Some tourists opting to die in paradise, says hotelier
Chairman of the Montego Bay chapter of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Robin Russell, says there are many elderly visitors coming to Jamaica because they desire to die in the country.
“People die, people come to Jamaica to die, it is a known fact,” said Russell, who was speaking at the recent third and final public forum hosted by the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) and The University of the West Indies, Mona Western Jamaica campus in Montego Bay.
Russell says some people are alarmed when they see very old and sickly people making regular trips to Jamaica, but he said people who understand their motivation have come to realise that some would be only too happy to die in what many of them consider paradise.
“So when they (the tourist) are 80 years old, and they are sick and they are going to die ... [they say], I would like to die in Jamaica,” explained Russell, who operates a property on Jimmy Cliff Boulevard, popularly referred to as the MoBay Hip Strip.
Russell said the desire of some visitors to die in their favourite vacation destination is not unique to Jamaica, as there are other places in the region where visitors have also targeted for living out their last days.
“Some will say, I would love to die in Cancun [Mexico], or I would love to die in the Dominican Republic, I would love to lie down and look out on the ocean and die, and somebody is going to put me in a box and send me back to foreign to bury, “ noted Russell.
The JHTA‘s MoBay chapter chairman said some of the reasons people come to Jamaica to die may include the fact that they met their spouse in the country, or experienced their best vacation on the island. With a visitor return rate of 45 per cent, Jamaica is noted for having one of the highest rates of returning visitors in the world.
“It is big business, and if you ask any embassy, the US, the British or the Canadian, a lot of their work is resolving death,” explained Russell.
Citing other reasons people die when vacationing in Jamaica, Russell points out that some deaths are inadvertent, as visitors pay little attention to their health while having fun.
“Another reason why people die when they are on vacation is that they don’t listen. They are on heart medications and they go to the beach, they drink up the rum, they are parasailing, sail boating, and they have heart failure and they die,” said Russell.