Bahamas pushes back against US travel advisory, says it remains ‘safe and welcoming’

The Bahamas government says the island nation remains safe for United States tourists despite two alarming travel warnings posted last week.

“The Government of The Bahamas is alert, attentive, and proactive to ensure that the Bahamas remains a safe and welcoming destination,” insists a statement dated Tuesday from the Office of the Prime Minister.

The first warning, called a “security alert,” was issued on Jan. 24 by the U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas. It urged travelers to “exercise extreme caution” when in Nassau in the wake of 18 murders in the city since Jan. 1.

The alert said that murders have occurred “at all hours including in broad daylight on the streets,” primarily because of “retaliatory gang violence.”

Davis’ statement on Tuesday said the government is implementing a “robust and innovative crime prevention strategy” involving “rigorous steps to maintain our well-earned reputation.”

Those steps include an enhanced police presence, additional police resources including facial recognition closed-circuit television surveillance technology, training, and a zero-tolerance policy for firearm possession.

On Sunday, Chrislyn Skippings, chief superintendent of the Royal Bahamas Police Force said nine firearms and 1,500 rounds of ammunition were seized in crime roundups last week, according to the Bahamian outlet

In his statement, Prime Minister Philip Davis said that the murders “do not reflect general safety in The Bahamas, a country of 16 tourism destinations and many more islands.”

Two days after the embassy posted its security alert, the U.S. State Department updated a travel advisory on its website urging visitors to exercise “increased caution due to crime” in the Bahamas.

The advisory identified two areas of Nassau where gang violence has resulted in a high homicide rate “primarily affecting the local population.” It also warned that “violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies and sexual assaults, occur in both tourist and non-tourist areas,” including short-term vacation rental properties without private security.

According to a story by the Nassau Guardian, some U.S. news sources incorrectly reported that the State Department increased its advisory status on Friday from Level 1 to Level 2, which means travelers are urged to “exercise increased caution.”

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Davis’ statement pointed out that “the rating of The Bahamas has not changed; we remain a Level 2 alongside most tourism destinations.”

The Bahamas had been at Level 2 status since 2022 and was first assigned the level in 2018, according to online archives of the Overseas Security Advisory Council, a public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service and security professionals from U.S. organizations operating abroad.

From 2020 to 2022, the nation was at various times assigned Level 3 (“rethink travel”) and Level 4 (“do not travel”) status due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Warnings about crime in the Bahamas go back further. In October 2005, the U.S. Embassy in Nassau warned of an increase in armed robberies in the nation.

The State Department’s Jan. 26 advisory, while citing crime as the reason travelers should exercise increased caution, contained much of the same language as advisories dating to 2018. Additional language was added to reflect water safety concerns due to recent fatal and non-fatal shark attacks, the Nassau Guardian reported.

The Bahamas shares Level 2 status with 71 countries, including several other island nations popular among Western tourists, including the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Philippines, Turks and Caicos Islands, Sri Lanka, and Solomon Islands.

According to the department’s website, 93 of 211 countries enjoy the most lenient advisory status — Level 1, in which travelers are advised to “exercise normal precautions.”

Twenty-four nations are at Level 3, which means tourists should “reconsider travel” to them. They include Colombia, Egypt, Guatemala, Saudi Arabia, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Jamaica’s status was upgraded to Level 3 last week amid a travel advisory stating that violent crimes are common in the nation and sexual assaults occur “frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts.” Law enforcement is often ineffective and the homicide rate has for several years been among the highest in the Western Hemisphere, the advisory said.

Just 19 nations are assigned Level 4 — “Do Not Travel” — status. Among them are Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Russia, Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela.

On Monday, spokespersons for Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise lines, which run frequent trips to the Bahamas from Florida ports, said they are closely monitoring situations on the islands. But neither cruise line announced any itinerary changes.

Christopher Caulfield, owner of, a cruise planning site based in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, said he hasn’t experienced any guest cancellations or concerns from clients since the embassy’s posting.

“I advise clients to take caution (in the Bahamas), as I do with any destination,” Caulfield said by email. “I remind them that cruise lines do everything they can to ensure the safety of their passengers and their ships, and cruising remains a very safe way to travel. If violence escalates and cruise lines feel it is unsafe to travel, they will change the itinerary.”

Ron Hurtibise covers business and consumer issues for the South Florida Sun Sentinel. He can be reached by phone at 954-356-4071, on Twitter @ronhurtibise or by email at