U.S. issues travel advisory for Jamaica, Bahamas amid rising crime; local agent stresses safety measures – KWQC

BETTENDORF, Iowa (KWQC) – The U.S. Department of State has issued a new warning for American travelers headed to the Caribbean due to violent crime. These warnings come as many people are planning and booking their vacations for spring break.
In the travel advisory issued last week for both the Bahamas and Jamaica, the State Department said: “Violent crimes, such as home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides, are common.”
The travel advisory for The Bahamas is currently at level 2, urging travelers to ‘exercise increased caution.’ Meanwhile, the advisory for Jamaica is more severe at level 3, advising those planning a trip to ‘reconsider travel,’ which is one level below the department’s level 4 ‘do not travel’ advisory.
According to media reports, there have been 18 murders in the Bahamas, and 65 in Jamaica since the start of the new year. However, most of these were linked to gang violence.
With the reported increase in violence, travelers may be wondering if it is safe to travel to these two tropical destinations. A local travel agent says it’s generally safe if you take some precautions.
“Look through a recommended travel agency that is very important. The second thing is when you’re on vacation, don’t go off by yourself to stay with your group. If you’re with a group of people, and if you’re going out to a bar at night for example, you want to make sure that you have a buddy system, keep your friends with you,” said Teresa Gonzales, manager for Gulliver’s Travel Duck Creek.
In the event of an emergency, the state department also warned “high level or specialized” health care may not be available, and patients may be required to pay for medical care upfront.
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