In a blow to the Jamaican tourist industry, the U.S. State Department has updated its travel advice for Jamaica, rating the risk of travel to the Caribbean destination as “Level 3”.
Sexual assaults and some Do Not Travel Zones
Overall, Americans are urged to “reconsider travel” to the island, due to the “common” occurrence of “violent crimes, such as home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides”.
As well as specifically mentioning the risk of sexual assault, even at all-inclusive resorts, the warning also draws attention to some particularly high-risk zones.
Although the overall risk in Jamaica is deemed to be a Level 3, a long list of neighborhoods are rated Level 4, or “Do Not Travel”. The security situation is deemed such a risk in these districts that certain U.S. government personnel are not allowed to visit. At the time of writing, these are as follows:
“St. Ann’s Parish—Do Not Travel
- Steer Town and the Buckfield neighborhood near Ocho Rios
St. Catherine’s Parish—Do Not Travel
- Spanish Town
- Central Village
- Areas within Portmore, including: Naggo Head, New Land, Old Braeton, Portmore Lane, Gregory Park, and Waterford
All of Clarendon Parish—Do Not Travel
- All of Clarendon Parish, except passing through Clarendon Parish using the T1 and A2 highways.
St. Elizabeth’s Parish—Do Not Travel
- Vineyard District Community, between the communities of Salt Spring and Burnt Savanna, St. Elizabeth
Hanover Parish—Do Not Travel
- Logwood and Orange Bay
St. James Parish/Montego Bay—Do Not Travel
- All of Montego Bay on the inland side of the A1 highway and The Queen’s Drive from San San to Harmony Beach Park
Kingston and St. Andrew Parish—Do Not Travel
- Cassava Piece
- Downtown Kingston, defined as between Mountain View Avenue and Hagley Park Road, and south of Half Way Tree and Old Hope Roads. Downtown Kingston includes Arnett Gardens, Cockburn Gardens, Denham Town, Olympic Gardens, Seaview Gardens, Trench Town, and Tivoli Gardens.
- Duhaney Park
- Grants Pen
- Elleston Flats
- August Town
Manchester Parish—Do Not Travel
- Green Vale, Gray Ground, Red Ground, and Vineyard neighborhoods of Mandeville
St. Thomas Parish—Do Not Travel
- Black Lane neighborhood in Seaforth
- Grands Penn
- Church Corner neighborhood near Yallahs
- Town of Yallahs, except when driving through on the main highway
Trelawny Parish—Do Not Travel
- Clarks Town
Westmoreland Parish—Do Not Travel
- Russia community in Savanna-la-Mar (The Southeastern quadrant of Savannah la Mar east of Darling Street and south of the A2 highway/Barracks Road)
- Morgan Bay
- Kings Valley
- The Whitehall, Bethel Town, and Red Ground neighborhoods of Negril”
The importance of insurance
Holidaymakers going to Jamaica are also advised to ensure they have their own comprehensive medical insurance. The warnings point out that US insurers and Medicaid are not accepted in Jamaica, that criminality frequently goes unpunished and that US citizens have found that death certificates can be difficult to obtain.
Come with confidence?
While both the US State department and the US Embassy in Jamaica published the same advisory, the Jamaican tourist board gave a more nuanced view, saying “there are very distinctly defined areas within Jamaica that the advisory cites as having high risk for crime, so the majority of the island’s tourism product remains unaffected.”
“Visitors can continue to come with confidence to enjoy all that Jamaica has to offer,” the tourism board added.
The board ran a high-profile campaign last year, using locals to promote and celebrate the hospitality and atmosphere of the island.