I just happened to be reading this article while lounging in my hotel room in, of all places, Mexico. It seems the government is stumped why tourism may be declining here. I am not an expert but taking a wild guess, it may have something to do with fewer tourists entering the country by car and air, an increasing number of cruise ships canceling dockings here, and maybe a teeny bit to do with violence.
Sadly and more seriously, the violence that was once limited to certain border towns and other locations in Mexico is now somewhat widespread, including tourist destinations like Acapulco. Of course, that is what makes the news but the fact is, there are safe places in Mexico. For example, Cancun and Cozumel are still safe meccas for tourists (note: a shooting killed seven in Cancun this month though far from the resort city’s hotel area).
I happen to be working in Veracruz this week. This is also a relatively safe location in Mexico, though difficult to convince my worrying husband who is clenching rosary beads at home awaiting my return (this is a guy who has never held rosary beads in his life!). I have seen several vehicles manned with military and machine guns going throughout the streets to keep them safe. While they may be keeping the streets safe, it is very intimidating to see two bumper-to-bumper vehicles manned with 4 masked military each. I would have loved to snap a photo but my better judgment told me to just lie low and be inconspicuous. Of course, even with military protecting the streets, common sense urges certain precautions. I have a dedicated driver, not an ideal arrangement for tourists seeking fun in the sun, but prudent when traveling alone for business here. And once I’m in my hotel room after a day of work, I stay put. No roaming the streets or looking for a local restaurant. I wish I felt more comfortable to explore Veracruz further, but to be honest, I feel safer keeping the number of locations I go to at a minimum.
Would I take walks alone here at night? No, not any more than I would in many cities back in the U.S. Indeed, based on previous travels, there are only a few destinations where safety is only a small concern, places like Hong Kong, Norway, and certain Middle East locations.
So yes, Mexico has some serious problems with tourism and maybe they will figure out solutions one day. In the meantime, this article is a great reminder for those who travel to Mexico or anywhere else:
• Always know your surroundings when traveling.
• Travel in groups rather than alone.
• Leave the jewelry home.
• Try not to look like a tourist such as reading maps, carrying big cameras, and asking for directions on the streets.