Navidad on Notice
Mexico fights back against the Texas-issued travel warning
Whether it's visiting relatives or making it a white sand beach Christmas, the end of the year is one of the biggest travel times for Mexico.
But with violence from a drug war continuing, last week officials at the Texas Department of Public Safety declared a general warning for travelers to avoid the entire country of Mexico, citing violence that has occasionally encroached into tourist zones and a lack of response from the Mexican government about serious crimes committed against American citizens.
It's a bold step, considering that warnings about travel abroad are generally the province of the State Department. The federal government issued their own warning on travel to Mexico in September, though they noted that Americans should take extra precautions and stay in resort areas rather than avoid Mexico entirely.
Unlike the Texas DPS statement, the State Department strongly cautioned specifically against visiting the Northern border areas experiencing the most violence, urging United States citizens "to defer unnecessary travel to Michoacán and Tamaulipas, to parts of Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango, and Coahuila."
The severity and the breadth of the DPS statement has prompted a response from the Mexican Tourism Board, which called it "an unwarranted overreaction" and quoted the State Department travel advisory's reminder that "millions of U.S. citizens travel safely to Mexico each year. This includes tens of thousands who cross the border every day for study, tourism or business and at least one million U.S. citizens who live in Mexico."
“It’s like saying I will not go to Dallas, or New York, because there are problems or riots in Los Angeles,” resort proprietor GiorgioBrignonettold The New York Times on the American reluctance to travel to Mexico.
But despite fears and warnings, it seems that in a tight economy Americans are deciding that Mexico's travel deals are worth the risks. The number of Americans traveling to Mexico increased 13.4 percent in the first 10 months of 2010 compared to the same period of 2009.