The Bahamas has issued a statement to address travel warnings that were recently placed on the multi-island destination amid a violent wave of crime.
“The Government of The Bahamas is alert, attentive, and proactive to ensure that The Bahamas remains a safe and welcoming destination,” reads the Jan. 30 statement, which notes how the destination welcomed nine million visitors in 2023, “a significant milestone for our nation.”
It directly responds to the United States, which posted a travel alert for the Bahamas last Friday (Jan 26). The U.S. is The Bahamas’ largest international market for tourism.
“The rating of The Bahamas has not changed,” the Bahamian government stated. “We remain a level 2 alongside most tourism destinations. The incidents described in the January 2024 U.S. Embassy crime alert do not reflect general safety in The Bahamas, a country of sixteen tourism destinations, and many more islands.”
Canada issued its own advisory for the Bahamas on Monday (Jan. 29), warning travellers to "exercise a high degree of caution" due to high crime rates, especially in the cities of Nassau (on the island of New Providence) and Freeport (on the island Grand Bahama).
"There has been a decrease in violent crime since the beginning of 2018. Crime, however, including violent crime, still occurs, mainly on the islands of Grand Bahama and New Providence," the notice reads.
"Armed robberies, burglaries, purse snatchings, theft, fraud and sexual assaults are the most common crimes committed against travellers in Freeport and Nassau.”
The warning says to avoid Nassau’s “over the hill” (south of Shirley Street) and Fish Fry (Arawak Cay) areas, especially at night.
Canada’s advisory level is the second of four levels. The first level urges travellers to "take normal security precautions," the second tells them to "exercise a high degree of caution," the third suggests to "avoid non-essential travel" and the fourth says to "avoid all travel."
The U.S. warning says "gang-on-gang violence has resulted in a high homicide rate primarily affecting the local population."
"Murders have occurred at all hours including in broad daylight on the streets," the U.S.-issued advisory reads. "Retaliatory gang violence has been the primary motive in 2024 murders."
The warnings came days after the U.S. embassy in Nassau called attention to 18 murders that occurred in the city since the beginning of the year.
In its statement on Tuesday, the Government of The Bahamas said it is implementing a “robust and innovative crime reduction and prevention strategy.”
The crime-fighting plan will focus on prevention, detection, prosecution, punishment, and rehabilitation, the statements reads.
“Our law enforcement agencies are taking rigorous steps to maintain our well-earned reputation, including an enhanced police presence and additional police resources (including facial recognition CCTV surveillance technology) and training,” the statement reads.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy for firearm possession and a dedicated Magistrate to handle firearm offences.”
“The safety and security of everyone is of paramount importance to us and we are confident that The Bahamas will remain safe and welcoming for millions of visitors to continue to enjoy the magic and beauty of our beautiful islands.”