US Sends Out a 'Startling' Alert for This Island Nation

Security warning notes that 18 murders have taken place already this year in Nassau in the Bahamas
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2024 10:40 AM CST
US Sends Out a 'Startling' Alert for This Island Nation
Stock photo of Nassau in the Bahamas.   (Getty Images/elvirkin)

It may not actually be better in the Bahamas, at least not at the moment, according to a new security alert. The warning disseminated last week by the US Embassy in Nassau notes there've been 18 murders this year so far in the Bahamian capital alone, and that "murders have occurred at all hours, including in broad daylight on the streets." The embassy points to gang violence as the driving force for the killings. The New York Times calls the alert "startling" and "unusual" for the island nation, which sees about 7 million tourists annually.

The US State Department's travel advisory for the Bahamas remains at a "Level 2" designation—the same as other travel hot spots like Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and parts of Mexico—meaning travelers should simply "exercise increased caution." Level 1 is considered the safest benchmark, with the Times noting that "the majority of visitors to those countries" with a Level 2 label "do not experience any danger." The advisory notes that "the majority of crime" in the Bahamas—including burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assaults—is taking place on the islands of New Providence, where Nassau is located, and Grand Bahama.

If you do decide to venture to the islands, both the US Embassy and the State Department offer a slew of tips to keep tourists safe, per the Times and USA Today. They include keeping under the radar (for example, don't be an obnoxious, loud American tourist) and remaining aware of your surroundings at all times, especially at short-term vacation rental properties that may not have a security presence. They also recommend not opening your door unless it's someone known, and not physically resisting a robbery. The State Department suggests signing up for its Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP, so that you can receive direct information on security updates, and so the US Embassy can track you down in an emergency. (More Bahamas stories.)

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