Posts Tagged tourism

A Family Road Trip to Mexico Dispels Myths About Danger

6 April 2012

Rachel Denning shares her recent experiences on a family road trip through Mexico, for the popular BootsnAll Indie Travel Guide.

Denning and her family of 7, including her kids (whose ages range from 4 to 2 months), crossed the border from Arizona into Chihuahua, and passed through Durango, Guadalajara, Mexico City, Puebla, Oaxaca, Chiapas, and most of the Yucatan Peninsula before crossing into Belize.

What they experienced was a Mexico far from the “lawless,” “violent,” and “dangerous” Mexico they had been sufficiently warned about.  What they discovered instead was a Mexico “so far from the rumors, news reports, warnings and ‘common knowledge’ that it was almost comical, if it wasn’t so sadly incorrect.”

Says Denning,

“Yes, there are people being killed in Mexico. Yes, there is a drug war going on. Yes, regular precautions should be taken, just as you would if you were taking a trip to the United States for the first time. You probably wouldn’t pick a known gang neighborhood in L.A. as the place you would spend your time.  The same logic applies for visiting Mexico. For the most part, the urban legends  just aren’t true, and if you avoid the “bad parts of town,” the result will be a rich, rewarding experience.”

In her article, she dispels 4 common myths about Mexico.  Those myths include:

-“Because of the drug war, all of Mexico is unsafe”

-“Tourists are being targeted and killed, even in the “safe” areas, and anyone could get caught in the crossfire”

-“If you do go, stick to the touristy areas – they’re the safest for you and your kids”

-“Mexico is just a poor, third world country.  There’s not much to see and do anyway, especially for kids”

She also shares her six favorite destinations in Mexico, which include: Lake Chapala, Morelia, Mexico City, Oaxaca, Chiapas, and Laguna Bacalar.

To read Denning’s explanation behind the 4 common myths about Mexico, as well as her travel and destination recommendations, view the full article here.

Readers Talk About Their Own Experiences in Mexico

5 April 2012

Seattle Times columnist Carol Pucci decided to address tourist concerns about safety in Mexico by asking readers who had been to or live in Mexico to share their experiences.  Nearly 100 people responded online and through written correspondence.

The general consensus among readers was that there is a noticeable police presence, even in tourist destinations.  While some may view this as a comforting safety measure, others may find it unsettling.  However, most of those who responded agreed that “not going to Mexico because of violence in some areas is like saying you won’t go to Ephrata because there was a shooting in Tacoma.”

Said Bob, from Camano Island:

“”Fearful of visiting Mexico, not us. We visited Loreto (in June). Walked the entire town without any fears. The people were very gracious … Bottom line, we have no concerns about traveling to Mexico. On the other hand, there are two things I wouldn’t do … (go to) border towns, and (take) long driving trips to the interior.”

Pat from Edmonton Alberta had this to say:

“My husband and I have been going to Mexico for three months in the winter for the past 14 years. We stay in San Miguel de Allende and often travel around Mexico. We actually feel safer there than we do here in our hometown.”

Doug from Seattle put things in perspective as well:

“We own a house in Puerto Vallarta, and travel throughout Mexico on the national bus lines. In all the years we have been going, I can count on less than one hand the number of violent crimes of which I am personally aware. No one makes light of the drug violence there, but when was the last time the U.S. government issued travel warnings to various American cities including the nation’s capital?”

To read the rest of reader comments, go here.

CBS News Travel Editor Talks About Mexican Tourism and Safety

29 March 2012

CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg has been traveling across Mexico as part of an ongoing media project to spread awareness about Mexico tourism and safety.  Says Greenberg:

“Let me state something from the outset. I am not an unabashed apologist for Mexico, or its spokesman or an endorser. I am writing this as a veteran traveler to Mexico who has been going down there since 1973 without a single incident.

I am growing tired, and somewhat impatient with expressions of concern or worry — as well intentioned as they may be — about my traveling to Mexico.  Every time I am about to fly there — to Cancun, to Cabo, to Ixtapa, to Mexico City and many other locations — my friends, and sometimes even strangers advise me to ‘be careful’, ‘be safe’ or worse… ‘watch out.’  Watch out for what? great people? great weather? great service? affordable, memorable experiences?  We need to get out there and find a map. Then we need to study it to put things in proper perspective”

Greenberg has expressed disappointment with the warnings against spring break travel to Mexico, issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety, calling them irresponsible and pointing out that spring break destinations are far from Mexico’s danger zones.

On Mexico’s drug war, Greenberg says “The bottom line here is that Americans are not being targeted in this drug war.”

