Why I'm Writing This Article...Not To Dump On Jamaica, I LOVE JamaicaI know this article is going to get some backlash and let me say at the outset, it isn't my intention to dump on Jamaica or talk negative about Jamaica.
I'm a longtime traveler to Jamaica and even used to jokingly refer to myself as a Jamerican as so many longtime regular travelers to Jamaica do. I love Jamaica, I love the people, I love the food, and I've always been the first to stand up for Jamaica, it's reputation, and people when I felt people were unjustly giving Jamaica or Negril a bad rap.
|Negril I Miss You!!!|
I'm a longtime member of TripAdvisor and honestly in the past I'd be the first one to poke fun at people who's high expectations didn't allow them to have a good time in such a beautiful and wonderful place. I'd be the first person to chastise people who expected a destination to cater to them versus just going with the flow and taking a place for what it is. I'd also be the first person to stick up for Jamaica when people complained about beach vendors. I'd be the first on in line saying this is their home we are just visitors, or saying they are just trying to eek out a living and feed their family take it easy a polite no thank you will do.
Let's be honest, Jamaica is not a cheap place to visit. Granted you can choose to stay at budget places or high end all inclusives but apples for apples Jamaica is not going to be as cheap as Mexico, the Dominican, Columbia, Brazil or many other destinations. I think it's also fair to say that the customer service and service industry of Jamaica is not what it is in other destinations, not even other third world destinations.
Jamaican Standards Not On Par With Other Destinations
If we compare apples to apples the quality of hotel, food, and service I get in Jamaica is not going to compare to similar price points or star ratings in many other destinations like Mexico, Playa, Honduras, Costa Rica, and others. A 5 star in Jamaica is probably like a 3.5 star in Mexico or other places. I never had an issue with this though. I realize Jamaica is a ya mon, all is irie, laid back place and I actually think that's part of the charm of Jamaica. What I'm not willing to accept however is the same laze fair attitude when it comes to safety and security.
|Jamaica - Lovely People|
That said dropping a similar amount of money in Mexico or other destinations you'll probably have a very modern well done, well maintained hotel with great customer service and Five star food. That's perfectly fine with me and I'm not making issue with that, though I do still think it's important to point out. I'm someone who doesn't complain when my tv doesn't work, and I don't even complain when a little bit of sewage water is comming out of the drain of my shower, par for the course, it's Jamaica and I'm barely in my room anyways. I'm not someone who needs modern updated digs or cares if my bathroom counter top has granite. I do however find it unacceptable when i can lift my sink out of the countertop with two fingers.
Beach Hagglers Don't Bother Me...BUT Aggressive Begging Does
I'm not one to complain about the beach hagglers. On TripAdvisor and other sites I'd always be the first one to respond to visitors who complian about the beach hagglers telling them and others, hey it's their home, were just visitors. It's part of the experience. Enjoy their funny and witty sales pitches, take it for what it is, roll with it and enjoy. If you focus on that stuff and let yourself get negative you'll hate it. I was always one who enjoyed joking and bantering with the hagglers and took it as part of the experience. Also, it's their home and their beach, I'm just a visitor. I really and truly felt that way.
|Negril Jamaica Hotel - 7 Mile Beach|
One particular incident a guy told me to give him $5. When I politely told him no, he told me "would be a shame if you got stabbed". Really, give me $5 or I'll stab you?
On another occasion I thought I had made friends with a beach vendor who ran a small convenience store. He asked if I'd like to see where he lived which was attached to the place and right on the beach. I questioned whether it was a good idea, however I saw another American women back there talking with another guy so figured what the heck, it was only about 15 yards back off the beach. I walked back there and that's when an agressive sales pitch to buy Marijuana started. When I declined multiple times he started getting aggressive with me and I was getting backed into a corner by him and another guy. I balled up my fists ready to fight my way out of there and wound up seeing a gap and just ran away. Even after these experiences I still went back to Jamaica another 4-5 times.
So What Actually Made Me Cancel My Trip & Lose Money In The Process?
So, as you can tell, I'm not someone who ever viewed Jamaica or Negril with rose colored glasses. I have always realized Negril is a little rough around the edges and that common sense and street smarts will go a long way to keep you safe. I also realize that Negril isn't necessarily a dangerous place and 9 out of 10 times you'll probably have a great and safe trip.
