exposed to anything (and) probably won’t even know that there’s a state of emergency.”

“So I do not expect any serious fallout, and especially if we can see some positive results over the next three-four weeks where the crime rate starts dropping in St. James, it could turn out to be a positive,” he argued.

Furthermore, Mr. Dyer expressed confidence that the Jamaica Tourist Board would be working on mechanisms to address any concerns that tourists might have about the State of Emergency.

In the meantime, at least one member of the commercial sector in St. James has responded negatively to the reduction in business hours in the parish which was announced on Friday by the Police High Command.

The High Command announced the changes in the wake of Thursday’s declaration of a State of Emergency.

Gerald Chambers, Sales and Marketing Manager at Burbank Vacations in Montego Bay, said the changes in the business hours will affect his company. He said he is already losing business.

“Right now, it’s behaving like it’s off-peak season but it’s actually peak season. So if they can just hurry up and do whatever they do and resolve the problem, it would be better for us because you know this is the tourism capital, so this situation will definitely affect us in a very negative way,” he declared.

Under the State of Public Emergency, the security forces have been given extraordinary powers which also allow for the suspension of some rights.

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