Last week the US State Department issued another travel alert for the US citizens regarding Mexico. This last alert specifically mentioned the city of Playa Del Carmen, a popular tourist destination in Riviera Maya, in proximity to many popular hotels. Major news outlets in the US published panic articles about possible threats to US tourists planning to flock to this popular spring break destination. Understandably, some of our clients are concerned. Which is why we at Family Travel Concierge took a closer look at the State Department’s warning and analyzed what it means for our clients. Should you really be cancelling that trip?
It’s a level 2 warning, which means “Exercise Increased Caution”. The State Department also warns against visiting selected neighborhoods within Playa Del Carmen (which happen to be further away from major resorts). They are also advising tourists not to take the ferry from Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel. This would be equivalent to giving a warning to tourists to exercise caution when visiting South Bronx because it has a higher crime rate than the Central Park area in Manhattan. Coincidently, level 2 warning is the same level of warning as has been issued for other popular Caribbean destinations, such as Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, or the Bahamas.
Secondly, let’s look at the actual crime statistics for Riviera Maya. Number of homicides in Cancun is lower compared to major American cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia and many others. This number is about 20 per 100,000 residents. The same goes to robberies and other crimes. If you look at statistics for Riviera Maya or the whole Yucatan Peninsula, these crime numbers are even lower.
There were only several real cases in all of 2017 when tourists got killed. These incidents have occurred in night clubs and impacted people who were involved with drugs. If you heard of a similar incident in a major US city, would it stop you from visiting it? If you’re planning to exercise regular caution, then most likely not.
Mexican authorities take security issues very seriously. The only highway connecting Cancun and Riviera Maya has police checkpoints. The beach and tourist areas are patrolled by armed cops. Each reputable resort has security team which does not allow outsiders to enter the resort. People who work at the resorts feel very secure when going outside. For example, Annette, the managing director of Paradisus La Esmeralda who we know personally and work with closely, jogs every morning outside of the resort and lets her teenage kids to go outside as well. She is originally from Netherlands and feels that living in Riviera Maya is no more dangerous than living in Amsterdam.
We personally visited Riviera Maya in January, we walked along the beach for miles and found the area very peaceful and secure. While walking, we met police officers who patrolled the area.
Of course, we cannot predict what will happen in any part of the world, whether it is Riviera Maya, New York City or Paris. All we know is that staying at the resorts in Cancun/Riviera Maya and going out for various tours and activities is no more dangerous than visiting any European capital or any major US city.
We always suggest to clients to use common sense when on vacation (don't get drunk, don't use drugs, don't visit shady areas, etc.) and always to have a travel insurance in case of a medical emergency.
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