This week, the United States Department of State released a recent update about travel advisories for Mexico.
Upon initial examination, it is evident that there have been little alterations: The locations previously identified by the State Department as posing the greatest risk to tourists have retained their designation, while those identified as lower-risk destinations have also maintained their classification.
However, there are still other aspects to analyze regarding this recent warning, hence we shall proceed to examine it in detail.
First, a Quick Summary
In contrast to the prevailing practice in most nations, when the State Department designates a whole country under a single category when disseminating travel advisories, the United States adopts a distinct approach by issuing and regularly updating recommendations for individual states inside Mexico. Consequently, Mexico has developed a comprehensive map that evaluates the security micro-climate of each of its 32 states.
As per the State Department, several locations in Mexico continue to face significant risks associated with violent crimes such as homicide, abduction, carjacking, and robbery.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that the presence of an elevated risk of violent crime in a particular city or state does not necessarily imply that the entirety of the country is confronted with identical challenges. Therefore, it is logical to analyze and categorize hazards and dangers based on geographical divisions such as states.
While it is not mandatory for U.S. civilians and other travelers to comply with the formal limits imposed on U.S. government workers, it is strongly advised to take them into consideration. Moreover, these restrictions provide valuable insights into the high-risk destinations for tourists to explore.
Additionally, it is important to consider that even within states categorized as having a higher risk, the State Department provides information regarding the specific places that pose the greatest danger, as well as the cities that currently have no active restrictions in place.
Now, Let’s Check in on Mexico’s Most Popular Destinations
Although no place can be considered flawless, it is noteworthy that Mexico’s major tourist destinations have generally managed to dodge the most severe travel advisories issued by the State Department. This situation persists throughout the current week.
Baja California Sur, the state located at the southern extremity of the Baja peninsula, with prominent destinations such as Cabo San Lucas, San José del Cabo, Todos Santos, and La Paz, continues to be classified as Level 2, denoting the advisory of “Exercise Increased Caution.” It is worth noting that European countries such as Germany, France, and Italy currently possess Level 2 advisories.
At now, there are no existing travel restrictions in effect for any region within Baja California Sur. Consequently, destinations such as Cabo and La Paz are currently devoid of significant travel limitations.
A similar observation may be made regarding Quintana Roo, the Mexican state situated along the Caribbean coast, renowned for its highly sought-after tourist spots such as Cancún, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. Once again, it is important to note that no location can guarantee absolute safety. However, it is widely acknowledged that the coastal communities of Quintana Roo in Mexico continue to be regarded as some of the most secure destinations for vacationers.
On the other hand, the situation in Jalisco and Nayarit, located on the Pacific coast of Mexico, presents a more intricate scenario. These states are subject to advisories similar to Level 3, denoting the recommendation to “Reconsider Travel.” The prevalence of persistent violent crime, encompassing gang-related incidents and instances of abduction, is the primary reason for this situation. The State Department acknowledges that these criminal activities have sometimes occurred in areas of Guadalajara that are commonly visited by tourists.
It should be noted that there are currently no travel limitations imposed by the United States government for the Guadalajara metro region, the well-liked seaside resort of Puerto Vallarta, the towns of Punta Mita and Sayulita in the Riviera Nayarit region located north of Puerto Vallarta, or the developing expatriate hubs of Chapala and Ajijic. Currently, the sole limitations pertain to areas situated south of Guadalajara and in close proximity to the Jalisco-Michoacán border.
What About Some Other Noteworthy Destinations?
According to the latest advice, Mexico City continues to be classified as a Level 2 equivalent, while the neighboring State of Mexico is classified at a Level 3 equivalent. This implies that Mexico City maintains a relatively secure environment for tourists; however, it is advisable to exercise additional caution when exploring areas outside the city.
Regrettably, the states of Coahuila, Chihuahua, Sonora, and Baja California, which are situated along the border between the United States and Mexico, continue to be subject to advisories of Level 3, denoting the need for careful consideration of travel plans, owing to the persistent presence of criminal activities in close proximity to the border region. The Department of State has implemented specific advisories for various cities and locations in the northern states, with particular emphasis on the border metropolis of Ciudad Juarez, the city of Chihuahua, and the growing tourist destination of Copper Canyon.
On the contrary, individuals embarking on journeys to northern Baja locations such as Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada, and Valle de Guadalupe might find solace in the absence of travel restrictions imposed by the United States government in these areas.
Which Areas Are the Most Dangerous?
Regrettably, the six states that were designated as Level 4 equivalent, or “Do Not Travel,” in February, continue to be subject to this elevated advisory at present. The aforementioned states are Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, and Zacatecas.
Regrettably, for anybody intending to visit Taxco, Ixtapa, and/or Acapulco within the state of Guerrero, it is important to note that the United States government advises exercising caution when traveling to Taxco, while travel to Ixtapa and Acapulco is strongly discouraged.
For individuals considering a visit to Mazatlán in the state of Sinaloa, it is noteworthy that the U.S. government currently allows travel to and from Mazatlán, albeit with the exception of car travel. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the U.S. government restricts its employees to accommodations solely within the Zona Dorada and the old town center.
Now, Some Good News
If one has a longstanding desire to explore the lesser-known attractions in the states of Yucatán (located to the west of Quintana Roo) and Campeche on the Yucatán Peninsula, it can be confidently said that these destinations are considered secure.
These two states are subject to Level 1 alerts, rendering them the most secure states within Mexico. While it is typically advised against disregarding caution entirely, it is widely acknowledged that the Yucatán Peninsula remains the most secure region in Mexico for tourists.
In the southern region of Mexico’s Pacific coast, the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca are now subject to advisories classified at Level 2. If individuals have intentions to visit San Cristobal de las Casas and/or Puerto Escondido in the near future, it is advisable to adopt similar precautionary measures as one would in destinations such as Cabo and Cancún.
To access a comprehensive compilation of state-level advisories and local travel warnings, please refer to the complete Mexico travel advisory provided by the State Department.
Finally, a Reminder to Travel Safely
Even within the regions of Mexico that are considered to have relatively low crime rates, some incidents of negative occurrences nonetheless transpire. Engaging in proactive measures to safeguard oneself and loved ones is a prudent practice that yields favorable outcomes in the long run.
The State Department strongly discourages traveling between cities after nightfall, hailing cabs on the street, venturing alone into rural locations, and driving from the U.S.-Mexico border to interior regions, regardless of the location inside Mexico. Furthermore, individuals have the option to participate in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) as a means to register their travel plans and effectively communicate important information to their family members.
When traveling in Mexico, it is advisable to use caution when utilizing ATMs and banking facilities, as well as to refrain from ostentatiously displaying conspicuous indicators of affluence. It is advisable to refrain from wearing costly attire and accessories while traversing public thoroughfares.
In the event of an emergency, it is advisable to promptly contact the emergency services by dialing 911 for quick assistance. In the event of a potential need, it is advisable to submit a police report to the local law enforcement agency. Additionally, anyone seeking additional assistance is encouraged to reach out to the U.S. Embassy or the nearest U.S. consulate.