Jamaica at Increased Travel Risk Due to Murders and Medical Services, US Government Says

The U.S. government has raised its travel alert level for Jamaica, warning American citizens to reconsider visiting the Caribbean nation because of crime and unreliable medical services. The State Department issued a Level 3 travel advisory for Jamaica, just days after a similar warning about the Bahamas. The advisories come as many Americans are planning their vacations for the year ahead.

According to the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica, violent crimes such as home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides are common. Additionally, sexual assaults occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts. The advisory also highlighted that Jamaican police often do not respond effectively to serious criminal incidents. It further stated that hospitals and ambulances are not always reliable and that some private institutions may require payment up-front.

The State Department noted that the homicide rate reported by the Government of Jamaica has been among the highest in the Western Hemisphere for several years. Statistics published by the Jamaica Constabulary Force show that, despite a decrease in homicides compared to the previous year, the number of shootings and people injured in crimes has increased. The data also showed a significant drop in the number of recorded rapes in January 2024 compared to the previous year.

In the Bahamas, the U.S. Embassy in Nassau reported 18 murders in the capital city since the start of the year, most of which were linked to gang violence. The embassy urged travelers to exercise extreme caution, particularly in the eastern part of New Providence Island (Nassau), and to be extra careful when walking or driving at night. It also advised visitors not to physically resist any robbery attempt and to review their personal security plans.

Tourism is a significant sector for Jamaica’s economy, with the Minister of Tourism expecting a “spectacular growth pattern” to continue in the coming years. Despite the travel warnings, tourism brought roughly $4.2 billion into Jamaica’s economy in 2023. This indicates that, while the warnings may influence travel plans, the impact on the nation’s overall economy remains to be seen.