Canadians who plan to travel to the Caribbean this summer may want to check on some updated travel advisories before booking a ticket.
While many Caribbean Islands are safe to visit, some countries have seen a staggering uptick in crime. In some cases, robberies have turned violent.
Three of the most popular destinations have some increased travel risks but the Canadian government has not advised against visiting them.
There are certain safety concerns for Jamaica, the Bahamas, and the Dominican Republic so travellers should familiarize themselves with the current advice before planning a trip.
Travellers departing from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) should also check the advisory before they book and again on the day they are scheduled to depart. They should also check on delays at the airport due to strike action.
The Canadian government advises that there is a high level of violent crime in Jamaica and local authorities periodically declare a state of emergency to fight against gang-related activity.
Tourists are advised that "violent crime, including armed robbery and murder, is a problem in large cities and tourist areas, including parts of Kingston and Montego Bay, despite the presence of police to counter criminal activity."
There is a risk that travellers will also be caught in gang-related crossfires, as the risk of firearms is widespread in Jamaica.
If you travel to Jamaica during a state of emergency, you may be subject to searches by security forces.
If you are threatened by robbers, hand over any cash and valuables, as "resistance may provoke the use of violence."
Women travelling alone are frequently harassed. Compounds are "gated and guarded" and therefore generally safer. However, there have also been reports of sexual assaults by resort staff and other tourists.
An April 24 update to the advisory states that pick-pocketing and bag-snatching are common in popular tourist areas and crowded places. Petty crime happens more often during major events and demonstrations.
There is also an increased risk to travellers visiting the Bahamas right now due to high rates of crime, especially in Freeport and Nassau. Visitors should exercise a high degree of caution in these areas.
While rates of violent crime have decreased, the Canadian government advises that "armed robberies, burglaries, purse snatchings, theft, fraud and sexual assaults" are the most common crimes.
Robberies are frequent at cruise ship terminals and popular resort areas, even during the daytime. Crime increases during the holidays.
Sexual assaults are on the rise in Nassau, including on Paradise Island, but they occur frequently throughout the country. In some cases, victims were drugged. Incidents were reported in hotel rooms, in casinos, on cruise ships and on the beach.
Travellers to the Dominican Republic must also exercise a high degree of caution due to crime. Violent crime occurs, particularly in major cities, but the most significant threat to tourists is "opportunistic crime."
Tourists are common targets for theft, such as pick-pocketing and bag snatching, and crime rates rise during holiday periods.
Travellers staying at all-inclusive resorts may have belongings stolen from "hotel room safes, as well as from cars, particularly rentals."
Thieves also steal bags and other valuables by grabbing them as they drive by on motorcycles, scooters or bicycles. They may even reach into vehicles, including taxis, when they are stopped at red lights.
Checked baggage has also been stolen from airports, most often when travellers are departing. Items have also been stolen from carry-on bags as travellers pass through security.
When it comes to purchasing travel insurance, Canadians should consider that most policies include a clause that outlines government travel advisories. You may not be entitled to reimbursement for trip cancellation if you purchase a holiday while a warning is in place, depending on the level of risk that has been assessed by the Canadian government.
© 2023 Vancouver Is Awesome