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Is Jamaica travel safe? Americans warned to reconsider trips

by Staff

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You may want to reconsider visiting Jamaica.

That’s the warning from the State Department, which is flagging crime and health concerns in the popular Caribbean destination. 

In a travel advisory issued last week, the State Department said: “Violent crimes, such as home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides, are common. Sexual assaults occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts. (And) local police often do not respond effectively to serious criminal incidents.”

In the event of an emergency, the State Department also warned “high level or specialized” health care may not be available across the island nation, and patients may be required to pay for medical care up front.

Is it safe to travel to Jamaica?

The State Department is only asking travelers to reconsider visiting Jamaica. It has not advised Americans to avoid the country, but it does outline some high-risk areas, which certain U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling to due to risk of crime. 

Those areas include but are not limited to all of Montego Bay, downtown Kingston, part of St. Ann’s Parish near Ocho Rios, and certain neighborhoods in Negril.

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What do I need to know before traveling to Jamaica?

Travelers are advised to be aware of their surroundings, to keep a low profile and to avoid public buses, walking or driving at night, secluded situations and resisting attempts at robbery in Jamaica.

Americans are further encouraged to enroll in the State Department’s free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program and to prepare contingency plans for emergencies.

Additionally, in bold font, the advisory adds, “We strongly encourage you to obtain traveler’s insurance, including medical evacuation insurance, before traveling to Jamaica,” as many health care providers overseas won’t accept U.S. health insurance, and neither Medicare nor Medicaid benefits apply abroad.

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