In short, not a whole lot has changed at all.
On August 22, the U.S. State Department’s travel advisory page for Mexico received an update and sparked a media frenzy. The new alert—which turned out to be a routine update—happened to coincide with news out of Quintana Roo, the Mexican state home to popular tourist spots like Playa del Carmen and Tulum, that eight murdered bodies had been found outside the resort town of Cancún. The alert and the graphic deaths weren’t related, but several media outlets linked the travel warning to the recent violence. USA Today, for example, reported that the State Department issued a travel advisory Wednesday warning American tourists headed to beach getaways in Cancún, Mexico to use caution after eight bodies were discovered in the city this week. Shortly thereafter, the newspaper issued a correction, writing “an earlier version incorrectly identified the area of Mexico the travel advisory was issued.”
So what actually changed with the August 22 update? Very little. The Mexico travel advisory page is extensive, with information subdivided by state; it changes frequently based on the latest information. This time, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico updated the advisory it had for Ciudad Juárez, a border town in the northern reaches of the Mexican state of Chihuahua, more than 1,000 miles from Cancún. An original July 13 security alert from the embassy banned its personnel from traveling to the city’s downtown area due to security concerns. In the days leading up to August 22, it had reissued the warning because the threat of violence remained.
The State Department warning for Quintana Roo didn’t change. Since the State Department introduced a new four-tier advisory system back in January, the U.S. government has recommended travelers “exercise increased caution”—a level-two warning—due to crime when visiting the region. While most homicides appear to be “targeted, criminal organization assassinations,” says the State Department, bystanders have been caught in the crossfire before. But it’s reassuring to know that “there are no restrictions on U.S. government employees for travel in Quintana Roo state, which includes tourist areas such as: Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and the Riviera Maya.”
While grisly murders linked to drug cartels might make tourists question whether it’s safe to visit Mexico, the answer, even according to the extra-cautious State Department, is mostly yes. The country’s overall travel advisory sits at level two, or exercise increased caution, the same standard set for travel to the United Kingdom, Spain, South Africa, and Belize. Because of the popularity of Mexico as a destination for Americans and the complexities of the region-specific violence in the country, the State Department does break down its travel advisory levels by state—and only five (of 31) states have been given the level four “do not travel” warning “due to crime”: Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa, and Tamaulipas, none of which are popular tourist destinations.
Regardless of where in the world you’re traveling, we recommend registering with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), so that the local embassy or consulate knows your whereabouts and can get in touch in case of an emergency. Additionally, earlier this year the government of Quintana Roo launched the Guest Assist app (currently only available on Android), which offers security information to tourists visiting the stretch of beach resorts and 24-hour support in case of an emergency.
Source: Condé Nast Traveler published 1/12/2018. Link to article