The US government has issued an advisory warning citizens to ‘reconsider travel’ to the island of Jamaica – a popular Caribbean holiday destination, which recorded over 4.1 million international tourist arrivals in 2023.
The advisory cites the “common” risk of “violent crimes, such as home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides” in Jamaica. It also warns that “sexual assaults occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts”.
The Department of State also reported that “local police often do not respond effectively to serious criminal incidents” and that “when arrests are made, cases are infrequently prosecuted to a conclusive sentence”.
“Families of US citizens killed in accidents or homicides frequently wait a year or more for final death certificates to be issued by Jamaican authorities,” the advisory continued. Meanwhile: “The homicide rate reported by the Government of Jamaica has for several years been among the highest in the Western Hemisphere.”
The advisory also noted that healthcare can vary significantly in terms of quality and responsiveness across the island, and may fall below US standards.
Recommendations for visiting Jamaica
The Department of State “strongly” recommended that citizens visiting Jamaica should obtain travel insurance, including coverage for medical evacuation – adding that the department does not pay medical bills in the event of an incident.
It warned that US Medicare or Medicaid does not apply overseas, and that most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept domestic US health insurance.
Travellers should also avoid walking or driving at night, using public buses, or visiting secluded places. They should also never try to bring firearms or ammunition – including empty shells – into the country or physically resist any robbery attempt.
They should be aware of their surroundings at all times and keep a low profile; enrol in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive updates and make it easier to be located; follow the Department of State on social media for updates; and prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations.
As well as the national level 3 advisory, the department also has several local level 4 – ‘do not travel’ advisories for a number of different areas in Jamaica. Travellers should avoid visiting these areas entirely.
The US Department of State also updated its travel advice for Uganda in June 2023, in response to the implementation of new anti-homosexuality legislation.