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US issues travel advisory for Bahamas, Jamaica
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US issues travel advisory for Bahamas, Jamaica

Feb 5, 2024

Cleveland-based travel agent Dr. Jasmien Lewis says clients have reached out with concerns about their bookings.

CLEVELAND — The U.S. Department of State is warning Americans about traveling to two popular vacation destinations.�

The government agency issued a Level 2 travel advisory for The Bahamas, urging travelers to exercise increased caution in the island country due to the crime. According to the U.S. Embassy in The Bahamas, 18 people have been murdered in Nassau just this month — primarily among the local population — with a spike in burglaries and armed robberies in local and tourist areas.

The security alert also specifically said jet ski operators have been known to sexually assault tourists.

“Be cautious, be aware of your surroundings, make sure you always have a photo copy or a picture on your phone of your passport, so if it does get stolen, you still have identification,” Dr. Jasmien Lewis said.

Lewis is a travel agent and the owner of Travel Life Services. She tells 3News a number of her clients have additionally called with concerns about Jamaica.

The state department also issued an even higher Level 3 travel advisory for Jamaica�that states people should reconsider traveling there due to concerns with crime and medical services. The alert says armed robberies and homicides are common and sexual assaults frequently happen at all-inclusive resorts, with a lack adequate of police response.

Officials wrote that “when arrests are made, cases are infrequently prosecuted to a conclusive sentence. Families of U.S. citizens killed in accidents or homicides frequently wait a year or more for final death certificates to be issued by Jamaican authorities.”

Hospital care and emergency services vary around the country, and the quality of care may not be at the same level of U.S. standards as public hospitals are under-resourced and private hospitals require upfront payment before admitting patients.

“Making sure you bring medical or fist aid kits [is important], because a lot of [places in] Jamaica and the Bahamas, especially, are having these issues come about,” Lewis warned. “And they are hindering some of medical services that they’re able to provide.”

Still, travel nurse Jayla Warner, from Copley, says she is not terribly concerned about the warnings.

“I just feel like you hear that about every place and you have to be on alert wherever you go,” she stated. “I mean, it is more alarming. You have to keep your guard up a little bit more if you want to go to Jamaica or Bahamas. But it’s like, I can’t let that stop the fun.”

On the other side, Donald Gallick, of Akron, says he always checks the state department’s warnings before booking a trip.

“Even if you’re going to a country that you’ve been to before, things change, politics change, weather changes, and just spending 5 or 10 minutes of research, you can avoid some surprises,” Gallick said.

The advisory also says to be vigilant when staying at short-term vacation rental properties since those lack the same security as hotels and resorts. It also suggests traveler’s insurance, including medical coverage.

Lewis adds if you still want to go to The Bahamas or Jamaica, you might want to push your date back.

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