Outrigger Hotels and Resorts

Published on Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How safe is Mexico these days?

You can call Mexico many things: drug-ridden and colorful are words that immediately crop up. But the real question is whether it is dangerous? A simple answer:

“Many tourists, mainly from the neighboring USA, now consider Mexico to be a bargain and not the dangerous drug-ridden country it has often been depicted in the media,” points out Tourism-Review.com.

When this editor went to Mexico City for a recent convention, the most common reaction was this:
“Why in the world do you want to go there? It’s dangerous.”

For most tourists such as myself, the most dangerous aspect of travel here is traffic (which is the biggest cause of death for American tourists visiting any foreign lands). Traffic is terrible anytime but residents will tell you accidents are not that common because of the defensive driving that is also commonplace.

The main problems in Mexico involve interior areas that are far from the Riviera Maya and Cozumel beaches more frequented by sun-seeking tourists.

Despite bad publicity about drugs and swine flu, 7.1 million tourists visited Mexico in the first eight months of this year. Hotel occupancy in Mexico was up 10 percent through August 2010, according to Smith Travel Research, while the number of international tourist arrivals to Mexico was up 27.5 percent in July 2010 as compared to July 2009.

Why is that?

Most observers attribute it to overall prices that are lower than in Europe and much of the US.

While the US State Department has travel warnings in place for Mexico, the violence and the warnings are far from resort areas such as Cancun, Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta, and Los Cabos, popular incentive destinations.

Until recently it was accurate to say virtually all of the crime, murder and kidnapping of foreign (particularly US) citizens was linked to the drug trade. People attempting to buy or sell drugs, attempting to be a part of the trafficking industry or a turf war between drug gangs. But more recently, there have been a few incidents where innocent people have become victims.

Consular staff and their family members have been kidnapped, prompting the State Department to order non-essential staff and their dependents back home.

There's no denying the country does have problems.

It is not advisable to drive on rural roads and highways at night. Bandits occasionally set up roadblocks and rob travellers, for example. But incidents are far from commonplace.

What areas should tourists avoid?

The State Department warning advises US citizens to avoid unnecessary travel to Michoacán and Tamaulipas, and to parts of Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango, and Coahuila.

The warning also says:

“Millions of US citizens safely visit Mexico each year. This includes tens of thousands who cross the border every day for study, tourism or business and at least one million US citizens who live in Mexico … Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime reported in the border region and in areas along major drug trafficking routes.”

The State Department also urges “common-sense precautions such as visiting only legitimate business and tourist areas during daylight hours, and avoiding areas where criminal activity might occur, can help ensure that travel to Mexico is safe and enjoyable.”

Mexico ranks as one of the top international travel destination in the world and is the No. 1 international tourism destination for North Americans traveling abroad.

One piece of evidence of the country’s relative safety for most visits: Many tourists to the country are repeat visitors, which demonstrates that the vast majority of tourists leave with overwhelmingly positive impressions.

By David Wilkening

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  • Sources

    This is resourceful information to know. What were your sources for some of this information?

    By Eric Warner, Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • Sources for "danger in tourist areas"

    To Kevin Mellott, I'm curious too about your sources for "deadly incidents in tourist areas", would you please share them with us? The only "deadly incident" registered in Cancun was the firebomb attack at a bar NOT IN THE TOURIST AREA, where NO TOURIST WAS HARMED. There hasn't been a single incident in the tourist areas and no tourist whatsoever has been harmed, at least in Cancun. Believe me, if it was so, the news would already had traveled the world and be on every single newspaper, etc. Regards from Cancun, Camilo Olea http://www.cancunissafe.com

    By Camilo Olea, Friday, October 29, 2010

  • Safety in Tourist Areas of Mexico

    Response to Kevin Mellott: I'm curious to know where you obtain your information about the drug-gang violence in Mexican tourist areas. As a U.S. citizen who has driven from the US through Mexico to Cancun, and having lived in Cancun for 1.5 years now, I have never heard about any related violence in the hotel zone or at tourist attractions. The recent articles about a drug-related bombing at a Cancun bar occurred on the outskirts of the city, nowhere near the tourist areas, and the event was personal, not random. Just like everywhere else, there can be violent crime in Mexico, and a few tourists may be in the wrong place at the wrong time, resulting in victimization, but this is rare, and the violence is not usually drug-war related. Cancun, the Riviera Maya, and the Yucatan Peninsula have one of the lowest violent crime rates in all of Mexico. Remember, Mexico is a large country with 31 states and 1 federal district. Avoid the MX-US border states and states listed by the US State Department as risks, and then take the same precautions you would anywhere else, avoiding questionable situations and environments.

    By Christina Famiglietti, Friday, October 29, 2010

  • Great info

    I'm traveling to Cabo San Lucas in December and wondered about violence in the resort areas. Thanks!

    By Beth St Lawrence, Thursday, October 28, 2010

  • Mexico as a Destination

    Thank you for your article. Mexico is statistically no more dangerous than many countries. And away from the border, and specifically Ciudad Juarez, Mexico remains a tourist mecca. The colonial towns of Taxco, Cuernavaca, Ixtapan de la Sal are walkable, even alone, welcoming and cheap! A bit of Europe right next door.

    By Phyllis Stoller, Thursday, October 28, 2010

  • other destinations

    I would like to ask another question. How safe is Ecuador and Galapagos Islands after the recent riots?

    By Doug Wardle, Thursday, October 28, 2010

  • comments are incorrect

    Your article is incorrect. There is danger in the tourist areas too. There have been deadly incidents in many of the tourist areas you mentioned and it is inappropriate to provide false information when it comes to personal safety and security.

    By Kevin Mellott, Thursday, October 28, 2010

  • Some areas are unsafe, the rest is OK

    Hi, Its true, there is a bloody drug war going on right now in Mexico. As a Mexican, I won't lie and I accept the fact that my country is going through a very difficult time right now. However, to say that the entire country is involved in said war, is false. The drug violence is specifically at certain towns & cities like Monterrey, Ciudad Juarez and such. Beach resort towns such as Cancun are safe. There havent been any tourist-involved incidents at all. You can check out my project, Cancun is Safe! To read it from other visitors. I've posted many testimonials & articles to prove this. http://www.cancunissafe.com Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cancunissafe Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cancunissafe Warm regards from Cancun, Camilo Olea Founder, Cancun is Safe

    By Camilo Olea, Thursday, October 28, 2010

  • Drug Gang Violence & Safe Travel in Mexico

    Thanks for sharing an objective, factual viewpoint on traveler safety in Mexico. There are many travel destinations and resort towns in Mexico where people can still take a safe vacation, such as the Yucatan Peninsula where Cancun and the Riviera Maya are located. One comment regarding violence extending outside the drug-gang circle ("Consular staff and their family members..."), although these acts seem unrelated, there is usually a connection to the drug trade, such as officials opposed to it or involved in it somehow. Really, there is a very low risk of tourists being victims of this violence. Practice common sense when traveling, following safe travel tips, and you can have a safe, fun vacation in Mexico! http://www.cancunsoon.com http://www.haciendatresrios.com

    By Christina Famiglietti, Thursday, October 28, 2010

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