Trinidad and Tobago is a country that consists of the two Caribbean islands that are featured in its name. Although part of the same country, these islands offer very different experiences for travelers. Trinidad, which is the larger of the two, is a popular destination for shopping and sightseeing, and it also has a vibrant nightlife scene. Tobago, on the other hand, offers the white-sand palm-fringed beaches Caribbean islands are known for.
Unfortunately, Trinidad and Tobago is not a safe traveling destination at the moment because of high levels of violent crime. Read on to find out more about safety in the country.
Should Tourists Travel To Trinidad and Tobago?
Most governments have issued warnings against traveling to Trinidad and Tobago. The U.S. has listed the country as a “Level 3: Reconsider travel” destination. Similar warnings can be found on the government websites of other countries.
However, some countries make a distinction between traveling to Trinidad as opposed to traveling to Tobago. The U.K., for instance, warns its citizens about high and increasing crime levels in Trinidad, while stating that incidents of violent crime are rare in Tobago. Visitors, however, should still be careful.
Why is Trinidad and Tobago Unsafe?
It’s interesting to note that the crime in Trinidad and Tobago is not due to a poor economy. The country is a major regional producer of oil and gas, which makes it one of the richest countries in the Caribbean.
The high crime rate in Trinidad and Tobago is mostly due to two factors. First, because the country is located close to the South American coast, it forms an important hub between North and South America.
Secondly, the country’s close proximity to Venezuela means that the violent situation in the latter spills over into Trinidad and Tobago. A notable percentage of the weapons and drugs that pass through the country comes from Venezuela.
Crime in Trinidad and Tobago
While tourists in Trinidad and Tobago are often exposed to petty crime such as pickpocketing and theft, they can also become the victims of violent crime. Unfortunately, crimes of all kinds are rife in the country.
World Population Review states that Trinidad and Tobago is rated sixth in the world when it comes to crime, while Insight Crime notes that the murder rate has increased by 22% in 2022 compared to 2021. While most of the violent crime in the country is due to gang activity and drug trafficking, criminals also often target tourists since they are regarded as lucrative prey.
Tourists are not only robbed but are sometimes also kidnapped for ransom money. Highway robberies are another threat. Other forms of violent crime that tourists should be aware of include murder, assault, and rape.
Areas To Avoid in Trinidad and Tobago
As is the case with many other tourist destinations, some areas are deemed less safe than others in Trinidad and Tobago. While you should still practice caution, Tobago, for instance, is a much safer island to travel to than Trinidad.
In Trinidad itself, dangerous neighborhoods that should be avoided include Laventille, Beetham Gardens, Sea Lots, Cocorite, Carenage, and Morvant. You also don’t want to hang out in many areas at night, including the Fort George overlook, downtown Port of Spain, and all the beaches.
It’s best to avoid any deserted areas, such as Queen’s Park Savannah during weekdays or isolated beaches like Englishman’s Bays. Also, take note that Beetham Highway is a hot spot for carjackings and kidnappings.
Safety Measures To Keep in Mind
If you feel that you want to visit Trinidad and Tobago despite safety warnings, here are a few precautionary steps you can keep in mind:
- Book accommodation that’s in a good area and has proper security.
- Don’t flaunt valuable belongings when out in public.
- Don’t buy drugs or any other illegal items while in the country. Apart from the fact that penalties for drug offences are quite harsh, you don’t want to get close to any gangs.
- Only carry the cash around with you that you need for the day.
- It’s safest to travel around in groups.