The US government is cautioning Americans that if they visit Jamaica they could be at risk of sexual assault and homicide

Montego Bay, Jamaica.

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Montego Bay, Jamaica.
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Alison Wright/Getty

  • The US Department of State issued a level-two travel advisory for Jamaica on Friday.
  • The advisory describes “violent crime,” including sexual assaults and homicides, as “common.”
  • US government personnel are barred from driving outside certain neighborhoods of Kingston, the country’s capital and largest city, at night, the advisory says.
  • Fifty-seven other countries have a level-two travel advisory from the State Department, including Antarctica because of unpredictable weather.

The US Department of State on Friday issued a level-two travel advisory for Jamaica, telling travelers to “exercise increased caution.” There are four advisory levels, ranging from “exercise normal precautions” to “do not travel.”

The advisory says that “violent crime, such as home invasions, armed robberies, and homicide is common” in Jamaica, as well as that “sexual assaults occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts.”

Some 4.3 million tourists visited Jamaica in 2017, a record for the Caribbean island nation. But in recent months, reports of violent crime directed at tourists in Jamaica have surfaced.

In an investigation by the Detroit Free Press published in November, several women said that they were sexually assaulted at Sandals Resorts properties in Jamaica and that they were asked to not report them in exchange for free stays and other compensation.

Earlier this year, an elderly Canadian couple were found dead in their vacation home in Jamaica. They are thought to have been killed.

The State Department’s advisory says to avoid Spanish Town, as well as certain neighborhoods of Kingston and Montego Bay where “violence and shootings occur regularly.” It also says US government personnel are barred from driving outside some Kingston neighborhoods at night.

“Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents,” it says.

According to United Nations data, the homicide rate in Jamaica ranks at 47 murders per 100,000 individuals, down from 61 in 2005. That’s similar to the murder rates in Detroit and Baltimore, according to FBI data. Jamaica doesn’t publish crime statistics on individual cities.

It was ranked as the No. 16 most dangerous city in the world this year, between Cape Town, South Africa, and San Salvador, El Salvador.

Canada has also advised citizens who visit Jamaica to “exercise a high degree of caution” because of violent crime. The UK has a similar advisory, though it says most visits to Jamaica are “trouble-free.”

Read more: The US government is warning Americans that if they visit the Bahamas they could be at risk of sexual assault and violent crime

The State Department has level-two travel advisories for 57 other countries, including France, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands. Those advisories mostly cite an uptick in terrorism concerns in Western Europe.

Antarctica also has a level-two travel advisory because of “environmental hazards posed by extreme and unpredictable weather.”

There are 15 level-three advisories and 13 level-four advisories, including a caution against all travel to Haiti because of “crime and civil unrest.” The State Department advises visitors to Haiti to get travel and medical-evacuation insurance before they go and ensure they are not being followed when they leave the airport.