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The U.S. State Department just issued a travel alert for anyone going to the Bahamas – here’s why

Why the State Department is urging Bahamas visitors to use caution

Bahamas
Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock

The Bahamas is one of the most popular travel destinations, especially for Americans. The white sandy beaches and clear blue waters draw in millions of visitors every year. However, the Bahamas is now facing heightened concern about safety due to a recent warning of increased violence.

On January 26, the U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory for the country, urging U.S. citizens to be cautious when traveling to the area. 

The Bahamas
Lauren_vdM / Pixabay

What prompted the travel advisory?

The U.S. Embassy in Nassau released a statement advising U.S. citizens to be aware of increased crime in the Bahamas. Since the beginning of 2024, there have been 18 murders in Nassau. These murders have occurred at all hours of the day, including in broad daylight on the streets.

The State Department says that most of these issues are due to gang-on-gang violence and occur in both tourist and non-tourist areas. The country is also experiencing issues such as violent crime, burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assaults.

When issuing travel advisories, the State Department employs a scale of levels from 1 to 4 to describe the severity of the situation. Currently, the Bahamas is under a Level 2 advisory, which means to “exercise increased caution: Be aware of heightened risks to safety and security.” Oftentimes, visitors to Level 2 areas do not need to be extremely worried about their safety, but it is always a good idea to stay aware.

On the other hand, if a country is under a Level 3 advisory, then U.S. citizens are urged to avoid the area. Countries under a Level 4 travel advisory come with a strict “do not travel” policy. Countries currently under a Level 4 travel advisory include Russia and Ukraine.

In addition to the Bahamas, other tropical destinations such as Turks and Caicos and Cuba are also under a Level 2 travel advisory due to a rise in crime. Mexico has a wide variety of travel advisories ranging from Level 2 to Level 3.  Jamaica was recently raised to a Level 3 advisory due to issues with crime and medical services.

Homes in the Bahamas
cgordon8527 / Shutterstock

How to stay safe when traveling to the Bahamas

The statement released by the U.S. Embassy includes information on how to stay safe when traveling to the Bahamas. The Embassy advises travelers to be extremely cautious when traveling through the eastern part of New Providence Island, which is home to the capital city of Nassau. Much of the gang violence is taking place in the “Over the Hill” area just south of Shirley Street. Travelers are urged to avoid this area if possible.

Other suggestions include using extreme caution when walking or driving at night, keeping a low profile, and ultimately being aware of your surroundings. It is also important to review your personal security plans and to not physically resist any robbery attempt.

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