The United States government has increased its travel advisory for Jamaica following a recent rise in homicides in the country. They are advising Americans to carefully consider their plans to visit the island due to concerns about crime and inconsistent medical services.
The State Department recently updated its travel advisory for Jamaica from a Level 2 to a Level 3. This comes shortly after issuing a warning for the Bahamas, which remains at a Level 2, advising American citizens to be cautious despite recent violent incidents.
Many Americans are currently making plans and reservations for their upcoming vacations, but they should be aware of the warnings regarding travel to popular tourist destinations.
It has been cautioned that there is a high occurrence of violent crimes, such as break-ins, robberies, sexual assaults, and killings. Sexual assaults are particularly prevalent, even at all-inclusive resorts.
According to the report, the Jamaican authorities have a tendency to not adequately address serious crimes. The notice also mentioned that medical facilities and emergency services cannot always be trusted, and certain private establishments may demand payment in advance.
“The State Department observed that the homicide rate disclosed by the Government of Jamaica has consistently ranked as one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere.”
The Jamaica Constabulary Force has released statistics showing that the country, with a population of approximately 2.8 million, had 65 homicides from January 1st to January 27th of this year. This is a decrease from the previous year’s number of 81 homicides during the same time frame. However, there was an increase in the number of shootings and injuries related to crimes this January compared to last. The data also indicates a significant decrease in reported rape cases in January 2024 compared to the previous year.
On Monday, the Jamaica Gleaner, which is the oldest newspaper in the country, reported that there were a total of 65 murders this month, with 19 occurring in just the previous week.
On January 24, the U.S. Embassy in Nassau reported that there have been a total of 18 homicides in the capital city of the Bahamas since the beginning of the year. These incidents have taken place at various times, including during daylight hours on public streets.
According to the statement, the majority of recent homicides were related to gang activity. It advised travelers to use extreme caution, especially in the eastern portion of New Providence Island (Nassau), and to be particularly vigilant when walking or driving at night.
The embassy cautioned against physically resisting any robbery attempt and recommended that visitors review their personal safety plans.
The tourism industry plays a significant role in Jamaica’s economy. In December, Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett informed the country’s legislators that he anticipates the impressive growth trend in 2022 and 2023 to persist.
According to a statement on the ministry’s website, the island is expected to have 4,122,100 visitors from January to December 2023, which is a 23.7% increase from the number of visitors in 2022.
The ministry reported that tourism contributed approximately $4.2 billion to Jamaica’s economy in 2023.