To read the full article, along with more of Greenberg’s informed travel advice about Mexico – go here.

Mexico Holds Its Own with Spring Break Tourists

21 March 2012

Despite a steady stream of bad press, CNN reports that Mexico remains a popular destination for spring break vacationers, and continues to hold its place as the top foreign country visited by Americans for over two decades.  The Mexico Tourism Board estimates 52 million domestic and international tourists to the southeastern part of the country in 2012, thanks to public relations efforts to direct tourists to destinations which reflect the experience of most visitors to the country who stay away from Northern areas, which are plagued by cartel-related violence.

The press jumped on the heels of the latest U.S. Travel Advisory for Mexico in February, however Rodolfo Lopez Negrete, the CEO of Mexico’s Tourism Board views the advisory as a positive thing, saying he welcomed the extent to which the advisory pinpointed which areas to avoid, and which ones were safe.  Negrete told CNN:

“We try to put things within the proper context of making sure people understand that if there are problems in certain pockets of the country, that doesn’t mean the major resort destinations and city center destinations are in danger.  Mexico is a very large country, the size of western Europe, so it’s unfair to paint Mexico with such a massively broad stroke.”

There are many places in Mexico for which there is no travel advisory in effect, including Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Campeche, San Miguel de Allende, and Mexico City, the nation’s capital.  Travelers are always advised to exercise caution in order to avoid being victims of petty crime – a danger in all countries – however the drug-related violence focused on by the media is far removed from these destinations.

To read the full article, go here.

The U.S. State Department’s Updated Travel Advisory for Mexico

25 February 2012

The U.S. State Department issued its most recent Travel Advisory for Mexico in February, highlighting the areas of Mexico that are safe for travel.  Those areas include:

  • Baja California South, including Cabo San Lucas
  • Parts of Southern Mexico including Campeche, Chiapas
  • Central Mexico including Estado de Mexico, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, Leon and Hidalgo, Puebla, Queretaro
  • Mexico City
  • Oaxaca including Huatulco and Puerto Escondido
  • Quintana Roo including Playa del Carmen, Cancun, Riviera Maya, Cozumel and Tulum
  • Tabasco including Villahermosa
  • Tlaxcala
  • Yucatan including Merida and Chichen Itza

States to avoid or to exercise caution in include:

  • Chihuahua
  • Tijuana
  • Coahuila
  • Durango
  • Nuevo Leon
  • Sinaloa

As both Travel Mexico and State Department point out, every year, millions of travelers from the United States cross into Mexico for business, pleasure or educational purposes.  From Travel Mexico :

In fact, over 150,000 U.S. citizens venture into Mexico on a daily basis. The Mexican government spends a considerable amount of resources to protect tourists from both the U.S. and other countries. As a result, resorts and other tourist destinations do not have the type of drug-related crime that is seen in the border regions or along the primary trafficking routes. Plus, the State Department has found that there is no evidence that any organized criminal group in Mexico has targeted U.S. citizens based on their country of origin.

You can read the full Travel Advisory for Mexico at the State Department’s website, here.

Gadling’s Safest Travel Destinations in Mexico

30 January 2012

Popular travel news website Gadling recently released a list of the safest destinations to visit in Mexico.  The list includes popular tourist destinations such as the Yucatan, which encompasses the resort beach towns of Cancun, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen as well as the archaeological wonders of Chichen Itza and the metropolitan city of Merida.  The list also includes the historical towns of Puebla and Queretaro, the storied metropolis of Mexico City, and the charming, artistic enclaves (and expatriate favorites) of Todos Santos and San Miguel de Allende.

To read the full article, go here.

San Miguel de Allende: Far Cry from the Mexico of CNN

18 January 2012

Ron Erskine recently profiled one of Mexico’s safest places, a colonial town rich with Mexican history and as charming as a “hilltop Tuscan town… or perch in Provence, France.”  San Miguel de Allende is famous in Mexican history as the birthplace of the Mexican War of Independence.  Almost 200 years later, it is an expatriate enclave for Americans and Canadians with a bustling artistic community and cultural capital to boot – from fine dining to high fashion boutiques.

Said Erskine:

“From here, craft shops, great restaurants, magnificent churches and historical buildings are a stroll away. The downtown walking tour brought San Miguel’s revolutionary drama to life: Ignacio Allende’s house, the plaza where insurgents gathered, and the wall against which many were shot by a firing squad (note the filled-in bullet holes).

I suppose the Mexico of CNN — drug cartel killings, corruption, danger — is out there somewhere, but every moment we spent in San Miguel was a revelation. Great weather, friendly people, rich history, and sights with a European flair are right here in our hemisphere.”

