Caribbean islands insist there’s no increased threat to tourists as US tells citizens to ‘reconsider travel’

Is Jamaica safe
By Linsey McNeill
07/02/2024
Home » Caribbean islands insist there’s no increased threat to tourists as US tells citizens to ‘reconsider travel’

The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) is insisting that British tourists ‘can continue to come with confidence’ despite the US warning visitors to reconsider travel to the country.

Last month, the US reissued its travel advice for Jamaica with additional warnings about crime and medical services.

It said: “Violent crimes, such as home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides, are common. Sexual assaults occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts.”

The US Department of State added: “Local police often do not respond effectively to serious criminal incidents. When arrests are made, cases are infrequently prosecuted to a conclusive sentence.

“Emergency services and hospital care vary throughout the island, and response times and quality of care may vary from U.S. standards. 

“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.”

It said US citizens should ‘reconsider travel’.

However, the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) in London said it was important to note that the US travel advisory level of Jamaica has not changed, it has remained at three – one below a ‘do not travel warning’ – since 2022.

The JTB added: “There are very distinctly defined areas within Jamaica that the advisory cites as having high risk for crime, so the majority of the island’s tourism product remains unaffected.  

“Overall, the crime rate against visitors to Jamaica remains extremely low at 0.01%.”

It also said that the island ‘consistently ranks among the top destinations for international travel’.

More than four million people visited Jamaica in 2023. “Visitors can continue to come with confidence to enjoy all that Jamaica has to offer,” added the JTB.

The UK Foreign Office (FCDO) is not advising against travel to Jamaica, but it does warn that crime rates are ‘high’ in and around Kingston and the tourist mecca of Montego Bay.

The FCDO said the motive for most attacks on tourists is robbery but added that most hotels and resorts are well guarded. However, it said: “There have been incidents where tourists and visitors have been targets for rape and sexual assault. “Take care when using dating apps in Jamaica, especially those used by the LGBT+ community. 

“Criminals have used apps to lure victims to meet in a public place but later assault and rob them.”

The US has also issued warnings for citizens visiting the Bahamas. The US Embassy in Nassau said 18 murders have occurred on the island since the start of 2024.

“Murders have occurred at all hours including in broad daylight on the streets,” it said. “Retaliatory gang violence has been the primary motive in 2024 murders.”

However, Bahamian Prime Minister Philip Davis told a US publication: “The incidents described in the January 2024 US Embassy crime alert do not reflect general safety in The Bahamas, a country of sixteen tourism destinations, and many more islands.”

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