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Cancun/Riviera Maya is very safe; what you need to know

Fact From Fiction - Cancun/Riviera Maya is safe and here is what you need to know...

Spring Break Update: Is Cancun Safe?

March 03, 2012 | Posted in Practical Travel Tips | Fodor's Guest Blogger

By Marlise Kast

Replete with resorts, Cancun is one of the safest cities in Mexico—and well removed from border violence. In fact, it's 1,300 miles from Cancun to the northern border of Mexico (the same distance from New York to Texas). Cancun’s crime rate is much lower than that of most U.S. cities. Mexico is a very large country and the resort city of Cancun continues to be a safe destination for visitors. Here are answers to four of today's most common questions about safety in the area.

How safe will I feel in the Hotel Zone?
Cancun’s Hotel Zone ("Zona Hotelero") is a high-trafficked tourist area, making it extremely safe for those who want to relax at the beach or explore the string of shops and restaurants that line Boulevard Kukulcán. In the past year, security has increased on this main strip, which means you’ll most likely see armed Tourist Police driving up and down the Boulevard. There is also a security checkpoint that marks the entrance to the Hotel Zone on Boulevard Kukulcán in front of Playa Delfines. Tourists are rarely stopped here.

Can I still visit Downtown Cancun?
Downtown Cancun ("El Centro") offers more culture than Hotel Zone, but due to the lack of tourists in this area, many travelers tend to avoid El Centro altogether. The "upper class" section from Av. Tulum to Av. Bonampak, is considered the safest part of El Centro. For those who intend to spend time in this downtown area, the dark streets of Av. Yachilan and the sector beyond Chichen Itza should be avoided at night. The somewhat questionable area of Las Palapas caters to budget travelers, and is extremely popular with locals, transvestites, and gays. In August 2010, eight people were killed when a gang burned down a bar near El Centro’s Bullring at Plaza de Toros. This act of violence has resulted in the C4 Surveillance and Rescue Center installing video cameras in strategic points throughout the city. Additionally, an emergency 911 Call Center is now in place.

What about the U.S. government warning?
Though more extreme than a travel advisory, the State Department's latest travel warning for Mexico does note the differences in this large country: "Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime reported in the border region and in areas along major drug trafficking routes."

Are there any precautions that should I take when in Cancun?
Visitors are always encouraged to exercise caution and use common sense while traveling. This means avoiding illegal activity and staying within the main tourist areas. As Fodorite Staceye8 says "It can be unsafe anywhere you go. Just be smart about it and aware of your surroundings. Go and enjoy the beautiful cities of Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Isla Mujeres, etc."

Watching the news whether it be local, national, or reading online has brought up many concerns for people who would normally travel to Mexico this winter but are scared.  If the management and staff of Cancun All had actually never been to the Cancun/Riviera Maya area of Mexico before then we too would harbor these same concerns, but we have been to this part of Mexico many times and recently.  Over the last 6 months of 2010 we have had either the management or the staff in this area each and every month and we are hear to tell you that there is nothing to worry about.  First and foremost our company works hard to help our client's choose the all inclusive resort that is right for them and over the years we have had thousands of satisfied customers who come back to us when they take their next all inclusive vacation and they recommend our company to their friends, family and co-workers, so the last thing we would do is send people on a vacation if we weren't sure they would make it back safe and sound; that is just not good common sense.

Below are 2 different maps; the first map is of the country of Mexico which consists of 31 states and one Federal District; and as you will see from this map, Mexico is not a small country.  The majority of the increased drug violence is taking place along the US/Mexico border and this is happening because the Mexican Government has waged war on organized crime in Mexico and when this began it's not clear if even the Government knew how large the problem was in their country.  The U.S. is not blameless in this either because if it wasn't for the huge demands for drugs in the U.S. none of this would be a problem in the first place, but these are all facts of life and with the war on organized crime comes casualties.  It is unfortunate that the death toll in Mexico is on the rise because there are most likely innocent victims being caught in the war, but not innocent Americans or other Nationalities traveling to the major tourist destinations.

Cancun and the Riviera Maya are located in the state of Quintana Roo, and in this state are 2 major cities; Cancun and Playa del Carmen.  The population of these two cities have grown exponentially over the past 10 years, and keeping in mind that this is a major tourist destination they are also very transient cities; and even with this fact Quintana Roo's crime rate is lower than the state of Wyoming's crime rate here in the U.S. 

The Gulf of Mexico state where Cancun and the Riviera Maya are located has a low murder rate, comparable to that of Wyoming and Montana – two per 100,000. By contrast, in Washington, D.C., the 2008 murder rate was 31.4 per 100,000 people. Source: USA Today

safe to travel to Cancun Mexico in 2011, 2012


Here is a map of the Eastern United States where it shows that the driving distance from New York City to Orlando Florida is over 1000 miles away.  Now ask yourself; if there was a major increase in violence in an area of New York City, would you cancel your family's vacation to Disney World? 

If the media were to emphasize all the gang violence that takes place in our major cities here in the U.S. on a national or local level on a daily basis there would be a large number of people who would be afraid to leave their homes.  It is unfortunate that when something happens in Acapulco or Cancun the media address the issue as happening in Acapulco or Cancun, but when something happens in some obscure town along the US/Mexico border the media blankets the entire country of Mexico instead of reporting it as happening in one particular area.  Below are the facts about the increase in tourism to Mexico in 2010 and it's expected to increase again in 2011 so hopefully you won't miss out on your next trip to Mexico because of misinformation in the media about the major tourist areas in this large and beautiful country.

The Facts

"Some 22.6 million tourists, 80% of them North Americans are expected to have visited Mexico by the end of 2010.  As of September 2010, inbound tourism was up 18.8% year over year compared with 2009 and 6% better than 2008.  Despite the much publicized failure of Mexicana Airlines earlier this year, air arrivals from the U.S. were up 15% compared with 2009.

The growth in visitors from other countries is even greater.  Arrivals from Canada are up almost 22% over 2009, and 32% over 2008, with 1 million air arrivals this year.  Italy is up 22%; Germany, 18%; and Brazil up 94%.  And the Japanese, who are very cautious travelers are up 27%. 

New flights and increased capacity to Mexico have been added or are in the works from Air Alaska, US Airways, American Airlines, Virgin America, Air Canada, Westjet, British Airways and other carriers.  Every major airline is increasing capacity to Mexico because the demand is there.

According to a 2009 tourism ministry survey cited by Guevara, Mexico enjoys an overall 97% repeat-visit rate and received a customer satisfaction score of 9.2 out of 10 from 26,000 international visitors polled.

"They love Mexico's hospitality; they like how they are treated and they like the service; there's never been a better time to visit Mexico.  Why; the vast array of hotel offerings and highly competitive rates ensure that every dollar spent in Mexico delivers more incredible experiences to their guests."

As for the fatalities due to drug-gang activity, not one American tourist or tourist of any nationality, has been killed as a result of drug-related violence in Acapulco or any other Mexican tourism destination.

In fact Tijuana, the renowned California border town once popular with day trippers but then overrun by drug gangs, has been reclaimed by Mexican authorities and is now 'absolutely safe'."

The above facts are cited from an article from "Travel Weekly" published November 22, 2010 written by Kenneth Kiesnoski from a webinar featuring Mexico's new Secretary of Tourism, Gloria Guevara that took place on November 18, 2010.

Funjet Vacations surveyed their clients and the following is the result: 97% of Funjet customers surveyed in 2010 would return to Mexico.

We hope that after reading this information that it helps qualm any fears that you may be having about traveling to Mexico for your next all inclusive vacation.

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