On October 5th, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) updated its travel advisory for Jamaica, perhaps causing some travelers to wonder if they should think twice about visiting Jamaica’s picture-perfect shores. Over the years, The DOS has issued travel advisories for Jamaica for various reasons, with the latest being crime. However, travelers still flock to Jamaica in droves, leading one to wonder whether the Level 3 advisory issued by the DOS truly captures the whole story.
So, is it actually safe for tourists to head to Jamaica?
The Short Answer: Yes, For Most
First, some more detail about the advisory. A level 3 travel advisory means that the Department of State advises travelers to Reconsider Travel. However, by July this year, over a million Americans had visited Jamaica, suggesting most simply aren’t reconsidering. Are they knowingly visiting a destination they fear will subject them to a crime?
Of course not.
Travelers wouldn’t go to Jamaica if they feared for their safety, yet the country continues to welcome millions of travelers. Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, recently confirmed the country is witnessing unprecedented visitation.
“We are now seeing over the last three or four months of reporting, starting in June, where we are exceeding arrivals for 2019.”Hon. Edmund Bartlett
If the country is teeming with tourists, travelers clearly feel safe when visiting. So, what’s the real story behind traveler safety in Jamaica?
First off, there are places you should go and places you shouldn’t. For the average traveler heading to an all-inclusive who plans to stick with reputable tour operators for outings off-property, there is virtually nothing to worry about. If you read the State Department’s advisory, they list parishes that travelers will likely find themselves in at some point during their stay in Jamaica.
However, for travelers flying into Montego Bay with the sole intention of riding straight to a resort to enjoy a week of complete relaxation, the chances of falling victim to a crime are almost nonexistent. In fact, speaking at a recent event, the President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Nicola Madden-Greig, echoed this statement.
“Fortunately, the situations that happen in Jamaica right now, which are now really quite sad, doesn’t necessarily impact the visitor, and that is the reputation we have in the visitor market and with(in) the travel and tourism industry… Our partners, they consider Jamaica a safe destination.”President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Nicola Madden-Greig
What Should Travelers Watch Out For In Jamaica?
Resorts and the areas immediately surrounding them are considered safe, and the risk of a violent crime is very low. The chances of travelers falling victim to a violent crime in Montego Bay, specifically, are quite low. The most likely crime to affect travelers in Montego Bay or other tourist-heavy areas is the same crime travelers should watch out for everywhere else in the world — pickpocketing and petty theft. Keep a close eye on personal belongings when venturing into the city or off-resort property.
Interestingly, Canada’s travel advisory for Jamaica does not say to reconsider travel but, rather, to exercise a high degree of caution. Indeed, travelers should exercise a high degree of caution, but shouldn’t travelers do this no matter where their final destination is? Traveling anywhere requires more situational awareness than everyday life; it just comes with the territory.
How Can Travelers Stay Safe In Jamaica?
Travelers can take several steps to ensure a safe and relaxing visit during their trip to Jamaica. The level of risk for travelers will increase the further they venture into less tourist-centric areas. Violent crime and gang violence do occur, but typically not in the regions that tourists frequent.
Venturing away from these areas into more crime-prone areas is obviously going to increase travelers’ risk. With that in mind, here are several steps travelers can take to avoid falling victim to a crime during a dream vacation to Jamaica.
- Stick To Resorts & Tourist Areas – as stated before, staying within the confines of tourist-centric areas will significantly reduce the risk of becoming a victim of crime. Travelers should still watch out for pickpocketing, however.
- Don’t Walk Alone At Night – if venturing out at night, stick with a group.
- Keep Your Valuables In Your Hotel Safe – wearing flashy jewelry and walking around with lots of cash paints a target on your back. Play it safe and leave valuables in your room.
- Pick Good Travel Insurance – while travel insurance is unlikely to cover any cash losses from a pickpocket, it can be a lifesaver if you are injured or if your passport is stolen. Travel Insurance may cover the cost of a new passport, new flights, and accommodations needed while sorting things out.
Jamaica is one of the most sought-after destinations in the Caribbean, with millions of visitors pouring in year after year. Despite the State Department’s travel advisory, travelers love Jamaica and feel safe traveling there.
As long as travelers are savvy, stick to well-known tourist areas, and are aware of their surroundings, they will surely have the trip of a lifetime in beautiful Jamaica.
Traveler Alert: Don’t Forget Travel Insurance For Your Next Trip!
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com