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Tourist Victimization in Jamaica

Tourist Victimization in Jamaica
Author: David Humphreys
2 Commentries
There is no doubt a strong correlation between international tourism and host country crime rates, tourists may find themselves to be victims of crime when they are on holiday. The scope of the main paper highlights the dangers tourists may encounter whilst visiting destinations like The Caribbean. (Albuquerque. K, McElroy 1999 and Chesney-Lind. M, Lind. I. Y. 1986). The Caribbean experiences crime problems due to lack of social and economic development, communities and infrastructures sometimes cannot cope with the stress brought about by tourism development. Jamaica is a common destination among holiday makers can be dangerous if tourists leave the confines of the holiday resorts (Albuquerque. K, McElroy 1999). The inability of less developed countries infrastructures, communication systems, and public services to deal with the demand brought about by tourism causes seasonal problems for destinations, such as high levels of crime which can have a serious impact on the destination image.
There are many factors which contribute to the victimization of tourists which involve race, language, and even clothing. Tourists make easy targets for criminals because they may display valuable items and carry large sums of money, as well as this, when on holiday tourists act differently and are less likely to take the normal precautions that they would at home, tourists tend to take part in higher risk taking activities and will be in an unfamiliar environment which makes tourists more vulnerable to criminal activity.
The peak season for crime is also during the peak tourism season which shows the relationship between the increase of crime and tourist arrivals to Jamaica. (Albuquerque. K, McElroy. J. 1999). The article 'Tourism and Crime in Jamaica' outlines three main elements which occur for crime to take place; the tourist who may not be fully aware of the environment they are in, a determined criminal, and the absence of 'capable guardians' such as law enforcement and police services. This has lead to the emergence of criminal sub-cultures such as gangs in the less developed regions of Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and St. Lucia. This is a direct result of low employment, lack of development, and low education as well as the desire for the consumption of the latest goods, driven by western consumer culture and globalization.
The article 'Visitors as Victims' (Chesney-Lind. M, Lind. I. Y. 1986) highlights how advertising may encourage deviant behaviour, many hotels and airlines often advertise the concept of sun, sea and sex which promotes the idea of pursuing sex or romance, possibly leading to deviant behaviour, and this is described to be a contributing factor to the rise in prostitution in Waikiki. The increase of rapes, assaults and murder were covered extensively in the media which had a negative effect on the Caribbean's tourism industry so as a result, army patrols were placed in the street, curfews were imposed on youths, and travel advisories issued to tourists.
The development of hotels in the resort regions of Hawaii resulted in a 300 per cent increase of crimes related to theft, drugs and prostitution according to the Royal Barbados Police Force website. Tourism is described to be one of six main economic factors which explains the changes of juvenile behavior in Hawaii, in other words this implies that tourism creates a demand for criminal activity, although there is a clear link between tourism and crime, it seems a little simplistic to suggest that it is the increase of tourism that promotes higher crime rates among residents.
The risk of being a victim of crime is a worldwide issue; research shows less developed destinations have higher crime rates due to social and economic factors including lack of employment and education. There are precautions that tourists should take whilst visiting unfamiliar; these include issues such as leaving valuable items in safe places and not displaying portable wealth items such as cameras. Countries such as Jamaica issue travel advisories to tourists informing of the best ways to stay safe and should not be ignored, tourists who ignore these advisories and who take part in deviant behavior are much more likely to be victims of crimes like robberies as well as more rape and murder.
It is clear that the seasonality of tourism has similar patterns to the seasonality of crime, and tourists are targets because they carry large sums of money and are less likely to report a crime due to language barriers and the nuisance of getting involved with unpleasant situations, away from home. The fact remains that policing in less developed regions such as the Caribbean is not effective towards preventing crimes against tourists, possibly because of a lack of funding and resources, or more likely because of lack of interest, after all, tourists are only temporary visitors.

Albuquerque. K, McElroy. J. (1999) Tourism and Crime in the Caribbean. Annals of Tourism Research. Vol.26 No.4 pp. 968-984
Andvig. C. J. (1997) Some International Dimensions to Economic Crime and Police Activity. Nordic Journal of Political Economy. Vol. 24 pp.159-175
Chesney-Lind. M, Lind. I. Y. (1986) Visitors as Victims- Crimes Against Tourists in Hawaii. Annals of Tourism Research. Vol. 13 pp. 167-191
Glensor. W. R, Peak. J. K. (2004) Crimes Against Tourists. Problem-Oriented Guides for Police Problem-Specific Guides Series. No. 26
http://www.barbadospolice.gov.bb/_sec_x.cfm?category=Police%20statistics&section=CRIME Accessed on the 15-04-2010 at 13:44
http://www.has7.com/tourism-and-crime Accessed on the 15-04-2010 at 14:24
http://www.propertyshowrooms.com/thailand/guide/crime-and-police-in-thailand.asp Accessed on the 16-04-2010 at 12:15
http://www.popcenter.org/problems/crimes_against_tourists/3 Accessed on the 16-04-2010 at 18:10
Reflection on tourist victimization
Author: Natalie Williamson
I have chosen to comment on this paper as it is in my strand and it focuses on tourist victimization which is linked to crime. Furthermore, I found the topic interesting to read. This paper clearly fits well into strand three, risky territories.

The author has highlighted the key issues of the danger tourists may encounter whilst visiting destinations such as the Caribbean Islands. The high rates of tourists' victimization occur at destinations that also experience high rates of crime generally. Page and Connell (2006: 504) state that 3200-3400 tourists become victims of crime. However, if visitors take simple precautions that the police advise, could possibly reduce the likelihood of victimization.

