The U.S. advises reconsidering travel to Jamaica, contrary to Jamaican officials. Jamaican authorities are resisting the recent travel advisory from the U.S. Department of State concerning the island.
This advisory, reissued in January, cites "crime and medical services" as concerns. Despite being classified at Level 3, urging travelers to "reconsider travel," Jamaica remains just one level away from the most severe warning.
“In recent years, the government has more than doubled its investments to strengthen our capacity to tackle crime and health-related challenges across the island for the benefit of our citizens and indeed everyone who wishes to visit Jamaica,” said Jamaican Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Johnson Smith in a press release. Jamaica is listed as one of the top honeymoon destinations for U.S. residents, according to Tripadvisor.
According to the State Department, Jamaican local authorities are criticized for their inadequate response to serious crimes such as robberies and assaults. The statement highlights that sexual assaults are a frequent occurrence, even within all-inclusive resorts, and mentions Jamaica's high homicide rate, which is among the highest in the Western Hemisphere.
Jamaica has maintained its Level 3 designation since 2022. However, Jamaican officials caution that while certain areas of the country may pose a higher risk for crime, tourists typically don't encounter such issues firsthand. The Jamaican Tourist Board informed NPRthat the overall crime rate against visitors to Jamaica remains extremely low, at just 0.01%. A small waterfall in Jamaica
The advisory notes that families of U.S. citizens who have been killed on the island often face significant delays, sometimes waiting for over a year to receive their loved one's death certificate. Additionally, U.S. government personnel are personally prohibited from using public buses and driving outside certain areas of Kingston, the Jamaican capital, after dark.
Regarding medical care, the advisory suggests that hospital services in Jamaica may not meet timely or quality standards compared to those in the U.S.
Following the State Department's decision, Smith expressed Jamaica's disappointment, stating that the U.S. had not acknowledged the country's efforts to enhance safety. Smith emphasized ongoing improvements, including a more than 20 percent decrease in serious crimes and notable progress in arrests and prosecutions.
However, he acknowledged that more work is needed to achieve the desired outcomes. According to the Jamaica Constabulary Force, there were 83 murders in Jamaica during the first month of 2024, a decrease from the 109 reported during the same period in 2023.
Tourism is a vital sector for Jamaica, contributing over 30% to the country's economic output before the pandemic hit. Jamaican Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, highlighted the industry's potential to positively impact the nation, communities, and the lives of Jamaican people. Despite facing a Level 4 travel advisory during the pandemic due to high COVID-19 levels, Jamaica is now encouraging travelers to visit the island.
Last year, Jamaica welcomed 4.1 million visitors, according to the Jamaica Tourist Board. They emphasized that travelers can confidently enjoy all that Jamaica has to offer.
Those intending to visit the Caribbean destination were advised against walking or driving at night, using public buses, or venturing into secluded areas. They were also cautioned not to resist if faced with robbery attempts.
The State Department specified that U.S. government employees were barred from traveling to various parishes due to high crime rates. These include much of downtown Kingston, St. Andrew Parish, Westmoreland Parish, among others. You can find the detailed list of neighborhoods here.
“In recent years, the Government has more than doubled its investments to strengthen our capacity to tackle crime and health-related challenges across the island for the benefit of our citizens and indeed everyone who wishes to visit Jamaica,” said Jamaican Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Johnson Smith in a press release. Jamaica is listed as one of the top honeymoon destinations for U.S. residents, according to Tripadvisor.