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The complexity of the Caribbean island’s beauty and safety list

Hovering above the sand

By RD Miller

Every year, various travel and marketing companies publish a list of the most amazing and safest places to visit:

I recently came across Off Path’s travel list, which included some of the safest Caribbean countries to visit: Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, and the Grenadines.

In January 2024, the U. S. State Department issued an advisory about a wave of crime in Jamaica and the Bahamas, where burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assaults occur in both tourist and non-tourist areas. Short-term holiday rentals are especially risky without sufficient security.

These two popular tourist destinations have a long history with the slave trade, have had an enormous historical impact, and are well-known for their inviting attitude and stunning beauty.

These islands have a lot in common: beautiful private beaches, dwindling public beaches, a diverse population, excellent cuisine, a lively atmosphere, and a variety of activities.

However, it is unsurprising that many of the safest islands keep close ties to their old colonial masters.

Here are a few reasons for their ongoing alternative list:

There is often discussion regarding which island is the safest or best maintained in the region, whether subjectively or objectively. The argument continues like the waves hitting the shore. 

Still, the question remains: are some of the islands on the list of safety concerns, even those omitted from the list doing better socioeconomically now that the colonial chain has been severed?

Island rating frequently varies. For some, long wait to access their money at an ATM or bank, faith in the financial or political system, or navigating a complex healthcare system to receive medical attention, yet for others, it is simply life and another day.

Some people may advocate for specific places that were left off the list due to positive experiences they had during a brief visit or other personal circumstances.

Victims of crime or those who attended the funeral of a loved one or friend who died in a tragic act of violence may have a different perspective, even if the cases are closed or still in the “we’re working on it files.”

Travel advice is an important resource, just like reviews for a local restaurant, buying a car, electronics, or booking a hotel room.

Beyond the paper and score list.

There is a debate among individuals about the possibility of reintroducing a colonial system that may limit freedoms or proposing reparations for generations impacted by colonialism to potentially bring positive change. 

Regardless of one’s perspective, even if certain islands did not make Santa’s nice list, there are still persistent difficulties.

Today, its impact can be seen in a variety of ways, including gender, race, socioeconomic class, land, sexual orientation, gender bias, culture, colorism, and hierarchical systems. 

Dealing with challenges since gaining independence has been a significant endeavor. These include tackling criminal activities, mental health issues, substance abuse, gender bias, violence (particularly against women), a deteriorating educational system, inadequate leadership to uplift people from poverty, and a persistent conflict between political factions on certain islands, likened to a volatile volcano according to  experts. 

However, there are still plenty of friendly faces and good vibes, and maybe sometimes it’s just a coping mechanism because the welcome mat features don’t always match up with the reality on the ground.

Emphasizing pride and the positive image associated with patriotism, are good qualities, but also appear to be their downfall that may sometimes overwhelm the imperative of balancing safety in numbers, which involves addressing poverty, inequality and as some locals noted, injustice.

Maybe you’re preparing to land.

The reality is that enjoying some of these islands’ laid-back attitudes and endless activities is becoming simply on paper, or an imagination from ads.

Despite the constant comparisons and blame games, there will always be room for improvement and self-assessment to strive for better.

Fortunately, you have an option despite the cautions. Many are still tied to a compass molded by internal variables such as heritage, traditions, allegiance, or brand loyalty.

Unfortunately, certain places now function as a brand, increasing the growing disparity between the privileged and the underprivileged. Today, it appears that only those with the means to invest in an exclusive zone may truly appreciate its beauty and feel secure.

Let’s take a walk on the beach or dance on a tightrope.

According to reports, many youngsters who lack the resources to address their problems may be contributing to the violence epidemic.  It is critical to address long-standing criminal concerns and inadequate measures.

There are still travelers at airports and ship docks, but some are now at a crossroads, debating whether to take the risk to visit the sunny destinations facing these challenges.

Despite decades of promises by some leaders to alleviate poverty and improve safety, it is difficult to determine whether things have improved.

Being on the list has the potential to cause long-term consequences. Businesses may limit investment and travel, resulting in increased unemployment and a negative impact on middle class and working people.

Today, inflation is not the only concern for many budget-conscious visitors or expats returning; they may confront unexpected expenses, and those who want to stretch their disposable cash outside the exclusive zone should now proceed with extreme caution.

Global price increases have resulted in many people covering the prices for individuals who can no longer afford their normal brands, vacations, or staying out due to headlines.

Who gets caught in the waves?

According to economists, in an area where a substantial portion of your GDP is based on the full landing package, the selling of only half of its image is an unsustainable long-term approach.

If they cough and you know you can develop a cold, consider always making sure  your country’s safety mask is on.

A secure service sector and commerce are linked like a teacher to students, like a river that flows through the hills and valleys. If it dries up, many people will suffer even more.

Since the travel guide was published, it is time to reconsider which is more important: an economy that benefits everyone or protected zones where numerous visitors are whisked in and out for safety.

Though important, how do you balance those at the gates, where ships dock, all vying for a piece of the protected pie?

These islands must find a solution to clear up the debris that appears to have gone unnoticed and is now causing congestion. Whatever your ranking, the sunset and high seas cannot wash away these difficulties.

Despite crime reduction efforts, Jamaica continues to have one of the world’s highest murder rates. According to experts, the Bahamas has reported 18 homicides in Nassau since the beginning of 2024, despite the city’s reputation for safety over the years.

The reality of rough tides.

Unfortunately, a lack of hope, rising unemployment rates, and other long-overlooked difficulties have produced a situation in which many people struggle to identify the place they once regarded as perfect, let alone feel comfortable in a world where safety is a rare commodity.

But we must remain hopeful because beneath it all are the industrious, hardworking folks, some of whom now have more keys to their homes than windows.

There comes a point when these difficulties transcend who is in authority, much like individuals who want to bask in the sun.

The local community must ask: Is it safer now? Are they better off now?

Fortunately, more individuals now can examine information to determine for themselves whether the vibes are still positive, if there is optimism or pessimism.

You may need to openly recognize the islands that have performed better, collaborate more, and cease admiring their success from your lighthouse to learn from them. Connectivity is becoming increasingly important today, so embrace autonomy and collaboration.

History tends to repeat itself on some of these coastlines.

Bob Marley fled Jamaica decades ago, citing violence and threats to his life. His personal story has emerged at an important period, coinciding with current regional challenges of crime, politics, and the economy.

Consider Bob Marley’s “One Love” movie. It provides an opportunity for curious explorers to discover and interact with a culture that has matured into a well-known identity.

 It’s fascinating how history tends to repeat itself.

Consider the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on these islands, which caused dread, anxiety, and difficulty for many local companies. Today’s issues may contribute to the uncomfortable understanding that violence may claim someone’s life in an instant.

Why not try to be on the safe list or get added if you were left out?
What led to your removal from the excellent list?
There will always be another review, and hopefully you will get on it the next time…


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