Thursday, May 30, 2024

Is Mexico safe for tourists right now?

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The killing of two Australian brothers and their American friend while on a surfing trip in the Baja California peninsula has raised safety concerns over travel to Mexico.

San Diego resident Jack Carter Rhoad, along with Jake and Callum Robinson failed to show up at their booked accommodation and were reported missing on Saturday, 27 April.

The trio’s bodies were later found at the bottom of a covered well in La Bocana, near Ensenada – an area popular with tourists, specifically surfers, but also known for cartel violence.

Local authorities believe that the three men were approached by an armed group who tried to carjack the tourists’ white pick-up truck when the encounter turned deadly. Three Mexican citizens have been charged with a crime equivalent to kidnapping in connection with the killings.

Mexico, a year-round hotspot for white sand, buzzing nightlife and world-class surf swells, attracts millions of tourists each year, and travellers with trips booked may be questioning the decision to holiday there.

Although the Foreign Office (FCDO) considers most of Mexico generally safe to travel to, here’s the latest travel advice, plus all the key questions and answers.

What does the Foreign Office say?

Tourist resorts are generally considered safe as the Mexican government makes an effort to protect major traveller destinations including Cancun, Cozumel, Los Cabos, Nuevo Vallarta, Playa del Carmen and Puerto Vallarta.

However, the FCDO “advise against all but essential travel to parts of Mexico”.

Areas to avoid include:

  • Tijuana – except airside transit through Tijuana airport
  • Tecate
  • Within 40km of the Guatemalan border
  • Federal Highway 199
  • Chihuahua – except the city of Chihuahua
  • Colima – except the city of Manzanillo
  • Guanajuato – including all areas southwest of road 45D
  • Guerrero
  • Jalisco – including all areas south and southwest of Lake Chapala to the border with the state of Colima
  • Michoacán – except the city of Morelia and the town of Pátzcuaro
  • Sinaloa – except the cities of Los Mochis and Mazatlán
  • Tamaulipas
  • Zacatecas

The FCDO also advises against all but essential travel to these northern municipalities:

  • Bolaños
  • Chimaltitán
  • Colotlán
  • Hostotipaquillo
  • Huejúcar
  • Huequilla el Alto
  • Mezquitic
  • San Martin de Bolaños
  • Santa Maria de los Ángeles
  • Totatiche
  • Villa Guerrero

How to stay safe in Mexico?

The FCDO advises British tourists to remain vigilant at all times: “There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets.”

Among the listed safety and security risks to be aware of:

  • Violent political demonstrations, common in Mexico City
  • Street crime in tourist resort areas including pickpocketing
  • Withdrawing large amounts of money from an ATM
  • Extortion from police officers 
  • Drink spiking
  • Sexual assault
  • Drug-related violence
  • Car-jackings by unofficial roadblocks along the Pacific Highway 

To stay safe, the FCDO advises travellers to research destinations thoroughly, only travel during daylight hours when possible, monitor local media and inform trusted contacts of their travel plans.

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