Lonely Planet’s U.S. Travel Editor Robert Reid gets asked frequently if it’s safe to travel to Mexico, and his answer has always been, “If you’re thoughtful about where you go, the answer is yes.” Reid says that perhaps a better question is, “Do you think it’s safe to go to Texas?”
Mexico, a country that is roughly the size of the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy combined, has been singled out in the mainstream media, especially when compared to other popular tourist destinations which have far higher homicide rates like the Bahamas, Belize and Jamaica (36, 42, and 52 homicides per 100,000 people, respectively).
While Mexico tourism is finally starting to bounce back with Canadians and Brits, Americans remain reluctant to return. Even though U.S. violent crime statistics suggest that Americans are more likely to encounter violence at home, especially if you look specifically at Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations. For example, Disney World’s Orlando saw 7.5 murders per 100,000 residents in 2010, which is higher than popular Mexican destinations Cancun (1.83) or Puerto Vallarta (5.9).
Reid asks American tourists to consider 5 things, before forming an opinion on Mexico.
- Mexico may be more dangerous than the U.S. overall, but not for Americans. 4.8 per 100,000 Americans were murdered in the U.S. in 2010, while only 2.1 of 100,000 visitors (who may or may not have been connected to drug trafficking) were murdered in Mexico.
- Texans are twice as safe in Mexico than in Texas, and three times safer than in Houston.
- Texans aren’t the only state citizens that are safer in Mexico than their home state (yes, New Orlean’s homicide rate is triple that of Mexico’s national homicide rate).
- The vast majority of Mexico is not on the U.S. State Department’s travel warning.
- President Obama’s daughter Malia went to Oaxaca for her spring break, despite Texas’s alarmist travel warning.
Mexico offers some of the greatest travel experiences in the world, and as the U.S. State Department says, “millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year.” If you can go to Texas, New Orleans, Orlando or the Bahamas, you can certainly go to Mexico.
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