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JHTA: JHTA: Travel advisory no immediate impact on pre-bookings at Jamaican hotels

Published:Tuesday | November 24, 2015 | 12:00 AM


A worldwide travel advisory issued on Tuesday by the United States Department of State in the wake of terror attacks has not had any immediate impact on pre-bookings at Jamaican hotels.

In fact, the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend reflects bookings of between 80 and 85 per cent for the larger resorts and 50 to 75 per cent for the smaller properties, area chapter chair of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) Montego Bay, Omar Robinson, confirmed to The Gleaner.

"There has been no immediate fallout as a result of the advisory. Our main market - the US - remains buoyant, and we are still getting our fair share of numbers from Europe," Robinson said, adding that the island's tourism stakeholders were concerned about the threats posed by terrorists but were not panicking.

On Monday, with the heightened threat, the US released a statement warning its citizens of the possible risks of travel because of increased terrorist attacks.

The advisory stated that citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation. "Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowded places. Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events."


Increased security


In the meantime, security has been ramped up at the island's ports, with the tourism capital's main gateway, the Sangster International Airport, increasing surveillance.

"We already had a robust security programme in place. We will continue to execute as is necessary," the airport's chief commercial officer, Sitara Byfield, told The Gleaner.

The country's immigration officers have been briefed, and the scrutinising of passports is even more rigorous.

"Instructions to our officers are for them to continue to be vigilant," said acting head of the Passport Immigration Citizenship Agency, Cecil Bailey, adding that plans had been put in place to deal with increased volume, expected for the upcoming winter tourist season.

Late yesterday, the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment issued a media release stating that it was aware of the advisory and that it was monitoring the situation closely.

The advisory will remain in place until February 2016.