Every so often the U.S. State Department, usually through the U.S. Embassy and consulates, issues “no travel” warnings relating to different parts of Mexico. You’d think this would scare the wits out of gringo tourists but one thing is the official “danger” opinion and something else the desire to visit Mexico.
The fact is that in spite of the warnings, and that Mexico is faced with a horrendous increase in the amount of violent murders particularly during 2017 – one of the most violent years in recent history – in the first half of the year the amount of gringo travelers increased by a whopping 17 percent, according to a report issued by the Unit of Migratory Policy, a branch of the Interior Secretariat (Segob).
Of course, there are – nobody is counting but this is an educated guess – a million Americans living part time or permanently in Mexico and the warnings are also aimed for them but these people have understood that as a general rule, the violence is not a general trend and that for the most part it happens among criminal gangs.
True, now and then tourists end up as victims but these cases are very rare and in general criminals do not mess with visitors, much the less if they are gringos.
The report says that in the first six months of 2017 airplane arrivals went up by 14 percent, a one percent increase over 2016 when the number of travelers from the United States alone shot up to 13 percent.
The airport with the largest number of arrivals from the United States was Cancun, which in the first half of the year had an increase of 9.2 percent. And mind you, Cancun is on top of the no travel warning list as recently several gangs are competing for the apparently highly profitable local retail sales of drugs. The news has been filled with reports of shootouts and gang violence but again, this seldom includes participation by tourists.
Another place in the U.S. Embassy list lately has been Los Cabos where, like in Cancun, the internal gang warfare is on the rise but even then the Segob report says that the local airport showed an increase of 17.9 percent increase in arrivals from Gringoland.
If Mexico is so violent – even Donald Trump said it in one of his infamous tweets last week – the reasons why U.S. citizens are coming to spend their days off in this here nation are twofold. One because Mexico is very close to the United States and at worst coming here means a four hour trip. Second, it represents an unbeatable bargain.
But also over the years Mexico has gained a very special place in the hearts of U.S. citizens precisely because if you actually look at violence, it is a lot worse in places like Los Angeles and Chicago with a higher number of violent deaths that any of the three most popular tourist resorts in Mexico, namely Cancun, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta.
But also because there is an ever present promotion movement not just by the Tourism Secretariat and state governments, but also word of mouth communications that praise the increase in the quality of services and gastronomy.
President of the Mexican Travel Agencies Association Jorge Hernández says the increase is due mostly to the fact that “it’s cheaper” and both U.S. citizens and Canadians get a lot more for their dollars than they would at home.
According to a recent poll carried out by financial daily newspaper El Financiero, Mexican beach destinations are as much as 34 percent cheaper than those in the United States and other nations such as Spain. The paper gives an example: A night at the Sheraton Grand Los Cabos costs $214 while just up the coast a room at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach is $309.
In a one week vacation you’re already saving $700. Not bad.
Also there is one thing organized criminal gangs understand clearly: they may have their own quarrels but touching tourists in general is a no no situation because it’d be like killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.
There have been no travel warnings before and surely they will come again but for tourists having a good time in Mexico, the nation is one of the safest places in the world.