The travel and hospitality industry in Mexico has had a bad couple of years. First, the swine flu outbreak cost the country billions of dollars in lost revenue. Then right on the heels of this devastating blow to the Mexican economy, the drug violence seemed to explode almost over night putting into question safety in Mexico.
This perfect storm of public relations disasters indelibly changed the perception of Mexico by millions, especially North American and European tourists.
Mexico is one of the world’s top tourist destinations and tourism makes up 8 percent of the Mexican economy. In fact, tourism is Mexico’s biggest moneymaker after oil and remittances from abroad. However, the drug violence in the northern border towns is threatening to significantly change these statistics.
More than 20,000 people have died in the fight between cartels and Mexican security forces since President Felipe Calderon launched his crackdown on drug gangs in late 2006. However, most of these deaths have occurred in border towns such as Ciudad Juarez and Nuevo Laredo. The typical tourist towns of Cancun and the Yucatan Peninsula remain the same as they always have. That being said, the Pacific resort towns of Acapulco and Mazatlan have seen an increase in drug related shootings this year and can no longer be considered safe.
The truth is that the typical tourist should not shy away from the tourist towns of Mexico. These areas have not seen dramatic increases in violent crime and robbery remains the major concern among travelers. Crime exists everywhere and the average person would be shocked to see the crime rates in their own hometown.
What is key is a tip that all tourists should keep in mind – be smart and be safe. Learn about the area to which you are traveling and be aware of any potential dangers. But to say that it is inherently dangerous to spend a vacation on the Caribbean shores of Mexico is not true and is frankly unfair to those who make their livelihood from Mexican tourism.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and only reflect current events at the time of publication.