Americans are being warned about travel to the Bahamas amid an uptick in violent crime.
In a travel advisory issued Friday, the State Department urged travellers to “exercise increased caution.”
Most of the crime has occurred on the islands of New Providence and Grand Bahama, where Nassau and Freeport are respectively located. In Nassau’s Over-The-Hill neighbourhood, “gang-on-gangâ¯violence has resultedâ¯in a high homicide rate primarily affecting the local population,” the advisory states.
According to the US Embassy in the Bahamas, there have been 18 murders in Nassau so far this year, primarily due to “retaliatory gang violence.”
“Murders have occurred at all hours including in broad daylight on the streets,” the embassy said.
There have also been burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assaults “in both touristâ¯and non-touristâ¯areas,” the State Department said.
“Be vigilant when staying at short-term vacation rental propertiesâ¯where private security companies doâ¯not have a presence,” the travel advisory stated.
The State Department also warned travellers against “activities involving commercial recreational watercraft,” noting that they are “not consistently regulated.” Commercial watercraft operators are permitted to “operate their vessels regardless of weather forecasts,” and injuries and deaths have occurred, the department said.
“Watercraftâ¯may be poorlyâ¯maintained,â¯andâ¯some operators may notâ¯have safety certifications,” they said. “Always review and heed local weather and marine alerts before engaging in water-based activities.”
The department also warned travellers not to swim alone, to be mindful of sharks, and to be aware of weather and water conditions.