Mexico is fast becoming one of the world’s top tourism and retirement destinations for travelers and ex-pats from around the world, despite inaccurate media portrayals of violence, which in reality remains isolated along its northern border. In fact, according to both the U.S. State Department and Mexican Tourism Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu, millions of U.S. citizens visit Mexico safely each year and no safety advisories have been in effect for popular tourist destinations, including Cancun, the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Vallarta, Tulum and Cabo San Lucas.
“We have concerns in some parts of the country, but they are very geographically specific,” shared Ruiz Massieu in a recent interview with Travel Weekly. “We have seen our arrival numbers going up in terms of both international arrivals and spending. The market is not reflecting concern about Mexico.”
In addition, U.N. data shows that Mexico is not even listed among the top 36 nations with the highest murder rates – a list that does include the supposedly easygoing countries of Sweden and Switzerland – while the assault rate in the U.S. is actually five times higher than that of Mexico. Add to this the fact that many other much smaller Caribbean nations have two, three or even four times the murder rates of Mexico and the picture starts to get much clearer.
Mexico’s Yucatan state and the state of Quintana Roo – both of which are located on the Yucatan Peninsula along Mexico’s easternmost shores – are considered to be just as safe as states found throughout the rural U.S., thanks to their even lower homicide and assault rates. To really put it in perspective, on average more than 150,000 Americans visit Mexico safely every day.
“The southernmost five states – Quintana Roo, Yucatan, Campeche, Chiapas and Tabasco – comprise the greatest archaeological wealth we have,” Rodolfo Lopez-Negrete, CEO of the Mexican Tourism Board, told Travel Weekly. “Cancun is not only a wonderful destination, but can be a hub of distribution to spread tourists through the region – tourists who fly in from international markets. It’s an area that has cultural attributes comparable to China, Egypt and Greece.”
This brings up another important point when it comes to understanding safety in Mexico; the nation is the 14th largest in the world and spans more than 2,000 miles from one coast to the other, which means the areas that are still experiencing some violence can (and do) remain quite isolated from the rest of the country. In fact, Mexico City is actually four times safer than Washington D.C. and Mexico overall has very low violent crime rates – including murder, assault, rape and kidnapping – for anyone who is not involved directly in the drug trade.
“More than 20 million U.S. citizens visited Mexico in 2012,” writes the U.S. State Department website. “There is no evidence that criminal organizations have targeted U.S. visitors and residents based on their nationality.”