On Monday, February 22nd a Travel Alert was issued by the U.S. Department of State regarding travel to Mexico.
For the many tourists who have been loyal to visiting Mexico over the years, this news wasn’t cause for concern. However, Mexico attracts new visitors every day and this Travel Alert could have potential tourists feel a little worried about traveling to Mexico.
To begin, this is not a new Travel Alert, but an update from a Travel Alert dated August 20, 2009 and is reviewed every six months. The main revisions on this version have to do with a few additional border areas where extra caution is recommended.
If you read the document, you will see the U.S. Department of State mainly refers to cities like Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, and Nogales, where there has been an increase in violence along the U.S. – Mexico border.
Clearly, the Travel Alert has put an emphasis on the border area. But Mexico is a big country and fortunately the top touristic destinations are far from those border cities.
So what does it mean to travelers and how should we respond to this alert?
One of the things that we need to understand is that there is a big difference between a Travel Alert and a Travel Warning.
Basically a Travel Alert informs the public about short-term conditions, meaning U.S. citizens should take common-sense precautions (we hope you always use your common sense, regardless!).
On the other hand, Travel Warnings are issued to describe long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable.
So, it is very important U.S. citizens understand that this alert is not to discourage Americans from traveling to Mexico’s tourist destinations.
As I mentioned before, the top tourist destinations in Mexico are far from the areas included in the alert. For example, the distance from Cancun to Ciudad Juarez is 1,312 miles – approximately the same distance between New York and Miami (1,290 miles).
Other tourist spots like Los Cabos, Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta, and Acapulco, are about a two-hour flight away from the areas identified in the alert. In other words: no need to get up from your hammock, so relax and ask your waiter for another Margarita!
Putting things in perspective
Big fact: U.S. and international travelers continue to visit Mexico because they feel safe; they know the violence in the northern border cities is unrelated to Mexico’s main tourist areas.
Tourists who visit Mexico find the friendliness, warmth, and hospitality like no other place. Because of this, Mexico welcomed almost 22 million international tourists in 2009. In addition, over one million Americans choose to reside in Mexico.
Always remember: As with any other place in the world, you should always be a smart traveler, use your common-sense, be informed about the place you will visit, respect the local customs, and take any necessary precautions.