To read the full article, go here.

Playing It Safe In Mexico in 2012

26 December 2011

A recent article in The Washington Post offers a great, updated guide to traveling safe in Mexico, along with a fair compendium of facts, statistics, and quotes from official and non-official sources. An estimated 4.7 million Americans visited Mexico from January to October 2011. From the article:

Of 2,500 municipalities (what we call counties), only 80, or fewer than 5 percent, have been affected by the drug war, which accounts for only 3 percent of all crime. Mexican cities are also safer than some urban centers north of the border: Mexico City, for example, has 8.3 homicides a year per 100,000 people. That’s fewer than Miami (14.1) and Chicago (16.1). On a global scale, Mexico is safer than many of its neighbors. In 2008, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported Mexico’s homicide rate as 11.6 per 100,000, significantly lower than Honduras (60.9), Jamaica (59.5) or El Salvador (51.8). Without a solid understanding of the geography (761,606 square miles) and the nature of the drug wars (internecine fighting), many foreigners assume that all of Mexico is a war zone. But it isn’t.

Violence by and large is limited to specific areas, and unrelated to tourism.  The article suggests areas that are safe to visit, areas to visit with caution, as well as areas to avoid.

Safe to Visit
Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Campeche, Merida, Tulum, Uxmal and Chichen Itza, Leon, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, Queretaro, Chiapas, San Cristobal de las Casas, Oaxaca

Go with Caution
Avoid traveling alone and at night in Tijuana, and beware of street crime in Mexico City.

Places to Avoid
Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Copper Canyon, Baja California, Guadlajara, Veracruz, Monterrey, Mazatlan, and Acapulco

Says U.S. and Hampton, VA expat Margo Lee Shetterly – who relocated to Mexico with her husband 6 years ago: in the article:

“There’s a big gap between perception and reality.  It’s a real shame for people to write off a whole country without looking at the map and at the statistics.”

To read the full travel guide, go here.

A Sobering but Fair Take on the Safety Debate

28 June 2011

Former Mexican resident and educator Allan Wall gives a fair take on the Mexican safety debate at Mexidata, acknowledging Mexico’s violence problem and the sobering statistics of deaths in border towns like Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana. He also acknowledges that more Americans were killed in cartel related violence in 2010 (reportedly 108) than in years past, and that those numbers may be under-counted due to reporting complications such as dual citizenship and people who simply disappear.  However, he makes the point that, of those killed, many are involved in criminal or cartel-related activity – and that overall, the number of deaths does not quite match up to reports of rampant violence or of the whole country being in chaos.  Says Wall:

Let’s say for the sake of argument that up to 300 Americans die annually in Mexico.  Each one of those deaths is a tragedy.  But 300 deaths would still be a fraction of the estimated 15 million Americans who visit Mexico annually.  So statistically, the chances of an American tourist being killed in Mexico are not very high at all.

Wall urges Americans to make up their own minds about whether to travel to Mexico or not, but to make an informed decision.  He recommends the U.S. Travel Advisory as a fair and reliable source, and says, “In any city you visit, it makes a difference as to what part of town you are in, and in what sorts of activities you are engaged.”

Read the full article here.

CNN Travel on Why You Should Go To Mexico

11 May 2011

Robert Reid’s recent article for CNN Travel discusses Mexican tourism’s big PR problem – what we all know, the escalating drug war and gory media reports of violence.  He notes the U.S. State Department’s travel advisory’s recent expansion to 14 of Mexico’s 31 states doesn’t help matters either.  Yet, says Reid,

It’s in the 17 of 31 states not named in the newly expanded warnings that you’ll find the most rewarding destinations: the Yucatan Peninsula and Baja California beach resorts, colonial hill towns like the ex-pat haven of San Miguel de Allende, even the capital Mexico City.

Reid says, “We tend to lump all of Mexico – a country the size of Western Europe – together,” citing how a border incident involving the death of a Colorado tourist  in 2010 prompted the Texas Department of Homeland Security to issue a travel warning for all of Mexico.  The fact of the matter is that most of central and southern Mexico sees less violence than many U.S. cities, and residents remain miffed at the public’s fear of their quiet communities.

Offering “jungles, deserts, volcanoes, beaches, coral reefs, ancient pyramids, living pre-European cultures and some of the world’s most satisfying cuisines,” not to mention proximity and value, Mexico remains a great travel destination with a very bad PR problem.

Reid is a Lonely Planet U.S. Travel Editor and host of the 76-Second Travel Show.  You can read his full article at CNN Travel here.

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