Bahamas travel warning updated amid violent crime wave

The US State Department has posted a travel advisory update urging Americans to “exercise increased caution” in the Bahamas, citing crime.

“Gang-on-gang violence has resulted in a high homicide rate primarily affecting the local population,” the advisory, posted on January 26, reads. The advisory out the most-affected islands of New Providence, where Nassau is located, and Grand Bahama, where Freeport is located.

“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.”

The Bahamas is listed at Level 2, Exercise Increased Caution, out of 4 advisory levels.

The State Department said Tuesday that the advisory level did not change in its January 26 update.

Bahamas Prime Minister Phillip Edward Davis underlined the unchanged advisory level.

“We remain a level 2 alongside most tourism destinations. The incidents described in the January 2024 US Embassy crime alert do not reflect general safety in The Bahamas, a country of sixteen (16) tourism destinations, and many more islands,” Davis said in a statement provided to CNN Travel on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister was referring to a security alert from the US Embassy in Nassau on January 24 calling attention to 18 murders that have taken place in Nassau since the beginning of 2024. The alert cites gang violence as the primary motive, noting murders have occurred at all hours, “including in broad daylight.”

“We can confirm that one person was killed on the island New Providence, and at least 18 in Nassau since the start of the year,” the State Department said in a statement to CNN on Tuesday. “But the U.S. Embassy in Nassau is not aware of any U.S. citizens who have been affected.”

The security alert urged people to exercise “extreme caution in the eastern part of New Providence Island (Nassau)” and also recommends being careful while driving or walking at night, not resisting robbery and other precautions.

In the travel advisory updated two days later, the State Department again urges travelers not to resist any robbery attempts and cautions against opening doors to strangers.

The Prime Minister’s statement said the Bahamas is implementing a crime reduction and prevention strategy and law enforcement is “taking rigorous steps to maintain our well-earned reputation, including an enhanced police presence and additional police resources (including facial recognition CCTV surveillance technology) and training.”

Jamaica advisory: Reconsider travel

The Bahamas isn’t the only Caribbean destination with an updated travel alert. Jamaica’s advisory was updated on January 23 to include new crime and health information. It is listed at Level 3, Reconsider Travel. While the advisory was updated, the level remained the same, the State Department said Tuesday.

“Violent crimes, such as home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides, are common. Sexual assaults occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts,” the State Department advisory for Jamaica reads.

The advisory outlines specific crime risk areas in 12 of Jamaica’s 14 parishes. It also highlights difficulties travelers could face in accessing medical services.

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