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(CNN) The kidnapping and murder of an American tourist this week in the Mexican city of Matamoros, near the border with Brownsville, Texas, has put a big spotlight on violence in a country that draws millions of foreign tourists each year. I guess.
And as spring break kicks off at popular beach resorts in the western and southern parts of the country, hundreds of miles away, safety concerns can come to mind.
Here’s what you need to know about Mexico travel safety.
Mexico has 32 states, and the US State Department has issued “no travel” advisories for six states, including Tamaulipas, home to Matamoros.
Zachary Rabiner, founder and chief executive of travel company Journey Mexico, said this week’s riots occurred far from some of Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations. . .
“To put things into perspective, Matamoros is about 1,360 miles from Cancun, which is roughly the distance from the Texas side of the border to Chicago, Illinois,” says Create Customized Luxury Trips. Rabinor of the company said.
Seven of Mexico’s states are listed one category below the State Department’s “Rethink Travel” category, and 17 are listed in the “Take More Care” section.
“Crime and Kidnapping” is cited as a cause for recommendation in some states in each of these three categories, including Tamaulipas. The remaining recommendations cite ‘crime’ as a reason not to travel, reconsider, or pay attention.
“Take the usual precautions” is the guidance for the provinces of Campeche and Yucatan on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom have also issued detailed travel warnings related to Mexico.
Watch this interactive content on CNN.com
Situational awareness anywhere
Playa del Carmen and Cancun, in Quintana Roo, are welcoming an influx of spring break tourists, and the State Department has advised travelers to “exercise greater caution due to crime and kidnapping.” .
Rabinor highlighted other popular destinations with “more cautious exercise” recommendations, such as France and the Bahamas. France is on alert due to possible terrorism and social unrest. Crime is cited as a reason for caution in the Bahamas.
The State Department notes in its Quintana Roo advisory that violence and criminal activity can occur anywhere “including popular tourist destinations.”
“Travelers should maintain a high degree of situational awareness, avoid areas where illegal activity is taking place, and quickly leave potentially dangerous situations,” the advisory warns.
Jaime Lopez Aranda, senior security manager at travel risk management firm International SOS, says these popular resorts are still fairly safe.
“It is relatively safe for travelers to head to major cities and tourist destinations such as Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey,” Lopez Aranda told CNN Travel.
López Aranda, who lives in Mexico City, said the danger of petty crime is persistent and precautions need to be taken, adding: “The most popular places are relatively safe for all kinds of travelers.” Told.
Journey Mexico has more than 50 employees in the country and is constantly on the lookout for potential risks, Rabiner said.
“With proper preparation and information, we are confident that traveling to and within Mexico will continue to be a great option.
If the arrival of international flights in January is any indication, the risks associated with traveling to parts of Mexico aren’t keeping visitors away from the country as a whole.
International passenger numbers increased by 13% in January compared to January 2019, before the pandemic spread across the globe.
Notes and plans
Caution and situational awareness are key across the country and around the world.
Regarding travel in Mexico, Lopez Aranda said precautions may include:
• Travel in a private vehicle with a trusted driver
• Travel outside city centers or high-risk areas during the day only
• Avoid big city trouble spots
• Avoid traveling alone
• Stay informed through news and government alerts
• Make sure your mobile device is charged
All of these tips are measures at your destination, but much of the work to ensure the safest travel possible is done before anything is booked.
You should research the security and medical risks of any destination you are considering and make sure you are confident with your accommodation, transportation, communications and security arrangements, Lopez Aranda says.
“It’s important to share all your plans with friends and family at home. When traveling, you need to stay in constant communication to ensure your safety and discuss any potential risks that may arise.” he says.
You will also need copies of your documents, contact information for your country’s embassy or consulate, and the location of the nearest hospital. Insurance that covers you at your destination is also important.
trust your intuition
The Journey Mexico website links to US State Department recommendations, as well as travel guides for citizens of other countries, including the UK and Australia.
The company also references conflicts between rival criminal gangs in different parts of Mexico in its own “Is Mexico Safe?” safety assessment.
“Though these conflicts can be unpredictable, they mostly occur between organized crime groups and between organizations, and are very rare in tourist areas.
The site advises travelers to avoid pickpockets and robberies, such as using ATMs only in safe areas, using reputable private transportation, not wearing expensive jewelry, and avoiding deserted, unlit areas. It also includes precautions to avoid.
If it makes you uncomfortable, try to leave the situation or environment immediately, says Lopez-Aranda.
Because “your intuition is often right”.