The Bahamas is a “safe” destination for tourists, the country’s government insisted this week after the US embassy sounded the alarm over deadly gang violence in the vacation hotspot.
Bahamian Prime Minister Philip Davis said in a Tuesday statement the government is “alert, attentive, and proactive” in keeping the island nation “welcoming” to travelers, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Davis’ comments came after the US embassy issued a stark security warning and travel advisory on Jan. 24 after the Bahamas saw 18 primarily gang-related murders in January.
“The rating of the Bahamas has not changed; we remain a Level 2 alongside most tourism destinations,” Davis reportedly said in his statement.
“The incidents described in the January 2024 US Embassy crime alert do not reflect general safety in The Bahamas, a country of sixteen (16) tourism destinations, and many more islands.”
The Bahamas has been rated a Level 2 since 2022 and was first assigned a level in 2018, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
The US embassy warning urged travelers to “exercise extreme caution” on the eastern side of the Bahamas’ capital city of Nassau.
It also advised Americans to be especially vigilant at nighttime and “keep a low profile” always.
Davis said the government is implementing a “robust and innovative crime prevention strategy” — including additional police resources and a zero-tolerance policy for firearm possession, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
The Royal Bahamas Police Force said it collected nine firearms and 1,500 rounds of ammunition last week.
Despite the rise in crime, the Bahamas is more popular than ever among tourists, as the tropical island saw more than eight million visitors last year, according to Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper.
“The year 2023 was a banner year in tourism,” Cooper said at an event in Florida.