St James state of emergency was unavoidable - Bartlett
Making his first public comment since the implementation of the state of emergency in St James in January of this year, Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said that the steps taken were unavoidable. Parliament recently extended the measure until August 2.
The tourism minister, who was making his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in Parliament on Tuesday, added that "every well-thinking Jamaican" and "many of our partners overseas" welcomed the initiative as a necessary step and one that will benefit the country in the long run.
"Our partners understand and will continue to support the security apparatus in their efforts to make Jamaica a safe place for all," Bartlett noted.
He argued that the most important concern for tourism globally, regionally, and locally is safety, security, and seamlessness.
"This speaks to destination assurance - a key responsibility of the Tourism Product Development Company," Bartlett added.
Bartlett said that the Caribbean had a reputation for being the safest warm- weather destination, and "we want to guard that jealously, which is why we must act proactively". He added that the Ministry of Tourism remained committed to assisting the security forces to ensure that the destination remains safe and secure.
He reiterated that through the Tourism Enhancement Fund, there was commitment of over J$1 billion to the Ministry of National Security to boost safety and security in Jamaica.
"Since the operationalisation of the enhanced security measures in St James, we have seen a dramatic drop in incidents of homicides," the tourism minister stated.
He added that Jamaica's proactive approach in explaining what was taking place on the ground mitigated what was considered a very delicate situation at the time.
"Thankfully, we were quick off the mark in immediately engaging all relevant players in the market here and overseas," Bartlett added.