TAMPA (FOX 13) - The U.S. State Department is urging travelers headed to the Bahamas to exercise caution following reports of violent crime in tourist areas.
Terris Ross booked her trip to the Bahamas months ago, but now she's making changes to her itinerary in response to the advisory , canceling excursions the U.S. State Department is warning could be dangerous.
According to the U.S. State Department, more than 6 million Americans visit the island paradise every year. The crystal clear waters and white sand beaches make the Bahamas a top spot for tourists, but also for criminals looking for their next target.
"When people are vacationing they kind of fall into a sense of fun," AAA Spokesperson Mark Jenkins said. "They're not really paying attention to their surroundings so it's really important when you are traveling anywhere to just increase your level of awareness."
The U.S. State Department issued a Bahamas travel advisory, warning burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assaults are common in tourists areas and sometimes in the middle of the day.
"Definitely going to take heed of the warning," Terris Ross said. "And maybe be more aware of my surroundings."
Ross is packing up to leave for the Bahamas this Monday. She was initially planning to jet ski as one of her excursions, but now she's re-thinking that plan.
"Watercraft are often not maintained," the U.S. State Department said in a statement. "And many companies do not have safety certifications to operate in The Bahamas. Jet-ski operators have been known to commit sexual assaults against tourists."
Ross--who has friends from the Bahamas--says she's heard similar stories.
"Because things are not regulated as much there," Ross said. "People may just have the equipment and are just walking around soliciting business."
Ross is now choosing to book all her excursions through her cruise line instead.
"The U.S. is not necessarily saying you shouldn't travel to the Bahamas," Jenkins said. "They're just encouraging you to increase your level of awareness."
For more information on the advisory, click here.