So you're probably wondering, what actually made me cancel my trip despite losing money? And believe me, I'm cheap so for me to lose $216 to cancel and change destinations that was a big deal to me.
|Negril Jamaica Lighthouse|
If you are a regular Jamaican traveler you know how defensive Jamericans can be about their beloved island. I havn't travelled to Jamaica nearly as many times as many of you have but still love the island and was always quick to stick up for Jamaica when people would say bad things. I would write off their negative stuff as they had too high expectations or are too picky. They expect a destination to cater to them and their lifestyle vs. just going with the flow and enjoying.
What bothered me however was hearing so many long time regular visitors say that the vibe in Negril has changed. It's not the same as it used to be. It's no longer safe. They no longer feel comfortable. They had too many negative incidents happen down there.
Knowing how defensive those who love Jamaica are about the island and it's people, and to hear those same people saying they are fed up, or no longer feel safe, I felt I wouldn't enjoy my trip and wound up cancelling.
Trip Advisor Is Not Doing Anyone A Favor Censoring Safety Concerns On Their Forum
Trip Advisor as many of you may know is very big into censorship of anything negative about a destoination and safety. If you don't believe me try posting a news story or even asking about a particular incident that may have happenned in a tourist destination. It won't be more than a couple hours before the post is either taken down entirely or heavily edited or people's posts removed.
|Mayfield Falls Waterfall Jamaica|
By not allowing this type of stuff to be discussed, TripAdvisor, allows people's imaginations to run wild and allows stories to get passed along inaccurately like in a game of telephone and stories which may be mundane take on a much scarier tone because it is being censored like were not supposed to know. Also, how can a site censor a topic like safety and security, like myself as a traveler don't deserve to know where I'm going. Not only is it doing a disservice but it's also potentially sending someone to a destination they otherwise would not go to because they didn't have all the informaiton they needed at hand to make a decision.
Sadly Jamaica Farewell.... For Now At Least
So what made me cancel my already planned trip to Jamaica, even despite losing a couple hundred dollars in the process?
Like I said, I've had a few close calls and scary situations in Jamaica and I've still returned back. I've always felt even my own city has it's issues and just be streetwise and have some common sense.
I've traveled to Jamaica during US State Dept warnings about the island when the whole Christopher Dudus standoff was going on. I had no issues with traveling as Kingston and those issues were a world removed from Negril. That would be like people saying of my home city Chicago, don't travel to Chicago because of all the violence, when in reality tourists will be downtown and on Michigan avenue and have no reason or desire to travel to Englewood or Pullman. That wouldn't be fair, nor would it be a reason not to visit.
|Negril 7 Mile Beach|
Like I said, I'm quick to defend Jamaica and quick to write off complainers as whiny people or scaredy cats, however when I keep hearing from longtime visitors that the vibe has changed, that they aren't going back, that Negril is really in a troublesom period, I just can't justify going, it's just not worth it as small as the risk may be of something bad happening. It's almost laughable how casually many website posters are talking about the security situation in Negril. It's one thing to say use common sense and street smarts and don't carry around or flash valualbes. Many of the stuff I'm reading almost seem to read as if it's a 50/50 shot whether you are mugged or have some very negative threatening encounter. I don't know about you guys but I'm very much so a fight or flight respone type person. If I'm in a situation I have two responses, I'm going to run like hell or I'm going to fight you to the death and a "casual mugging" as many people almost seem to put it could very easily end up in a life or death situation and that's not something I take lightly.
I'm not writing Jamaica off forever. I love the island, I love the people, I love the vibe, and the beaches are unmatched compared to anywhere I've ever traveled before. That said until Jamaica and specifically Negril gets things under control, runs off some of the bad elements who prey on tourists, I will not be going back.
I truly hope Jamaica gets things in check and makes a change for the better and am eagerly awaiting that to happen so I can make my way back there. That is a large part of why I'm writing this article to hopefully to get others to bring attention to this very issue and maybe even make the tourist board realize if you want visitors and tourist dollars you need to clean things up. I don't want Jamaica to become some sanitized Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville touristy cookie cutter destination. I love that Jamaica isn't an uptight place where you have to sign waivers to do activities and things like that. That in large part was always what I loved about Jamaica but take security and safety seriously, put a stop to the stories about iPhones getting snatched, people getting mugged or having knives pulled on them. Get the guns off the streets and clean things up a bit and I will return. Until then it's other destinations for me sadly.
Thanks and if you agree with the sentiment behind this article and feel the same way I do please share this article on Twitter, Facebook and other Social Media platforms to bring attention to cleaning up this place we all love. To any of you with Youtube channels pleaese make a video sharing some of your thoughts on why you love Jamaica and how it's changed over the past number of years. Thanks.