Is Mexico a Safe Destination?

SEPARATING FACT FROM FICTION

ABOUT TRAVEL TO MEXICO

Anyone who hasn’t been living in the Witness Protection Program for the last year or so is likely aware of the many media reports and warnings regarding travel to Mexico.   The fact is, the vast majority of tourist destinations in Mexico are safe, have a long history of being safe, and are beautiful places to visit, with lovely beaches and unique cultures to experience.  While the violence in areas of Mexico affected by drug cartels is tragic and sad, unfortunately the media has sensationalized much of the effect on the average traveler without reporting all of the facts.

Over 20 million people travel to Mexico each year with only a handful of incidents, mostly resulting from accidents, not crime.  Mexico is second only to Italy in popularity as an international luxury destination.  Would we advise you to travel over the border between Texas or Arizona and Mexico by car?  No, we would not.   But saying that you do not want to travel to the Cancun area or Cabo San Lucas because there is drug-related violence in Mexico, which is largely occurring in border areas, is like saying you would not travel to Chicago because there has been gang violence in L.A. or New York.  Once it is examined from that perspective, you can see how unfair it is to the hard-working, friendly, welcoming people of Cancun, the Riviera Maya, Cozumel, Cabo, and other unaffected areas.  Not to mention the fact that travel to Mexico is one of the best bargains in the travel industry.  There are a large number of luxury hotels with excellent service, as well as plentiful flights, and your travel dollar goes much further in Mexico than in most other tropical destinations.   IMG_1366

A common misconception about Mexico is that because violence is happening in one location, then it’s happening all across the country.  With a country nearly three times the size of Texas, this is clearly false. The trouble is some visitors don’t realize the incredible size of Mexico and the sheer distances between its tourist destinations and other cities.   For example, Los Cabos is 650 miles from Juarez, like traveling from Miami to Atlanta.  Puerto Vallarta is 1000 miles from Tijuana, like traveling from Orlando to New York.  And Cancun is even further from Tijuana, 1750 miles, which would be like traveling from Chicago to Los Angeles.   Continental, United, USAirways, Frontier, Alaska Airlines, and Delta have all added flights to Cancun and Cabo in the last couple of years and many other major carriers are in the process of doing so.  If tourist areas were truly dangerous, obviously this would not be happening.

The Yucatan Peninsula especially, where Cancun, the Riviera Maya, and Cozumel are located, is so isolated from the rest of Mexico it is almost as if it is a country unto itself.  A similar geographical situation exists in the Southern Baja Peninsula, where Cabo San Lucas is.  Perhaps this map will help put things in perspective:

MapMexicanViolence

But what about the warnings?  Yes, the State Dept. has issued warnings for certain areas of the country, but not for areas where we routinely, confidently send our clients.   For a more detailed description of the warnings and the specific concerns, see the related page titled “State Dept. Warnings – Mexico” under the “Pages” section on our website. In addition, when the Texas government issued a well-meaning warning for spring breakers traveling to Mexico, and specifically Cancun, much of their purpose in doing so was to impress upon college-age students the need to use common sense when traveling.  In the months that have followed, it has become apparent that it was never their intention to distort the facts regarding Cancun as a destination, and it was unfortunate that the media did not present both sides of the issue.  The fact is, Cancun has only had a handful of murders in the last decade, and none of them involved “stranger danger” violence, drug-related or otherwise, inflicted upon a tourist.  How many American cities can make this claim?  Any time we travel, it is important to pack our common sense along with our IMG_1326sunscreen!  Following basic safety precautions are important in any destination, in the U.S. or any other country.

So, if you’re not already convinced that the major tourist areas of Mexico are beautiful, safe places to visit, we will leave you with some other things to think about.  Three out of every ten tourists who visit Mexico come back for a return visit within 12 months.  No other destination can boast this rate of return.   In addition, exit surveys from travelers rate Mexico 9.1 out of 10 in terms of overall satisfaction with their vacation, also one of the highest values in the tourism industry.  Finally, we can all personally assure you that the level of service, beauty, and friendly hospitality you will find at the resorts we recommend in Mexico is beyond comparison.  We all look forward to our next trip to Mexico and we know that once you experience this diverse and wonderful destination, you will too!