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The Impact of Crime and Violence on Tourism in Jamaica

The rapid development of international tourism and its spreading almost in every corner of the globe put sharply the problem of safety provision for tourists. It can be said that recently there was a considerable rise in the threat for tourists’ lives, health, and belongings. At the same time, tourism agencies as any other business ventures are interested, first of all in gaining profit, not providing their clients with enough information, and without outlining the regions of increased danger, including the criminal environment.

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Accordingly, such local characteristics as crime rates can be influential in terms of tourism statistics. In that regard, it can be quite controversial for a country like Jamaica which was ranked within “the top five of the world’s most favored tourist destinations”, where “Jamaica was rated highest among her competitors in both the number of travel agents who ranked Jamaica first and also those who classified Jamaica among the top three in the Traveline Survey report on the Quality of Tourist Office Service, which was published in June 1998.” (“Tourism in Jamaica,” 2009)

In that sense, various statistics indicate relatively high rates of crime in Jamaica, which can be seen as influential on the foreign presence in general and tourism in particular. In that regard, media coverage of crime statistics can be considered lacking in terms of determining the relationship between crime and tourism. Thus, this paper proposes an attempt to examine the crime rate as a predictor for tourist arrivals in Jamaica providing a quantitative analysis of the correlation between both indicators.


Jamaica, an island located at the northern boundary of the Caribbean Sea, has always been known for its natural beauty. (Leonard, 2006, p. 888) Gaining independence in 1962 for Great Britain, Jamaica shifted from agriculture, as the basis of the economy, into utilizing natural resources such as aluminum, ore, and bauxite. With an estimated population of 2.7 million, nearly 20% of the population lives below the level of poverty. (Leonard, 2006)

Due to the natural beauty of the island, tourism has always been considered as one of the major sources of state Jamaican income. As of 2005, which was considered as “the best year ever for Jamaica’s tourism”(“Jamaica Tourism Statistics for 2005,” 2005) at the time, the year witnessed over 1,478,663 stop-over arrivals to Jamaica, demonstrating a 17.9% growth. As it was stated by Jean-Claude Baumgarten, the president of World Travel & Tourism Council,

The importance of travel & tourism to the Caribbean is indisputable. However, the industry’s potential is a long way from being fully tapped, and both government and industry will have to overcome a number of challenges to ensure sustainable long-term growth. (“The Future of Caribbean Accommodations,” 2008).

In regard of the aforementioned challenges, crime and violence can be considered among the most influential on Jamaican tourism in particular, and the development of Jamaican state in general. In regard of crime statistics, it can be said that the indicators are not so promising. Although the total crime rate per capita in Jamaica is not that high, where Jamaica is ranked 37th of 60 country, with 14.3 per 1000, some specific crimes are causing a threat to the county’s reputation.

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For example, in terms of assaults, Jamaica is ranked the 14th of 57 countries, with 3.9 per 1000 people, whereas in terms of murders, the situation is even worse, where Jamaica is ranked the third, with 0.3 per 1000 people. (“Crime Statistics,” 2009).

Additionally, 45.56 % of managers surveyed for World Development Indicators database, indicated corruption as the major business constraint in Jamaica. (“Crime Statistics,” 2009). It can be added that Jamaica is a major source of people trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation and labor. There are suggestions of Jamaica being also a destination in people trafficking, where “women from the Dominican Republic and Eastern Europe are also trafficked to Jamaica for sexual exploitation.” (“Crime Statistics,” 2009). Finally, Jamaica serves as a transshipment point for cocaine from South America to North America and Europe, where “Colombian narcotics traffickers favor Jamaica for illicit financial transactions.” (“Crime Statistics,” 2009).

Literature Review

Assessing the roots of violence in Jamaica takes a historical perspective, one of which emphasizes the role of the political confrontations that took place in 1940s. Having started as political assassination of a political supporter during the election campaign, the violence developed outlining the facts that there were “loyal supporters ready to engage in violence against their rivals during this early phase of party politics in Kingston.” (Harriott, 2003).

Following the political roots of violence and crime in Jamaica, it has been argued that the current state of the problem in Jamaica is partly caused by the overall perception of crime, where people were adjusted to the degree where crime became one of the norms by which they coexist. (Harriott, 2003). In that regard, the main contributors to this problem can be seen through the mal-administration and the ineffectiveness of the country’s institutions in providing policies capable of reducing the roots of violence, such as socioeconomic inequalities. (Harriott, 2003).

In terms of the relation of violence to tourism indicators, there was little of empirical work in that matter. Regarding the perceptions of tourism in Jamaica it was found that “crime and violence were perceived to be the major problem affecting the tourism industry in the country.” (Dillon Alleyne & Ian Boxill, 2003). This perception can be seen reflected through the media, where speeches of officials about the challenges that crime pose to developing tourism (“Jamaica: Minister worried about effect of rise in crime on vital tourism sector,” 2003), and the drop of indicators after a certain criminal outbreak (“Crime gets blame for Jamaica tourism drop,” 1994), neither demonstrate causation nor correlation in examining such phenomenon.

Nevertheless, several studies were conducted analyzing the relation between the crime and the tourism sector in Jamaica. Examining tourists’ arrival and changes in crime rate over the period of 1962-1999, a study addressed to eliminate the limitations of a previous research, showed that crime rates have a negative impact on tourists’ arrival in Jamaica, specifically in the European markets. (Dillon Alleyne & Ian Boxill, 2003). Additionally, the study indicated that this impact is relatively small, due to the extensive advertisement. Nevertheless, the crime rates although not directed toward tourists, still of major concern for visitors when planning their destination. (Dillon Alleyne & Ian Boxill, 2003).

