TAMPA, Fla. - As the spring break travel season draws near, the State Department has issued travel warnings for both the Bahamas and Jamaica.
The warnings come as a result of increased levels of crime in the island nations.
A spike in the murder rate since the start of the year prompted a Level-2 warning for travel to the Bahamas.
While the homicides are believed to be gang-related, the State Department is warning travelers to be on alert, especially in popular destinations like Nassau and Freeport because of concerning levels of violent crime in both tourist and non-tourist areas.
"Certainly drugs, I think intertwined with this, there are certainly gang-related activities, but there's also individual criminality occurring where there have been some sexual assaults or physical assaults, where people are looking to take money, taking valuables," explained former FBI investigator William Daly.
The State Department also cautions travelers planning to stay in hotels or short-term rental properties without private security to be vigilant. Do not answer the door if you do not know who is on the other side.
The level-2 warning also specifically cautions against certain water activities in the Bahamas.
"Activities involving commercial recreational watercraft, including water tours, are not consistently regulated. Watercraft may be poorly maintained, and some operators may not have safety certifications," cautions the State Department.