(CMR) The US Department of State on Friday issued a level-two travel advisory for Jamaica, telling travelers to “exercise increased caution.” There are four advisory levels, ranging from “exercise normal precautions” to “do not travel.”
The advisory says that “violent crime, such as home invasions, armed robberies, and homicide is common” in Jamaica, as well as that “sexual assaults occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts.”
Some 4.3 million tourists visited Jamaica in 2017, a record for the Caribbean island nation. But in recent months, reports of violent crime directed at tourists in Jamaica have surfaced.
In an investigation by the Detroit Free Press published in November, several women said that they were sexually assaulted at Sandals Resorts properties in Jamaica and that they were asked to not report them in exchange for free stays and other compensation.
Earlier this year, an elderly Canadian couple were found dead in their vacation home in Jamaica. They are thought to have been killed.
The State Department’s advisory says to avoid Spanish Town, as well as certain neighborhoods of Kingston and Montego Bay where “violence and shootings occur regularly.” It also says US government personnel are barred from driving outside some Kingston neighborhoods at night.
“Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents,” it says.
According to United Nations data, the homicide rate in Jamaica ranks at 47 murders per 100,000 individuals, down from 61 in 2005. That’s similar to the murder rates in Detroit and Baltimore, according to FBI data. Jamaica doesn’t publish crime statistics on individual cities.
It was ranked as the No. 16 most dangerous city in the world this year, between Cape Town, South Africa, and San Salvador, El Salvador.
Canada has also advised citizens who visit Jamaica to “exercise a high degree of caution” because of violent crime. The UK has a similar advisory, though it says most visits to Jamaica are “trouble-free.”