NASSAU — The Ministry of Tourism & Aviation for The Bahamas has responded to a travel advisory issued by the United States following a recent spate of crime.
The Ministry notes that the advisory remains at a Level Two, recommending caution but not actually urging visitors to delay or cancel their travel plans to the islands.
“We recommend that travellers to any destination maintain awareness of their surroundings and exercise basic precautions, as they likely would in their home cities and when not on holiday,” said the Ministry in a statement.
The statement also notes that the vast majority of the country’s six million annual visitors stay on the island without any incident. According to the Royal Bahamas Police data for 2018, there were only 43 incidents involving tourists, of which 30 involved U.S. nationals and nearly all were minor offences.
The Ministry of Tourism applauds the efforts made by law enforcement, which significantly reduced serious crimes like murder (-25%), armed robber (-18%), attempted robber (-19%) and shoplifting (-23%).
“The safety of residents and visitors is of paramount importance,” said the Ministry. “Efforts to maintain and improve security are a constant priority for Bahamas authorities as is true for all governments.”
Safety and security efforts include the use of CCTV in addition to a heightened police presence with foot, bicycle and motor patrols across all areas referenced in the advisory and tourist areas. Additional Beach Enforcement Officers have also been deployed to beaches, and regular communication is in effect between the Royal Bahamas Police Force Land and Marine Units, Royal Bahamas Defence Force Harbour Patrol Unit, and the Ministry of Tourism to ensure concerns are addressed quickly.
The U.S. Travel Advisory for The Bahamas was issued on Feb. 25 in response to “violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assault,” which the U.S. government said is common, “even during the day and in tourist areas.” The advisory also noted that the vast majority of crime occurs on New Providence and Grand Bahama islands, activities involving commercial recreational watercraft – including water tours – are not consistently regulated, and that “jet-ski operators have been known to commit sexual assaults against tourists.”
The advisory goes on to encourage travellers to “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.”