Huge Influx Of Military Set To Safeguard Cancun Over The Busy Easter Period
More than 6000 soldiers will be stationed in Cancun and around Quintana Roo to help secure the large influx of tourists over Easter. The figure has more than tripled since the troops were first stationed in the region.
Cancun and the rest of Quintana Roo are expecting well over a million visitors this week, the Easter Holidays being one of the busiest time for the Mexican Caribbean. With so many tourists swarming the region, the government has spent the last few weeks preparing to make it as successful as possible.
One of the government’s biggest sources of concern is the safety of the tourists. In the past six months, the state has seen a significant uptick in violent crime. The majority of the incidents have been directly related to organized drug gangs operating in the area and rarely affect tourists, but some high profile problems have drawn attention to the security risk.
Back in 2021, one particularly tragic incident saw two visitors to Tulum killed at a restaurant when rival gang members opened fire on one another. The tourists were in no way the target, but caught up as collateral damage. This presents the greatest threat for visitors. As Cancun’s popularity grows, the more valuable the region becomes to drug gangs, spurring on the frequency of “turf” wars.
To help fight this, the Mexican government authorized the application of a new branch of the National Guard – the Tourist Security Battalion. This military branch’s sole purpose was to patrol the beaches and hotel zones of Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. It was hoped that their presence would lessen the likelihood of gangs operating in the area.
Since the battalion began patrolling, there have been less incidents in public but several brutal assassinations have taken place in popular resorts and restaurants in the region.
How the 6000 troops are to be allocated is currently unclear. It’s also not certain if they will remain after Easter or if the same volume of soldiers will continue to function through the summer and beyond.
With so many tourists in the area, the big military presence may be both comforting and unsettling. The reaction from most tourists has been good, and soldiers regularly take photos with beach-goers. But understandably, some families on the beaches of Cancun may feel slightly uncomfortable seeing armed soldiers walking around.
It’s part of a balancing act the government needs to perform to ensure the safety of those visiting, while also keeping the feel of a relaxed beach resort town – the reason over a million people are visiting.
With the rest of the world now opening their borders and dropping restrictions, the Mexican Caribbean’s advantage is disappearing quickly. Mexico never closed during the pandemic and never required visitors to provide proof of vaccination or even testing, turning it into one of the world’s most popular destinations almost by default.
But holding on to its new market is the biggest challenge going forward. Its reputation as a violent city is growing, regardless of whether tourists feel a direct impact. The Wall Street Journal just released a detailed feature piece documenting the growing gang-related crime in the region, and several of the major incidents have drawn worldwide news coverage.
European destinations and several other Caribbean destinations don’t hold the same reputation, and for those not already loyal repeat visitors, the possibility of danger may be enough to send them elsewhere come the next holiday period.
Those traveling to Cancun in the near future should continue to monitor the situation in regards to crowds, sargassum, and any violence if they are uncomfortable. Doing so will help to avoid any disappointment going into their vacation.
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