Whilst oh holiday, it can be said that tourists are less likely to observe their normal precautions they would take when at home. The last thing they expect is to be victims of a theft or robbery. They tend to leave valuables on show, for example cameras, money and jewellery are left temptingly lying around (Ryan: 1993). Locked or unlocked motor vehicles or unattended on beaches (Ryan: 1993). Furthermore, being unfamiliar with their new environment, they sometimes end up on deserted beaches or in certain neighbourhoods that most local residents tend to avoid.

Travel risks have been widely examined by tourism researchers. According to Dickinson and Dolincar (2004) the concept of risk is central to tourist behaviour. Risk clearly plays a major role in the decision making process of tourists (Roehl and Fesenmaier: 1992). Tourism is an industry where both demand and supply can be sensitive to extreme events (Ritcher and Waugh: 1986; Ryan: 1993). The impact on the visitor's image of the destination is severely skewed towards negative associations with the visit where criminal victimization occurs (Page and Connell: 2006). However, it can be said that tourism and crime are less significant in terms of the media coverage than the impact of terrorism on tourism (Albuquerque and McElroy: 1999).

It can be said that tourists are sensitive to the negative image of a tourist destination. The image which individuals have of a specific destination plays a crucial role in such a destination's marketing success. This is because the decision-maker acts upon his/her image, beliefs and perceptions of the destination rather than the objective reality of it (Hunt, 1975: 1). Events of violence can affect a tourist destination long after the event has passed and stability has, in effect, been restored.Tourism will only bounce back to its before-violence level if the negative image is eradicated from the tourists' minds (Neumayer: 2004)

Albuquerque, K De and McElroy, J (1999) Tourism and crime in the
Caribbean. Annals of Tourism Research, 26(4), 968-984.

Dickinson, T and Dolincar, S (2004) No risk, no fun: The role of perceived
risk in adventure tourism. Faculty of Commerce. University of Wollongong

Hunt John D., (1975) Images as a factor in tourism development, Journal of Travel Research, 13(3), 1-7.

Neumayer, E (2004) The Impact of Political Violence on Tourism. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 48(2). 259-281.

Page, S. Connell, J. (2006). Tourism : a modern synthesis.. 2nd ed. London : Thomson Learning. 47.

Richter, L and Waugh, W (1986) Tourism Politics and Political Science: A Case of Not So Benign Neglect. Annals of Tourism Research, 10(3), 313-315.

Roehl, W. S., & Fesenmaier, D. R. (1992). Risk Perceptions and Pleasure Travel: AnExploratory Analysis. Journal of Travel Research, 30(4), 17.

Ryan, C. (1993) Crime, Violence, Terrorism and Tourism: An Accidental or Intrinsic Relationship. Tourism Management 14(3), 173-183.
The Disillusionment of Paradise
Author: Assa Diarisso
I have chosen to comment on this paper as I have always wanted to visit a Caribbean region but often times when the illusion of perfection is removed from a situation, clarity is identified.

Your paper is very interesting, as you said : there is no doubt of a strong (NEGATIVE) correlation between international tourism and host country crime rates.
Most of my comments highlight your point of view about this topic. Unfortunatelly, crime and violence is a problem that affects all areas of the world, but in the Caribbean region, especially Jamaica, crime and violence has reached endemic proportions.

Jamaica is known as an island of paradise for many individuals around the world. In reality, Jamaica is a country plagued with corruption and an unprecedented wave of violent crimes (Kovaleski, 1999).
Firstly, language, behaviour, music and other aspects of life have become increasingly conditioned by this violence (Phillips 1988). Nowadays we see many songs riddled with war, fighting, guns, and drugs.
Jamaica has had one of the highest murder rates in the world for years, ranking third after South Africa and Brazil in the latest U.N. estimates, despite its reputation as a happy-go-lucky island of sun, sand and reggae.

Crime trends reports done in Jamaica identified poverty as a primary cause of gang violence, since low income in the family can lead to the separation of children from their loved ones. Poverty is also the reason that children are working as sex slaves in the islands tourism sector. It may also be responsible for juveniles transporting drugs on behalf of South American cartels. Overall, poverty increases the vulnerability of both children and adults to commit criminal activity.

Another factor that contributes to the high levels of crime and violence in Jamaica is the high unemployment rates. Unemployment rates in Jamaica are high averaging around 15.5%. It is difficult for unskilled youths, especially school dropouts, to enter the labour force because of the high unemployment rates

The stagnation of the tourist industry in Jamaica is often attributed to the lack of new investment in hotels and other tourist infrastructure caused by increasing crime and violence.

According to Swanson, shopping is one of the most pervasive leisure activities engaged in by tourists, with significant economic, psychological and social benefits (Swanson, 2004).
In the October 26th issue of the Business Observer Jamaica's crime was put on the forefront. A British Foreign Office travel advisory, warned UK citizens about violent crime in Jamaica, which appeared in the pages of two of the country's major newspapers, raising fears that British tourists will be scared away from the island. Therefore here we see that Jamaica's crime and violence can affect the tourist sector of the island.

Finally, contrary to what you stated, crime in Jamaica has been given wide attention from policy makers and the general population. The sharp increase in crimes of violence in Jamaica has continued without decreasing in strength for two decades. Today no one is startled by the presence of armed guards with watchful attack dogs, patrolling shopping plazas and office buildings. Increasingly Jamaica has the appearance of a country under siege' (Phillips 1988).


Kovaleski, Serge F. (1999). Murder 'Madness' Bedevils Jamaica. Retrieved January 4,

Phillips, P. and Wedderburn, J. (1988). Symposium on Crime and Violence: Causes &

Swanson, K.K. (2004) "Tourists' and retailers' perceptions of souvenirs", Journal of Vacation Marketing 10 (4), pp. 363-367.