YAHOO NEWS – For many, a Caribbean vacation remains the stuff of fantasy — especially as the winter months approach and the prospect of snow and freezing temperatures looms on the horizon. But now, an eyebrow-raising number of crime warnings has some rethinking that fantasy and asking the question, “Is the Caribbean safe?”
We got another such warning this week. The Canadian government updated its security advisory for citizens traveling to Barbados. The advisory notes that while “most visits to Barbados are trouble-free,” there are “incidents of crime, including armed robbery and sexual assault.” Most common are “petty crime and crimes of opportunity.” The warning highlights the potential of being robbed while driving and suggests tourists “keep your car doors locked, windows rolled up, and personal belongings, including handbags, safely stored at traffic lights, where you could be a target for thieves.”
Canada’s updated advisory is the latest in a string of recent headlines highlighting concerns about crime in the region. In September, a Nassau newspaper reported that Carnival Cruise Lines was considering issuing crime warnings to passengers traveling to the Bahamas. And a Saint Lucia venders association official accused local leaders of ignoring the island’s crime problem.
Such headlines — and the increasingly dire warnings about popular destinations such as the Bahamas — might lead one to believe that crime is increasing in the region, a potential concern for the roughly 26 million people who visit Caribbean destinations each year.
“Generally speaking, we have seen a slight increase in crime across the region,” Justin Kersey, regional manager for the Americas at international risk management firm iJET, tells Yahoo Travel. “From Barbados to Trinidad to the Dominican Republic, we have seen a little bit of an uptick.” He says the crime increase stems from a regional economic downturn.