Canada issues travel warnings to Bahamas, Cuba, and other tropical hot spots

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Published June 8, 2024 at 6:10 pm

Canada issues travel advisories to these tropical hot spots

If you’re looking to escape Ontario’s rainy spring season for a warmer and tropical destination, it’s advisable to check the latest travel advisories first.

The Government of Canada offers a Travel Advice and Advisories page, providing essential information to help travellers make safe decisions when visiting abroad.

Here are some of the countries with updated advisories:


Bahamas

Risks: High rates of crime, especially in Freeport and Nassau.

Reasons: Armed robberies, burglaries, purse snatchings, theft, fraud and sexual assaults are the most common crimes committed against travellers in Freeport and Nassau.

Robberies can also occur in cruise ship terminals and in and around popular resort areas, even during daylight hours. Crime increases during the holidays.

The advisory suggests travellers avoid the “over the hill” (south of Shirley Street) and Fish Fry (Arawak Cay) areas, especially at night. People should not walk alone, particularly at night, and always stay alert. If robbers threaten you, stay calm and don’t resist.


Cuba

Risks: Petty crime, assaults and thefts from hotel rooms.

Reasons: Shortages of basic necessities including food, medicine and fuel.

The critical fuel shortages impact a wide range of services, making travel across the island extremely challenging.

Public transportation, including taxis, is often disrupted, leaving tourists with limited options for movement.

Some travellers have faced temporary stranded situations with rental cars. Even in Havana and resorts, intermittent tap water shortages add to the challenges.

Hotels and resorts, reliant on generators during power outages, may struggle to maintain their services. Fuel shortages can also affect government services.

Local authorities enforce rationing of food and medications, potentially affecting travellers.

Tourists are urged to bring basic necessities like toiletries and medication, maintain a supply of water, food, and fuel, and ensure access to a complete emergency kit.

Petty crime can happen to foreigners in these areas:

  • Markets
  • Public buses
  • Night clubs
  • Beaches

Jamaica

Risks: High level of violent crime.

Reasons: Despite the presence of police to counter armed robbery, sexual assaults and murder, crimes of this nature are a problem in large cities and tourist areas.

This can be attributed to the widespread availability of firearms, which are used in most drug and gang-related crimes.

Nearly 50 areas in Greater Kingston, St. Catherine, Montego Bay and South Coast have a significant gang population where tourists are at risk of becoming victims of petty crime such as pickpocketing and bag snatching.


Guyana

Risks: High level of crime.

Reason: Tensions over the Guyana Essequibo region could lead to deteriorating security along the Venezuela-Guyana border.

If you choose to travel in this area:

  • Exercise caution at all times
  • Monitor local media for updates
  • Follow instructions from local authorities and security forces

In addition, foreigners and returning citizens are common targets for pickpockets and purse-snatchers.

Visitors are asked to exercise increased caution in Georgetown, particularly in the following neighbourhoods:

  • The area 2 km south of Brickdam Street
  • Agricola
  • Albouystown
  • Albertown
  • Bourda
  • Buxton
  • East Ruimveldt
  • Sophia
  • Stabroek
  • Tiger Bay
  • West Ruimveldt

Violent crime is widespread throughout Guyana and is often linked to illegal drug trafficking. Common criminal activities include homicides, assaults, home burglaries, armed robberies, and car thefts.

Criminals frequently operate in groups of two or more, watching their targets for days before taking action.

Foreigners have been victims of armed robberies and attacks, especially after withdrawing money from banks, shopping in commercial areas, or staying at hotels.

Criminals often target the following tourist sites:

  • Stabroek Market
  • Bourda Market
  • Botanical Gardens
  • the National Park
  • the sea wall

Dominican Republic

As of March 5, 2024, the Dominican Republic has closed its air border with Haiti. Land and sea borders with Haiti also remain closed to travellers.

It’s essential to be aware that the Embassy of Canada in Santo Domingo cannot assist in crossing into the Dominican Republic from Haiti through land or sea routes.

Risks: High levels of caution due to crime.

Reasons: Petty crimes like pickpocketing and bag snatching are common with tourists often being the targets. These incidents tend to increase during holiday periods.

Thefts can happen in various locations, including resorts, beaches, airports, bus stations, and public transportation. Even all-inclusive hotel rooms and hotel room safes are not immune to theft. Rental cars are also frequent targets.

There are instances of drive-by robberies, where thieves on motorcycles, scooters, or bicycles snatch bags and valuables from pedestrians. They may also reach into vehicles, including taxis, stopped at red lights to steal belongings.


Belize

Risks: High level of violent crime.

Reason: The rise in violent crimes poses a significant concern throughout the region as Belize has one of the highest murder rates per person in the world.

The widespread issues of drug and human trafficking, organized criminal activities, and street gang presence worsen the problem. Common acts of violence include murders, armed robberies, home invasions, muggings, and sexual assaults.

There has also been a noticeable increase of incidents targeting foreign residents, such as break-ins and physical attacks.

Tourists are advised to avoid non-essential travel to the southside of Belize city due to gang and drug related violence.


Mexico

Risks: High levels of criminal activity and kidnapping.

Reasons: Violent crime can be found throughout Mexico, including homicides, kidnappings, and assaults. Sometimes, these crimes happen at popular tourist destinations such as the Mayan Riviera (Cancún, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos and Tulum) and Acapulco.

In addition, general elections are set for June 2, 2024. Around this time, there could be demonstrations, potential road closures, and a noticeable increase in military and police presence. Foreigners participating in protests also risk deportation.

To ensure safety, travellers are advised to avoid large gatherings, follow local authority guidelines, and stay updated with local media for news regarding the demonstrations.

Tourists can also fall victim to extortions through virtual kidnappings, where criminals find out enough personal information about their victims and then contact the target’s loved ones, claiming to have taken them hostage. Express kidnapping is also a tactic used where the victim is abducted and a small immediate ransom is demanded.

Criminal groups including drug cartels, are very active. ‎Clashes between cartels or gangs over territory, drugs and smuggling routes are common.

A regional advisory is in effect for Mexico, and it includes the following areas:

  • Chihuahua, Colima (except the city of Manzanillo), Coahuila, Durango, Guerrero, Michoacán (except the city of Morelia), Morelos, Nayarit, Nuevo León (except the city of Monterrey), Sinaloa (except the city of Mazatlán), Sonora, (except the cities of Hermosillo and Guaymas/San Carlos and Puerto Peñasco), Tamaulipas, and  Zacatecas.

 

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