US issues travel alert for Bahamas amid increase in crime

(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Department of State has issued a new warning for American travelers headed to the Bahamas due to violent crime that has impacted the local population.

The advisory, issued on Jan. 26, urged travelers to “exercise increased caution” should they decide to visit the Caribbean country.

What to know about US travel advisory for the Bahamas

According to the State Department, the majority of crime — which includes burglaries, armed robberies and sexual assaults — has occurred on the island of New Providence, home of the Bahamian capital of Nassau, and on the island of Grand Bahama.

“In Nassau, practice increased vigilance in the ‘Over the Hill’ area (south of Shirley Street) where gang-on-gang violence has resulted in a high homicide rate primarily affecting the local population,” the government alert states.

Violent crime has been happening “in both tourist and non-tourist areas,” according to the alert, so the State Department is urging travelers to “be vigilant when staying at short-term vacation rental properties where private security companies do not have a presence.”

The State Department also suggested that U.S. travelers steer clear of activities like boat tours with commercial recreational watercraft because they are “not consistently regulated.”

“Watercraft may be poorly maintained, and some operators may not have safety certifications. Always review and heed local weather and marine alerts before engaging in water-based activities,” according to the State Department. “Commercial watercraft operators have discretion to operate their vessels regardless of weather forecasts; injuries and fatalities have occurred. Due to these safety concerns, U.S. government personnel are not permitted to use independently operated jet-ski rentals on New Providence and Paradise Islands.”

Click here for additional travel information on the country information page.

The U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas also issued a security alert on Wednesday, advising “U.S. citizens to be aware that 18 murders have occurred in Nassau since the beginning of 2024.”

“Murders have occurred at all hours including in broad daylight on the streets,” the statement declared. “Retaliatory gang violence has been the primary motive in 2024 murders.”

Safety tips for travel to the Bahamas

If you do decide to travel to the Bahamas, the State Department shared a checklist of dos and don’ts to help Americans stay safe.

  • Do not answer your door at your hotel/residence unless you know who it is.
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Review the Country Security Report for the Bahamas.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency and medical situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel.

The embassy in Nassau also issued its own list of safety precautions for U.S. travelers.

  • Exercise extreme caution in the eastern part of New Providence Island (Nassau).
  • Use caution when walking or driving at night.
  • Keep a low profile.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
  • Review your personal security plans.

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