Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
A 14 per cent increase in murders and waves from the west Kingston disturbance that negatively impacted the tourism sector made 2010 a difficult year for St Ann.
Forty murders were recorded between the start of January and December 26, as against 35 for the corresponding period in 2009, according to Superintendent of Police, Gary Griffiths.
There was a slight decrease in shootings, down from 34 to 32, but sexual offences (rape and carnal abuse) remained stable at 42 and 21, respectively. The 148 cases of robbery represented a decrease of 13.
Break-ins were up, 395 as against 341 the previous year. The figure meant that, on average, at least one break-in occurred in the parish every day.
"The break-ins were mostly in the Ocho Rios and St Ann's Bay police areas. In the Runaway Bay area, there was a slight reduction," Griffiths told The Gleaner.
Economically, the parish took a hit as tourism did not perform as anticipated and several motels continued to discount their rates quite heavily as the recession in the United States impacted on the industry.
"It's been a challenging year," St Ann Chamber of Commerce President Kumar Sujanani summed up. "From a tourism standpoint, and remembering that tourism impacts substantially on other businesses, the first quarter was reasonable. From the second quarter on, it was extremely difficult with several factors influencing low tourism results."
Said Sujanani: "The United States, our main tourism market, is still in recession, in my view, and while we've diversified, with especially Canada and also Europe, they are not high spenders and coupled with heavily discounted rates, resulted in lower revenue across the board.
"The situation was compounded by the problem in west Kingston in April to May and this gave us one of the worst summers in many, many years."
Chairperson of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association Runaway Bay-Ocho Rios Chapter, Vana Taylor, said businesses did not do as well as they could.
"The year started ahead of the previous year (2009); then came the disturbance in Kingston," Taylor said.