Thursday, March 25, 2010

How Safe is Mexico?

As most everyone knows, thanks to the media, there has been yet another travel warning issued for Mexico. This latest warning is due to the increase in violence in certain Mexico states and towns. This warning has again made the public weary of traveling to any part of Mexico whether on vacation or business.

As with past posts on this blog, I feel it is my duty to help you sift through the media hype, the misstatements, the false and misleading advertising etc when it comes to travel related issues. This is why I feel it is necessary for me to help you understand the reality of this latest travel alert.

I will state right up front...I am a fan of Mexico. I have traveled to Mexico and had and will have clients who travel to Mexico and it is my opinion that Mexico offers some of the best vacation options throughout the world. That is why I am very bothered when I see and read things that try to get travelers to think otherwise, especially when news stories paint an unrealistic and negatively skewed picture of a situation.

I have recently posted a quiz to get a better idea of what the general public actually might know about Mexico and its size and geography. The results of that quiz were as I expected and further convinced me that this post was necessary. I asked questions such as "How far is the Yucatan Peninsula from the town of Nuevo Laredo?" Some responded that it is 100 miles away, some responded that it is 200 miles away. The correct answer was that they are over 600 miles apart. I also asked if it was true that Tijuana is within 50 miles from Cabo San Lucas? The correct answer is false, they are hundreds of miles away from each other. Another question was concerning the location of the Mexico town of Nogales. Almost 50% of the responders think it is in the southern part of the Country. The correct answer is that it is on the extreme northern border of Mexico (northwest to be more accurate, but not a coastal town). Most responders also believe that the Mexico city of Ciuad Juarez is on the Pacific, the Caribbean or the Gulf of Mexico coastline. Ciuad Juarez is not on any coast and is also located on the northern border of Mexico (see previous post).

I specifically used those towns and cities (Nogales, Ciuad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo and Tijuana) in my quiz because they are the very locations of all of the violence in Mexico and they are all border towns with the United States. Another thing that they all have in common is that they are hundreds and even thousands of miles from almost every Mexico tourist destination (see photo). For example...San Francisco and L.A. are closer than Tijuana and Cabo San Lucas. Would anyone cancel a trip to San Francisco because of crime issues in Los Angeles? Here is another truth...the very popular Riviera Maya area of Mexico is over 1300 miles from the town of Nogales where a lot of the violence has occurred. So that would be the equivalent of canceling a trip to the State of Oklahoma because of some violence outbreak in a city in California. Imagine what we would think if we found out foreign tourists were deciding to cancel trips to Florida because they heard that there was a crime spree in New York City. We would think they just have no earthly idea of how far apart those two places are or we would think they are simply overreacting. Well...I wonder what the people of Cozumel or Cancun or Mazatlan think of us when we make similar decisions about visiting their part of the world because we hear that there is violence on the Mexico/Texas border?

I have posted the numbers in a previous post so I will not belabor you with them again, but the facts show that we have much higher crime rates in most of our large U.S. tourist destinations than they do in the actual tourist locations of Mexico.

So with that said...what are your thoughts about traveling to Mexico? Are you still concerned? If you are...why? Do these facts help you better understand where the trouble spots are? I would love to get your feedback or questions.


Anonymous said...

I am suppose to be going to the hospital in Piedras Negras for surgery in about a month. I'm staying in Eagle Pass for one night beforehand. I'm told the van picks us up and drives over the border for approx. a mile to the hospital, do you think it's safe after the recent bomb in Nuevo Laredo? said...

I am for sure not in a position to declare any US/Mexico border town as safe for travel. Just be careful and aware of your surroundings. Hope all goes well with your surgery