The findings are also supported in another study, where in addition to crime and violence, harassment was outlines as an influential factor on the tourism sector. In that regard, the study showed that crime, violence and harassment impacted the tourism and hospitality industry in Jamaica, suggesting that the causes of the aforementioned factors have a significant role in building the perception of the tourism industry in Jamaica, and thus requiring an immediate intervention. (Ajagunna).

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It can be seen that despite the wide acknowledgement of the existence of a direct relation between the crime rates and tourism, there is a deficit in terms of empirical researches in that field. Additionally, the omission of many variables in the aforementioned relation outlines the necessity of a valid research, especially considering the need for an updated statistics in that regard.

Research method

The present paper proposes analyzing the crime indicators and tourism performance in terms of periods, where periods should indicate feedbacks in terms of major crimes appearing in the media. The proposed period is three months which usually represent peak seasons for tourism. The proposed design is quantitative, where the dependant variable is tourist’s arrivals for the indicated period. Accordingly, the main independent variable will be crime indicators, which will be accordingly rated through a Crime Rating Tool (CRT) a survey which will be composed of items representing common crimes to be rated on Likert scale, based on their influence in making the decision of visiting a country.

In order to avoid bias, the survey will be posted on several tourism sites, with the administration’s agreement, without specific indications to a particular country. The purpose of this rating is to add a detailed explanation of the nature of influence of different crime statistics on tourists’ arrival. The crime statistics will be used from public sources, such as The Jamaica Constabulary Force website, which as stated on their site might provide statistics upon request. In that regard, a detailed statistics might be obtained for narrower specific periods rather than annual reports.

Additionally, several other variables will be included in the design in order to outline and limit the interference of other factors. The variables include media coverage of the crimes in Jamaica, where the variable will represent a scale of the coverage, based on the existence of major murders or high profile cases that imply publicity, e.g. the murder of high rank official,. Additionally, the variables include the percentage of local and foreign victims, the percentage of tourists coming for the second time and more, and others. The information will be processed using computer software such as Microsoft Excel, where the data will be analyzed using autoregressive average model and represented in graphs.


It can be predicted that the analysis will not establish a causal effect between the crime rates and the tourism indicators, where despite including several factors as variable, confounding factors still exist and they are difficult to measure. In that regard, an important outline should be made to the role of perception in terms of criminal activity. For example such factors as the tourists’ background and their tendency to visit countries which are considered unfavorable, ignoring the media and the country of origin might play a role, whereas the measurement of their influence will be a difficult task.

Accordingly, the limitations of the study might be apparent through taking the general statistics of the crimes in Jamaica, which correspond to their ratings among other countries, and the influences of the differentiation between various resort areas and cities which might be more subjected to crime.

Additionally, the role of the population’s perception can be seen influential as a subject of future researches. The importance of the population perception can be seen through distinguishing Jamaica’s resort region from others, where usually the crime rate tend to be lower in other countries as the welfare of the local population is partially dependent on high flow of tourists. In Jamaica the situations seem to be the opposite, which might be explained by an earlier statement of Jamaican “adjusting the threshold of normality in both the moral and statistical senses… shifting the definitional boundaries of what is socially regarded as crime,” (Harriott, 2003).


In conclusion, it should be noted that despite the decline of tourism in Jamaica and the relation to the crime rates, the tourism industry is still holding high positions in the country, providing many opportunities for investments and development. Nevertheless, the high position of tourism cannot deny the fact that a problem still exists, and in light of the overall global concern for safety and security, the findings of the research imply the direction of future interventions.

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In that regard, the tourism sector can be seen as a powerful motive for the state to implement policies that will limit the influence of the crime on tourism. It should be agreed that many of the causes of high crime rates are related to the socioeconomic conditions of the country, which cannot be solved instantly. Nevertheless, the awareness should be risen toward the industry and its protection, as tourism can be considered one of the major contributors to the country’ economy, attracting foreign investments, and changing the socioeconomic conditions of Jamaica.


Ajagunna, I. Crime and harassment in Jamaica: consequences for sustainability of the tourism industry. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 18(3), 253-259.

Crime gets blame for Jamaica tourism drop. (1994). The Province, p. B28.

Crime Statistics. (2009). Nation Master. Web.

Dillon Alleyne, & Ian Boxill. (2003). The impact of crime on tourist arrivals in Jamaica. International Journal of Tourism Research, 5(5), 381-391.

The Future of Caribbean Accommodations. (2008). Jamaica Tourist Board. Web.

Harriott, A. (2003). Understanding crime in Jamaica: new challenges for public policy: University of the West Indies Press.

Jamaica Tourism Statistics for 2005. (2005). Caribbean Online. Web.

Jamaica: Minister worried about effect of rise in crime on vital tourism sector. (2003). BBC Monitoring Americas, 1.

Leonard, T. M. (2006). Encyclopedia of the developing world. New York: Routledge.

Tourism in Jamaica. (2009). The Jamaica Tourist Board. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 7). The Impact of Crime and Violence on Tourism in Jamaica.

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StudyCorgi. "The Impact of Crime and Violence on Tourism in Jamaica." November 7, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "The Impact of Crime and Violence on Tourism in Jamaica." November 7, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'The Impact of Crime and Violence on Tourism in Jamaica'. 7 November.

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