This month, the U.S. Department of State joined Canada and the United Kingdom in issuing a travel advisory for Jamaica as the popular Caribbean destination declares a state of emergency due to an increase in violent crime. Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness declared a state of emergency for St. James Parish earlier in January and deployed the local military to the area due to “crime and violence, in particular, murders” escalating in the parish.
Jamaica is now at a level 2 travel advisory and visitors are encouraged to “exercise increased caution” while in the country. The advisory warns visitors to not travel to parts of Kingston and Montego Bay and warns visitors to avoid Spanish Town altogether.
“Violent crime, such as home invasions, armed robberies, and homicide, is common. Sexual assaults occur frequently, even at all-inclusive resorts. Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents,” says a statement on Travel.State.Gov, adding “U.S. government personnel are prohibited from driving outside of Kingston at night.”
So what does the travel advisory mean for those that are already planning a trip to Jamaica?
While travel to the island isn’t prohibited, the Department of State advises travelers to do the following:
Avoid walking or driving at night.
Avoid public buses.
Avoid secluded places or situations, even in resorts.
Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
Be aware of your surroundings and keep a low profile.
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 and Twitter.
Review the Crime and Safety Report for Jamaica.
U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
Tours, cruises and trips are still operating normally in Jamaica, but visitors may notice an increased military presence. Travelers are encouraged to stay close to their resorts and a curfew has been implemented for parts of the country. Visit Travel.State.Gov for more details on the travel advisory.