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US State Department Travel Advisory for Bahamas: What it really means for visitors?

bahamas
bahamas

The recent travel advisory issued by the U.S. State Department alerting the 6 million US travelers vacationing in the Bahamas every year could have a devastating impact on the travel and tourism industry of the Island Nation. Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas is less than an hour flight from Miami.

The Bahamas is now under a level 2 alert according to the United States Government. The Bahamas is joining Germany, U.K. or Indonesia among many other countries.

Realistically it should not be a reason for serious concern, but with so many US citizens traveling to this island nation every day, even a level 2 advisory can have serious consequences for the visitors’ industry of the country. Travel and Tourism is also the largest industry in the Bahamas.

Realistically a level 3 classification has more serious concerns. Turkey, for example, is under a level 3 advisory, but it’s all about perception and the enormous news coverage such an increase is likely to get.

The reason for such a peaceful island nation to have a slightly elevated security rating is based on crime statistics.

Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assault, is common, even during the day and in tourist areas. Although the family islands are not crime-free, the vast majority of crime occurs on New Providence and Grand Bahama islands. U.S. government personnel are not permitted to visit the Sand Trap area in Nassau due to crime. Activities involving commercial recreational watercraft, including water tours, are not consistently regulated. Watercraft are often not maintained, and many companies do not have safety certifications to operate in The Bahamas. Jet-ski operators have been known to commit sexual assaults against tourists.  As a result, U.S. government personnel are not permitted to use jet-ski rentals on New Providence and Paradise Islands.

The United States is telling their  citizens:

  • Exercise caution in the area known as “Over the Hill” (south of Shirley Street) and the Fish Fry at Arawak Cay in Nassau, especially at night.
  • Do not answer your door at your hotel/residence unless you know who it is.
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for The Bahamas.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency and medical situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

The Bahamas is a coral-based archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. Its 700-plus islands and cays range from uninhabited to packed with resorts. The northernmost, Grand Bahama, and Paradise Island, home to many large-scale hotels, are among the best known. Scuba diving and snorkeling sites include the massive Andros Barrier Reef, Thunderball Grotto (used in James Bond films) and the black-coral gardens off Bimini.