Bad news for The Bahamas. The US State Department issued a travel advisory warning for visitors to The Bahamas this week. The US issued a level 2 travel advisory warning, urging visitors to exercise increased caution when visiting.
This travel advisor is due to increased crime, including burglaries, robberies, and sexual assault. Many of these are happening in daylight in tourist-heavy areas.
In addition to crime, the US also cites The Bahamas unregulated recreation water crafts. Many have been wondering if the tragic Four C’s boat explosion would impact tourism from the US. While the Bahamian government has begun to establish a boat safety task force, many commercial charters are still operating without registration and inspection.
These inconsistently regulated water tours have been a big concern for years. The Bahamas Port Department is understaffed and outdated. There is no electronic system or way for tourists to check which boat tours are registered. The Four C’s boat explosion made international headlines, but it’s not the first instance of tourists suffering from mismanagement. Last spring eight tourists got stranded at sea after their unlicensed tour boat ran out of gas after getting lost on the way to visit the famous swimming pigs.
The travel advisory also cites cases of Jet Ski operators sexually assaulting tourists.
The good news for Exuma is that most of this crime is not happening on the family islands. The majority of the crime is occurring on New Providence and Grand Bahamas islands. US government officials are not even permitted to visit Nassau’s Sand Trap area due to safety concerns.
This travel advisory should be a wake-up call for The Bahamas. Tourism alone makes up an estimated 60% of the nation’s GDP. While there is no simple solution to lowering crime rates, there is an easy answer to fixing the unregulated tour boats.
Tourism has been exploding in The Bahamas, especially on the family islands in recent years. Outdated or nonexistence facilities such as airports and hospitals are beginning to impact tourism as well. It took the disastrous Fyre Festival, where stranded attendees were locked in the poorly maintained Exuma Airport, for the government to agree to upgrade it.
This is the third travel warning issued for the Bahamas in the last year from the US and Canada. Hopefully, the Bahamas will listen this time.