As travelers are seeking sunny getaways this time of year, the Caribbean is among the best for winter sun.
Most destinations in the region are deemed safe, especially the mega-popular destinations.
However, one popular island is getting a ‘bad rap' with the latest travel advisory warning from the U.S. State Department.
The last thing travelers want to worry about when enjoying a tropical escape is becoming a victim of crime.
Unfortunately, that's just what the U.S. State Department is warning about for tourists in the stunning island of Jamaica.
Level 3: Reconsider Travel
Jamaica has been listed as Level 4: Do Not Travel in the past, but that was largely due to the pandemic. Conditions have improved over the years to lower the level a notch to Level 3.
Essentially, the State Department's job in issuing travel advisories is to inform travelers of their intel.
In turn, travelers can then make their own decision to go forward with their trip or not. Jamaica is a toss-up.
On one hand, a majority of tourists return home unscathed with only glowing reviews of a dreamy beach vacation.
On the other hand, travel advisories are issued for a reason. In this case, Jamaica has been labeled Level 3: Reconsider Travel as of January 23 with the main concerns of “crime and medical services“.
Being a highly sought-after Caribbean island, it's only natural for tourists to want to explore. From the scenic Blue Mountains to incredible beaches wrapped all the way around the country, Jamaica is drop-dead gorgeous.
Most tourists have the time of their lives, but if something were to go wrong, Jamaica isn't equipped to handle certain situations.
With violent crimes often occurring away from tourist zones, they do indeed happen from time to time. In fact, the latest advisory highlights sexual assaults at all-inclusive resorts.
While vacationers are not commonly the target of these heinous crimes, tourists should at least be aware that beneath this paradise lurks a dark underbelly.
Should something happen, the police force and emergency personnel lack the manpower to respond in a timely manner.
Court cases often drag on a year, if not more, and often don't bring justice for any sense of peace for the victim.
The homicide rate reported by the Government of Jamaica actually, is among the highest in the Western Hemisphere.
With emergency medical bills often topping $30,000, the State Department strongly encourages obtaining travel insurance for trips to Jamaica as the condition of medical facilities vary throughout the island and do not accept U.S. health insurance.
Places To Avoid
Let's be real; sometimes, reading through travel advisories can be a real snoozefest. Many travelers don't even bother checking before booking a trip – it's just go, go, go!
But, this one in particular provides really valuable insight into where not to travel. While Jamaica as a whole is categorized as Level 3, certain regions are actually taken a step further where the State Department declares “Do Not Travel” for all U.S. government personnel, which are:
- St. Ann’s Parish
- St. Catherine’s Parish
- All of Clarendon Parish
- St Elizabeth’s Parish
- Hanover Parish
- St. James Parish/Montego Bay
- Kingston and St. Andrew Parish
For more intricate details regarding each location, it's best to read the advisory in full. However, it is worth noting downtown Kingston and parts of Montego Bay were mentioned.
Tips To Remain Safe In Jamaica
Jamaica is tough to pass up, even knowing the potential risks. It's a real shame that such a warm, welcoming country is being overshadowed by violence.
But as the saying goes, “better safe than sorry”, right?
Should you decide to visit Jamaica right now, the State Department offers tips to remain safe as a tourist:
- Stay indoors at night
- Avoid public buses
- Don't stay in secluded areas
- Do not fight back against robbery attempts
- Do not bring firearms into the country; penalties carry severe prison sentences
- Keep a low profile
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Alert Program (STEP)
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.