(ReliableNews.org) – On January 30, the US Embassy in Jamaica announced that the State Department recently changed its travel advisory for the island based on several factors. The Bureau of Consular Affairs raised the advisory to a Level 3, telling citizens to reconsider traveling to Jamaica, citing a sharp increase in violent crimes, the lack of police response to criminal activities, and the lack of emergency and medical care on the island. The Bahamas advisory was updated as well — to a Level 2 due to crime. That level tells travelers to exercise increased caution while visiting the islands. Both locations had a negative reaction to the warnings.
On February 5, the New York Post reported that tourism boards in the Bahamas and Jamaica insisted the countries were safe for tourists, even though the US increased its advisory level for both areas. According to Travel Weekly, the Jamaica Tourist Board said crimes against visitors are at an extreme low — .01%. While it admitted there were some places in Jamaica where tourists could be at risk for high crime, the board asserted that most of the “island’s tourism product remains unaffected.” The entity encouraged people to still visit the island, as millions from the United States do every year “with confidence.”
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism also spoke out about its travel advisory, insisting the Level 2 ranking hasn’t changed. The group said the incidents listed in the recent US Embassy crime alert don’t represent “general safety in the Bahamas.” The islands reportedly welcomed over 9 million visitors in 2023. The tourism board stated that the government was taking drastic measures to reduce crime and increase prevention on the islands.
According to Jamaica Constabulary Force, there have been 83 murders on the island so far this year, along with 88 shootings, 29 rapes, and 57 robberies. Those numbers are alarming, considering they are quickly approaching the levels from the entirety of 2023. Shootings have already exceeded last year’s numbers, and robberies are already even with 2023. The statistics seem to justify the increased threat level from the State Department.
While the Royal Bahamas Police puts out a daily crime report, it’s unclear how 2024 is shaping up when compared to previous years. The travel advisory from the bureau stated that most of the crimes are happening on the Nassau and Freeport islands, where it lists gang-on-gang violence as the main culprit of an increase in violence in tourist and non-tourist areas. Those crimes include burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assaults.
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