In the face of recent events around the world and expanded warnings for tourists, we have all been witness to the fact that anything can happen while traveling abroad.
Unfortunately, consumer protection is poor in the $7+ trillion travel and tourism industry. No one warns anyone before they buy a trip or board a plane about potential risks. This calls us to take measures into our own hands. Do your own homework. Ask the right questions. Buy appropriate travel insurance. Visit a travel clinic for preventative meds. Don’t pack bags without an Emergency Action Plan.
Depart Smart, the only nonprofit dedicated to advancing travel and tourism consumer safety, can help you do exactly that with its brand new, 60-minute Premiere Travel Heroes Safety Course.
Latest travel advisories for Mexico have sunshine bound travelers, in particular, on edge.
Due to a recent surge of violence between crime gangs in Mexico—including gun battles and the shooting of innocent bystanders on public streets, nightclubs, and beaches—the U.S. State Government expanded its travel warnings August 22, 2017, to include some of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.
The warnings now extend to the Mexican states of Quintana Roo and Baja California Sur, which are home to resorts in Cancun, Tulum, Cabo San Lucas, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, and Riviera Maya.
Up to this point, these coastal areas were mostly sheltered from the drug war violence. But it’s now creeping across the nation, making 2017 one of the deadliest years in Mexico yet.
Travelers heading to those areas are also being cautioned of car jackings, highway robbery, and kidnapping. Victims abducted and held captive for ransom is one kind of kidnapping. But warnings also include “express” kidnapping when victim is forced to withdraw money from an ATM or “virtual” kidnapping when victim is coerced to provide contact information of loved ones.
Tourists also need to be aware of numerous reports of allegedly tainted alcohol at some resorts. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports travelers experiencing sickness, blackouts and injuries after drinking at Iberostar Hotel & Resorts’ Paraiso del Mar and other resorts around Cancun and Playa del Carmen in recent months.
The advisory emphasizes there is no evidence that U.S. citizens are being targeted. It also states that Mexico prioritizes protection of visitors and tourist destinations with extensive safety measures in place.
The Mexico Tourism Board downplays the advisory and warnings of increased violence in its statement: “We can add that the overwhelming majority of those incidents have taken place in locations not frequented by international tourists (such as inner city areas or private properties).”
In an article published in the Conde Naste Traveler on Aug. 24, their publication’s associate editor Andrea Whittle reports on her recent travels to Tulum. She says “I witnessed absolutely no violence, nor did I feel the threat of it.” Whittle also hints at the U.S. being equally as dangerous by saying “it’s important to note that other countries have issued travel warnings about certain parts of the U.S. in the past year.”
The Traveler article sites that Canada, France, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom have issued warnings to travelers visiting the U.S. and that—according to USA Today— those warnings are “focused on the U.S.’s mass shootings, police violence, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT attitudes, and Zika virus.”
While it’s clear the U.S. has its share of problems and dangers, especially in this volatile political climate, criminals in this country are caught and punished to the fullest extent of the law.
This is not the case in Mexico. According to Latin American Reporter Ana Campoy of Quartz, justice is not served in Mexico with only 1% of crimes punished. This is astounding when you consider Mexico vs. the United States crime statistics. According to statistics by NationMaster, the murder rate in Mexico is 98% higher than in the United States.
In addition, good healthcare when you need it is easier to find in the U.S. than it will be in Mexico. In a report by the Patient Factor USA, Mexico ranked 61 to USA’s 37.
At Depart Smart, the most important take away from the latest advisory for Mexico and the responses and counter-arguments to it is this: wise precautions for safe travel is critical whatever the destination. We are committed to helping individuals and families avoid dangerous situations and travel with more peace of mind. And we have the solution.
Our brand new, 60-minute Premiere Travel Heroes Safety Certification Course is loaded with the latest safety travel tips, tricks and resources. It even sites ransom insurance and includes a video about express kidnapping. Most importantly, as part of the course, you will also create an individualized Emergency Action Plan, customized for your specific trip.
Every life is priceless. Don’t leave home without the knowledge and preparation you need to stay safe. Doing so can be a lifesaver. At Depart Smart, we help you travel like HEROES.