Over the course of the next three months, Mexico will play host to a who's who of the world's most influential leaders.Lopez-Negrete does "not at all dispute the fact that there are parts of Mexico that are prone to violent incidents and are not currently safe for travel," though he may overstate things when he adds that "The same could be said of Austin, Houston or Dallas, for that matter." There is no place in Texas, or perhaps the world, outside a war zone, as violence prone as Juarez.
In April, the World Economic Forum on Latin America will take place in Puerto Vallarta. In May, leading tourism industry figures will converge on Cancún for the regional summit of the World Travel and Tourism Council. The culmination of this trifecta will take place in June, when leaders from the world's 20 largest economies will meet in Los Cabos for the annual meeting of the G20.
This hardly sounds like a place to be avoided en masse. Yet, this is precisely what the Texas government has urged its citizens to do in its most recent warning about travel to Mexico, released Tuesday and simply entitled, "DPS Advises Against Spring Break Travel to Mexico."
This warning paints Mexico with a massively broad brush, discounting nuance, logic and facts. Mexico remains Texas' No. 1 trading partner and largest export market — in other words we are "friends" and as such, are disappointed by this travel warning.
In 2011, 22.7 million international tourists visited Mexico (not including those who arrived by cruise line or border crossings), trumping our previous tourism record, set in 2008. Furthermore, Mexico continues to be the No. 1 destination for American travelers. The overwhelming majority of these tourists enjoyed our beautiful beach resorts, gastronomical delights and world-class cultural offerings without the slightest negative incidents.
That said, when Houston recently posted its lowest murder rate in nearly five decades, Grits reminded celebrants that the record-low still left H-Town's murder rate higher than Mexico City's (9.4 per 100,000 compared to 8.3). The missus and I visited Mexico City last summer with a then-4-year old with no incident whatsoever, as is typical, and had a wonderful time.
Now, should vacationers be visiting Juarez, or for that matter, Acapulco? Probably not, though even in Acapulco the State Department says, "the popular tourist area of Diamante, just south of the city, has been less affected by violence." My own planned vacation in Mexico this summer has shifted from Veracruz to the Yucatan/Quintana Roo because of drug-related violence - perhaps being more careful than necessary, but why risk it?
So I certainly agree Americans should exercise caution visiting parts of Mexico (or Miami, or Chicago, or Houston, or LA), but the DPS travel advisory paints with too broad a brush. By contrast, the US State Department travel advisory offers a detailed, frequently updated state-by-state breakdown of which parts of Mexico to avoid and which are relatively safe. Most of the major spring break sites with the notable exceptions of Acapulco and Baja, appear OK. (MORE: Commenter Paul-UK supplies a link to the United Kingdom's travel advisory on Mexico.)
Mexico is an enormous place, not to mention one of the Texas' pivotal economic partners. DPS should stop this sort of politicized demagoguery - which seems aimed more at sucking away tourist dollars than promoting public safety - and tell anyone who asks about Mexican travel to check with the State Department.