The American government recommends that tourists “reconsider travel” to Jamaica and “exercise increased caution” when traveling to The Bahamas, recently raising the official travel advisory for both destinations.
Here’s what travelers need to know.
Jamaica Travel Advisory Raised to Level 3: Reconsider Travel
The U.S. State Department just changed their travel advisory for Jamaica to Level 3: Reconsider Travel, due to crime and concerns over medical services available in the country. The U.S. Embassy in Jamaica explained the decision in a statement warning, “Violent crimes, such as home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides, are common. Sexual assaults occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts.” The new warning comes after Jamaica reported 65 homicides between January 1 and January 27, some of which had occurred in public settings in broad daylight.
Concerns over the availability and quality of medical services in the country also contributed to the increased warning. “Emergency services and hospital care vary throughout the island, and response times and quality of care may vary from U.S. standards,” said the embassy. “Public hospitals are under-resourced and cannot always provide high level or specialized care. Private hospitals require payment up front before admitting patients and may not have the ability to provide specialized care. Ambulance services are not always readily available, especially in rural areas, and are not always staffed by trained personnel.”
If you decide to travel to Jamaica, the State Department recommends avoiding walking or driving at night, avoiding public buses, staying away from secluded areas, and remaining aware of your surroundings. If you are involved in a robbery attempt, do not resist and hand over your belongings immediately.
The Bahamas Travel Advisory Raised to Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution
The U.S. State Department also recently raised the travel advisory for The Bahamas to Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution due to increased crime. According to a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, “18 murders have occurred in Nassau since the beginning of 2024. Murders have occurred at all hours, including in broad daylight on the streets. Retaliatory gang violence has been the primary motive in 2024 murders.”
The travel advisory specifically warns about violence on Nassau and Grand Bahama islands, stating, “Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assaults, occur in both tourist and non-tourist areas. Be vigilant when staying at short-term vacation rental properties where private security companies do not have a presence.”
In addition, the government warns against tourists renting commercial recreational watercraft, such as jet skis, or participating in water tours in The Bahamas, saying, “Watercraft may be poorly maintained, and some operators may not have safety certifications. Always review and heed local weather and marine alerts before engaging in water-based activities. Commercial watercraft operators have discretion to operate their vessels regardless of weather forecasts; injuries and fatalities have occurred.”
If you decide to travel to The Bahamas, The State Department recommends remaining vigilant. Do not answer the door at your hotel or vacation rental unless you know who it is, and never physically resist any robbery attempt.
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