US Warns About Travel to Cancun, Mexico, Murders Rise
The US State Department warned citizens about traveling to parts of Mexico including Cancun and Playa del Carmen, as homicides rise at resorts popular with American tourists.
The advisory issued Tuesday upgraded the warnings for 2 states, Quintana Roo and Baja California Sur, saying turf wars between crime gangs have led to a surge in violence.
The travel advisory hits at the heart of a tourism industry that brings in $20-B a year for Mexico.
The state of Quintana Roo, where the resorts of Tulum and Cozumel are also located, gets 10-M tourists a year, fully 33% of the national total.
The warnings come as homicides in Mexico are set to rise to their highest since at least the turn of the Century. Quintana Roo alone has seen 169 murders this year.
“Shooting incidents, in which innocent bystanders have been injured or killed, have occurred” in both states, the US warned. “While most of these homicides appeared to be targeted criminal organization assassinations, turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by US citizens.”
While Quintana Roo’s advisory is now stricter, it isn’t included among the most dangerous spots in Mexico, where US government personnel are told to defer non-essential travel.
That restriction is reserved for parts of Chihuahua, Coahuila and Colima states, among others. US travel warnings of differing levels exist for most Mexican states.
Business group Coparmex, which represents more than 200 hotels, restaurants and other companies in Cancun, said the advisory will likely affect bookings this Winter, when Americans head to the beaches.
Adrian Lopez Sanchez, who heads Coparmex in Cancun, says security is beginning to improve after deteriorating earlier this year and last year.
“Tourism is very sensitive,” Lopez Sanchez said. “Warnings directed toward the U.S. market are significant.”
The American Society of Travel Agents didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.