Montego Bay - Scam Alert.
Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
402Trip End Dec 31, 2013
We came away from the Caribbean with very mixed experiences and feelings. We discovered the Caribbean is not really for the independent traveller, but wholly and solely set up for the packaged, all inclusive tourists who love to throw their money around.
After enjoying our time in Cuba, we flew into Montego Bay, Jamaica. From the moment we arrived it was hassle, hassle, hassle! Our entire time in Montego Bay we were swooped on, tooted at, pushed, shoved, hassled and scammed. This improved somewhat when we moved location to a beach resort in Negril. Nevertheless it left us feeling so disappointed at Jamaica that Avan wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper to say they are missing out on the independent traveller who spends with the locals in favour of the monied tourist who stays in multi-national resorts and Jamaica does not get to keep the bulk of their tourist dollars
The big scam was a day tour. A local tour guide had struck up a conversation, each time we passed, in a more genuine way. Avan and he discussed the state of the cricket and we felt maybe we could trust booking a tour with him. He showed us a brochure outlining the trip - the brochure offered each way transport, a tour on the Black river, lunch then a visit to a waterfall. We negotiated a price in US$ which was the same as we had paid in Cuba for all day with lunch and 2 tourist spots. However when we arrived at the river we were taken to the cashier to pay for the boat ride. It was all a bit rushed as the boat was ready to go, but at the conclusion of the tour we tackled the driver - he advised the boat trip wasn't included in the deal. Avan hit the roof and he reluctantly agreed we could deduct the cost from his total. He then asked where we wanted to go now??? We said lunch and the waterfall as per the brochure - "ah no, the waterfall closes soon and it is not included, nor is lunch". (He was in earshot when other passengers on the boat trip were discussing they were going to the waterfall next). Our tourist guide insisted that we were only paying for the transport down to the river. Disillusioned we asked him to take us somewhere for a fish lunch. He headed back towards Montego Bay and stopped at a roadside stall, beside a river and we were immediately surrounded by many vendors pushing their faces into the windows of the van trying to sell, what appeared to us, to be the same food products. It was so frantic and crazy we didn't even get out of the car but asked to be taken back to our hotel.
In most places in the world we have been to, if there are touts and hassling, it reduces as the locals get to know you, but this was not the case in Montego bay.