Jamaica predicts record tourist season

A record number of tourists are expected to visit Jamaica this winter despite the country’s struggle with crime, a tourism official said.

Jamaica projects about 1.2 million visitors this season, about 100,000 more than last year, said Horace Peterkin, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association. The increase is due largely to the construction of more hotel rooms and marketing efforts to attract visitors from new areas, including China, Peterkin said.

Most tourists visit the north coast resorts in Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Negril, areas with relatively few homicides compared to the rest of the country. Still, some in the industry feared a drop-off in business after an Australian tourist was stabbed to death in Montego Bay in August.

“I think it’s important to point out that of all the Caribbean islands, Jamaica has the lowest rate of crimes against tourists,” Peterkin said. There were more than 1,200 homicides in Jamaica through November — the third straight year the number has topped 1,000 on the island of 2.6 million people.