Caribbean Defies Negative Travel Warnings, Visitors Say They Feel Safe

Source: Loop
The Caribbean continues to be a hot destination for visitors even as many countries battle with rising crime.

President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Nicola Madden-Greig presented data from a Mastercard survey at the Caribbean Travel Marketplace on Monday, which showed over 80 per cent of tourists felt safe during their trips to the region.

This data comes as the governments from several source market countries have released advisories urging tourists to reconsider trips to countries such as Jamaica and The Bahamas due to crime.

In January, Jamaica was listed as a Level Three Destination by the US State Department.

Americans were urged to “reconsider travel to Jamaica due to crime and medical services.”

“Violent crimes, such as home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides, are common. Sexual assaults occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts,” the advisory said.

“Local police often do not respond effectively to serious criminal incidents. When arrests are made, cases are infrequently prosecuted to a conclusive sentence. Families of US. citizens killed in accidents or homicides frequently wait a year or more for final death certificates to be issued by Jamaican authorities.”

The State Department advised Americans to avoid taking public buses and walking or driving at night in Jamaica.

The Bahamas was placed on the Level Two list after almost 20 people were murdered within the first few weeks of 2024.

Most of the killings were gang-related.

Americans were told to exercise extreme caution in the tourist hotspots of Nassau and Grand Bahama. They were also warned against participating in water sports as many of the equipment aren’t properly maintained or certified.

Data from travel industry analytics company, ForwardKeys Destination Insights, showed The Bahamas and Jamaica suffered a 24 per cent and 20 per cent drop respectively in visitors from the United States.

However, booking volumes recovered to pre-crisis levels within two weeks in the Bahamas and four to six weeks in Jamaica.

Madden-Greig said a lot of work went into bringing back the business following these advisories.

She noted that region-wide the advisories did not have a major impact on business.

“As a region, while we do have some challenges domestically, we can say in terms of impact on visitors to the region it is negligible. We do have incidents from time to time but with the over 30 odd million visitors that we have coming to the Caribbean region the impact in terms of safety and security is less than point zero, zero per cent. So, I think we are doing extremely well. Our region is extremely safe. We have been welcoming visitors and they have been having a fantastic time,” Madden-Greig stated.

Madden-Greig said the CHTA will continue to work with governments and members to market destinations to ensure they remain attractive and safe for both locals and visitors.

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