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Published on : Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Following the murder of a woman from Chicago last week, the U.S. State Department advises visitors to be cautious and alert while visiting Belize. After American Anne Swaney, 39, was found strangled last Friday morning, officials raise concerns about the security of tourists traveling to Belize.
The small country on the eastern coast of Central America is known to have one of the highest murder rates in the world and a very high crime rate, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Overseas Security Advisory Council reports.
“Corruption, human smuggling/trafficking, the drug trade, money laundering, and organized gang activity remain significant problems,” states Belize’s 2015 Crime and Safety Report.
In response to the violences here, the U.S. State Department advises tourists to “avoid areas of the south side of Belize City where numerous gangs are known to operate,” and remain cautious and alert when visiting border areas.
“We encourage U.S. citizens to exercise caution and good situational awareness in all their travel activities. Visitors should travel in groups and only during daylight hours. Avoid wearing jewelry or carrying valuable or expensive items”, the State Department warns, to minimize the risk of attack and avoid becoming a crime victim.
Tourism here accounts for 14 per cent of jobs and 23 per cent of the country’s GDP. To protect both the country’s economy and tourists, the local Belizean “tourism police” was also appointed to patrol the country’s main attractions.