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Issues/Questions/Concerns/Safety Traveling to Mexico? POST HERE!

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The headlines are full of stories about Mexico guaranteed to make the blood run cold: murders, beheadings, drug lords and crooked cops. It's scary stuff, and some people planning a trip down here to Mexico's Mayan Riviera (Cancun-Playa Del Carmen-Tulum) are frightened. We have received several e-mails in the past couple of weeks and seen questions on various internet travel forums asking, "How dangerous is it"? In our opinion, the truthful answer is: not very dangerous at all.


Now some folks will read this and say, "They own a hotel down there, of course they will tell people it's safe." And that's true, we do own a business, and we do want people to come here. But the people who come here aren't just guests. They are our family and our friends.people we would never place in danger. And of course we wouldn't stay in business long if our guests were the victims of crimes every time they came on vacation. Most importantly, we wouldn't live here ourselves if we thought it was dangerous.


The truth is that there is a drug war going on in Mexico. Drug lords are battling the police and each other for the lucrative shipping routes by which drugs are taken into the US and guns are smuggled back. It is dangerous and sad and has become a cause for great concern in Mexico. However this concern must be put in perspective. If you are questioning whether or not you should visit Mexico's beautiful Caribbean, look at the facts about what is happening here.


The "drug war" of Mexico is primarily about smuggling routes which lead into the US. It is in northern central Mexico where the US and Mexico share a common border that this crime wave is currently going on. There is also an increase in crime in some large Mexican cities where organized crime is active, i.e. Mexico City. However this criminal activity is NOT centered on the Caribbean side of Mexico.


The latest US State Department advisory warning tourists about crime specifically names those cities "near the US border," such as the towns of Tijuana, Nogales, Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros and most especially Ciudad Juarez as being possibly dangerous. These cities are thousands of miles from the beaches of Cancun and Playa Del Carmen. The ONLY reference in the State Department's travel advisory which mentions the Yucatan, Cancun, Playa Del Carmen or the Mayan Riviera is a reference to another State Department posting warning against drinking too much and driving mopeds.


The increase in drug related crimes and organized criminal activity is very far from the shores of the Caribbean. For example, Ciudad Juarez, which is an area of major concern for crime, is approximately 2200 miles from Cancun. This is roughly the same distance as from San Francisco to New York City. Would you refuse to vacation in northern California because of a crime wave in New York City? Hopefully not.


There is no major crime wave or drug war in Mexico's Mayan Riviera.


This is not to say that there is no crime in this part of Mexico. Cancun, being a major city, has had its problems with attacks on police officers and those involved in organized crime, much as many cities in the US have experienced in the past. But again it is important to realize that these incidents have NOT involved tourists or happened in the well-defined resort and hotel areas.


And of course any tourist zone anywhere in the world will have crime. Vacationers always will attract pickpockets, thieves and con men. And that is true of Mexico as well. However here in Playa we have a special Tourist Police force designed to help with exactly those types of crimes and to assist visitors. The tourist who uses common sense, avoids drugs, sticks to well-known tourist areas and doesn't behave foolishly (i.e. getting extremely drunk, flashing large amounts of cash, etc.) should be as safe in Playa Del Carmen as in their own home town.


We can't guarantee that you will not be the victim of a crime on vacation whether you are here in Playa Del Carmen or on the streets of Orlando. What we can say with certainty is that the drug war crimes which have frightened so many people are not a concern or an issue for tourists in the Yucatan. And we can guarantee that thousands upon thousands of visitors are still coming here each day to enjoy our white sand beaches and swim in our blue sea without incident. Join us.





Sorry RWSmith, we believe your comments contain some of the commonly held misbeliefs about Mexico that seem to be spreading throughout the media and the internet.


First, the Federales are not the only "real authority" in Mexico. The Federal Police do not patrol or otherwise exert authority over municipalities like Playa del Carmen. We have never seen the Federal Police active in the area of Playa other than on federal highways.


Second, we disagree that the local police authorities are "worthless" or have been "bought off long ago." There are many layers of police authority in a city such as Playa. There are the Tourist Police who assist visitors and police the resort areas. There are the Transit Police who handle all traffic and parking related issues. There are the local municipal police who handle general issues and problems within the city. There are the state police, the special narcotics squads and probably a couple of other divisions we have forgotten about. Our interaction with the police while living in Mexico has always been favorable. They have been polite and have assisted us with problems both at the hotel and at our home. The centuries=old tradition of the mordida (bribe or tip) to the police still does exist in Mexico and it is difficult for foreigners to understand or accept. And indeed it appears that many police officers have been bribed by the drug cartels with regard to drug enforcement. However, these facts do not indicate that all police officers are worthless or without enforcement power.


Thus, your thought that the transfer of federales to border towns in Mexico will leave the Mayan Riviera without real police protection is simply incorrect, even if such transfer were taking place. And, it is not. The Mexican government has made clear that it is utilizing the military, not the federal police, to engage criminals in the border town area. Again, there is no lack of police protection or patrol in Playa del Carmen or the surrounding areas.


We also have to note that your suggestion that the bad economy will lead to less protection in the Mayan Riviera is simply wrong. The economy of the Mayan Riviera has not suffered as much as the rest of the world has. Tourism is booming. We know this specifically as our own hotel is currently breaking every occupancy record we've ever had. Moreover, Playa del Carmen continues to show signs of economic growth. There is construction, both commercial and residential, everywhere in the area.


Finally, we have to note that Quintana Roo, which contains the Mayan Riviera, has the highest per capita income in all of Mexico. In short, the tourist trade of this area earns Mexico and Mexicans more money than any other area in the country. Thus, if you're going to suppose that Mexico is pouring resources into any part of the country, doesn't it make sense that they will first and foremost protect their biggest asset?


We appreciate your thoughts on this, but as people who are actually living here in Mexico, we think that we are in a better position than most to see what effect the drug war is having on life here. And to all appearances, the answer is: the effect is minimal.

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Thanks so much wahmsuzanne! I am going to post this letter on my website asap. I am getting so many "Mexico is dangerous" comments from people who aren't even planning on going. I am getting so sick of it. I've been telling people that if you don't act like a jacka#% you are not going to run into any trouble.

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Thanks for posting that - I've been asked by several of my guests about what's happening in Mexico. Every country has their problems with crime, but it's good to know that it's happening far from the tourist areas.

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Dear Brides:


To clarify what some recent news agencies are reporting, safety when

traveling to Cabo has not been compromised as it has in other parts of

Mexico. Our community continues to provide a safe and peaceful

environment for residents and our visitors alike.


We are fortunate to live far outside of the influence of places like

Mexico City and Tijuana whose recent reports of violence alarm and

sadden all of us.


Please rest assured you will enjoy all of the peacefulness and

tranquility you expect from our beautiful resort community. We look

forward to welcoming you.


Warmest Regards,


Coleen Fagan

Founder/Senior Consultant

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We are getting married in May 2009 and are traveling to cancun with our two babies. We are very worried with all the kidnappings going on down there. Does anyone know if there are alot in the area of tulum/cancun? The main concern is the eco-bus tour that is picking us up from the airport & taking us to Dream Tulum. I am so worried about that. Anyone that has any advice or knows any useful information please share.



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