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Despite travel advisory, negative press, millions flock to Cancun

Cancun, Q.R. — Despite news reports, a travel advisory and other insecurity concerns, visitors to the main tourist destinations in Mexico continue to arrive by the millions.

In August, the U.S. issued a travel advisory for several areas of Mexico including Cancún and Riviera Maya, two of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. While some in the tourist industry are trying to address the issues, others are doubling down on selling vacation packages as safe options.

In fact, the U.S. State Department reports in its current travel advisory for Mexico, “There is no evidence that criminal organizations have targeted U.S. citizens based on their nationality. Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the level of drug-related violence and crime that are reported in the border region or in areas along major trafficking routes.

Yet, tourism officials want to make sure tourists feel safe visiting the country’s hot spots. Rodrigo Esponda, the managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board says, “We have launched a new action plan with key steps to make sure Cabo is viewed as a safe destination with a rapid-response network that includes increased video surveillance.”

He notes that some 90 percent of locals work in hospitality, and adds that last year, Los Cabos hosted 2.1 million vacationers of which 75 percent were from outside the country. He explained that the new action plan has been launched through a private-public partnership with $47 million USD in funding.

In Cancún, army forces have arrived to help provide more security for the region. The city’s mayor, Remberto Estrada Barba, says the rise in crime is due mainly to the city’s rapid growth.

Despite insecurity, government reports show that already in 2017, nearly 8 million visitors have vacationed between Cancun and Mexico’s popular Riviera Maya. Last year, Mexico saw 35 million visitors, up 9 percent from 2015. Tourism is forecast to become the third largest source of revenue for the country by 2018.

Tim Bradley, a security expert at Florida-based IMG GlobalSecur says, “There are many parts of Mexico you don’t want to be after midnight,” quickly pointing out that violence can occur anywhere, including the U.S., but in areas with high levels of violence, tourists should be particularly careful.

Yet in Miami, violence has increased so dramatically this year that authorities have closed Miami Beach two hours earlier each night as of mid-October. According to Miami Hearald, “Miami Beach will close the beach two hours earlier to deter criminals from preying on tourists and residents.”

Miami commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez said, “We need to tell the tourists, after 10 PM, we would rather not be on the beach because we have had a very difficult time with violent crimes,” noting that tourists are now being targeted at night, and that one of those crimes included a Miami tourist being raped on the beach.

The American State Department admits there are no known reports of American tourists being targeted in murders in Mexico.