Jamaica is currently considered the Caribbean’s fastest-growing tourist destination and one of the world’s fastest-recovering nations, as per Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism.
With a startling 69.2% increase in tourist arrivals over 2021, Jamaica saw a notable spike in arrivals from the UK in the second half of 2023. The growth has led to earnings that have broken records and surpassed US $2 billion. This remarkable expansion demonstrates Jamaica’s tourism industry’s tenacity in the face of international difficulties and confirms the island’s position as a top Caribbean travel destination for vacationers from the UK and the US.
Is Jamaica Safe to Visit?
Jamaica is considered a safe place but visitors should only stay in the tourist areas as there is a lot of gang violence and crime in the cities across the country.
Official Travel Advisories for Cuba (U.S., Canada, UK)
U.S. Travel Advisory – Level 3: Reconsider Travel
On January 23, 2024, the U.S. Department of State updated its travel advisory for Jamaica.
Home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides are examples of violent crimes that frequently occur in Jamaica. Sexual assaults happen all the time, even in all-inclusive resorts.
Serious criminal incidents frequently receive inadequate responses from local police. Cases are rarely prosecuted to a definitive sentence after an arrest. Families of American citizens killed in accidents or murders frequently have to wait a year or longer for Jamaican authorities to issue official death certificates. For several years, the Jamaican government has reported having one of the highest homicide rates in the Western Hemisphere. It is forbidden for U.S. government employees under COM security responsibility to drive at night in Kingston outside of designated zones.
Despite the presence of police to deter criminal activity, violent crime, including armed robbery and murder, is a problem in large cities and tourist areas, including parts of Kingston and Montego Bay. Guns are widely available, and they are used in the majority of violent drug- and gang-related crimes, including murder. In these places, there is a chance of getting caught in the crossfire. Travelers are also vulnerable to crimes of opportunity, particularly robberies and thefts.
Although crimes can occur anywhere and at any time, they typically concentrate in areas that the police refer to as “traditional hot spots” or “high-risk communities.”
Though terrorist attacks have not occurred in Jamaica recently, they cannot be completely ruled out.
Increased security measures can be implemented by the government in reaction to violent outbursts and shooting incidents. These can include the military assisting law enforcement or taking their place, as well as sudden curfews. Verify locally if there are any curfews or security measures in place, and follow the authorities’ advice.
Areas to avoid in Jamaica
According to the Canadian government, the following zones have high rates of violent crime and a significant gang population:
Lower Cockburn Gardens
St. Clavers Avenue
Tips on Keeping Safe While Traveling in Jamaica
Refrain from bringing firearms or ammunition. The penalties for carrying such items are severe and may lead to lengthy prison sentences.
Avoid walking or driving during nighttime hours.
Steer clear of public buses.
Stay away from secluded places.
In the event of a robbery attempt, do not physically resist.
Maintain awareness of your surroundings and adopt a low profile.
Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive alerts and facilitate locating you in emergencies.
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