April 6, 2024
Today´s Paper

Is it safe to travel to Tulum or Riviera Maya this Spring Break?

In two days, there’ve been multiple developments surrounding the kidnapping and shooting of four Americans in the Mexican city of Matamoros, just across the border from Brownsville, Texas. Two of the Americans were killed. A Mexican woman was also killed when she was caught in the gunfire aimed at the Americans’ minivan. The Americans went to the city for cosmetic surgery.

Meanwhile, many in Kansas City are planning spring break vacations, some in Mexico.

Is it safe to travel to Tulum or Riviera Maya this Spring Break?

Sonora Kelly owns Paradise Travel, LLC in Bonner Springs. She and several other travel agents KCTV5 spoke with said bookings to Mexican resort cities remain strong.

“Especially now that there’s nonstop air to Cancun from Kansas City on a seasonal basis, phones have just been ringing off the hook,” said Kelly.

She said it’s clear to her that customers understand a border trip to a drug cartel hot spot is different from an all-inclusive resort.

Zachary Rabinor, founder and CEO of Journey Mexico, noted that Matamoros, in the state of Tamaulipas, has long been known for drug-related gang violence.

Is it safe to travel to Tulum or Riviera Maya this Spring Break?

The U.S. Department of State has had a “do not travel” warning in Tamaulipas for years, he said.

The State Department’s travel advisories follow of scale of 1 to 4. “Do not travel” is level 4. Most Mexico’s states are at level 2: “exercise increased caution.”  That includes Quintana Roo state, where Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Riviera Maya are located.

Is it safe to travel to Tulum or Riviera Maya this Spring Break?

“The border town of Matamoros is not anywhere near major tourist destinations such as Riviera Maya, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Mita, Mexico City, San Miguel Allende, Oaxaca, or Yucatan Peninsula therefore should not affect perceptions about safety and traveling to these areas,” Rabinor said. “To put things in perspective, Matamoros is about 1,360 miles away from Cancun; that’s about the equivalent distance from the Texas side of the border to Chicago, Illinois.”

For that matter, many European countries are also on the “exercise increased caution” list. In Europe, the reason is typically the threat of terrorism and/or civil unrest. In Mexico, the reason is typically kidnapping and/or crime.

Is it safe to travel to Tulum or Riviera Maya this Spring Break?

“There are regions in Mexico that are considered high risk that we actually ask our clients to defer non-essential travel, but most of the country is medium risk. Most of the major concern is petty crime,” said Jaime Lopez-Aranda, Senior Security Manager Intelligence and Assistance at International SOS, a medical and security services company.

He lives in Mexico City and notes that every city has areas that are unwise to visit.

“I mean, you are traveling to a different country,” he remarked. “You should use caution.”

Kelly’s focus is on cruises and all-inclusive resorts. She said the safest way to explore off resort property is to have the hotel book a tour, give feedback on a restaurant, and book a taxi.

Is it safe to travel to Tulum or Riviera Maya this Spring Break?

Taxis are a risk, Lopez-Aranda said, particularly hailing a taxi on the street.

“For example, you’re at the airport, you have the official taxis from the airport. Those are relatively safe. The hotel can arrange for ground transportation for you as well. Those are relatively safe. And the apps [like Uber and Lyft] do undertake background checks of the drivers and there’s a record of the trip which makes it safer,” he explained. “The problem with hailing a cab on the street is you could end up boarding a fake cab or you can be a victim of robbery.”

He also advises being picky about what ATMs you use. Don’t use one on the street, he said, not even in a tourist area, busy or quiet.

Is it safe to travel to Tulum or Riviera Maya this Spring Break?

“For the ATMs, the best option is to use the ones that are in the hotels or within shopping malls,” said Lopez-Aranda.

Journey Mexico, a luxury travel company based in Mexico recently created an interactive map showing all of Mexico coded by the State Department travel advisories.

The State Department provides details explaining the basis for the advisory levels. You can find the Mexican states here. You can find the advisories for all nations here.


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