Hotels and Other Businesses Want Extra Protection As Busy Season Approaches
Several business organizations in the Mexican Caribbean are pleading for extra security systems as the busy Easter season rolls in. Increased violence in the region has prompted renewed requests.
Quintana Roo has been experiencing a surge in violent crime over the past year. Several factors have contributed to the problem, including several organized crime groups battling for territory. As tourists, unfortunately, provide a strong market for illegal drug trades, the fast-growing region is a prime target for these gangs.
The violence rarely touches tourists visiting Cancun or other cities, but the reputation of the state as a safe destination is at stake when the crime figures begin to roll in. In Quintana Roo, there have already been over 100 homicides since the start of the year, including 21 over a ten-day period this month. To reiterate, virtually all of these deaths have been directly linked to organized crime in some manner, affecting individuals involved and not visiting foreigners. Still, the statistics remain a worrying sight for those considering a trip to the Mexican Caribbean.
It is these statistics, as well as some of the high-profile incidents, that have made the hoteliers and other businesses worried. They are concerned both with the reputation of the region and the safety of the tourists.
The government has increased the security presence in the state over the past few months, including the introduction of the Tourist Security Battalion. The battalion is a new branch of the National guard specifically designed to patrol and protect the most popular tourist spots in Quintana Roo. It was hoped that their presence would reduce the likelihood of gangs functioning near tourists and it has shown some success.
However, several events have taken place in restaurants and hotel resorts since then. It is unclear if these have happened to make it easier to conduct business without the battalion nearby.
One of the most high-profile incidents took place at the Xcaret Hotel, when two men were assassinated in the middle of the popular resort in broad daylight. Both men were high-level members of a Canadian-Vietnamese crime syndicate and no tourists were hurt in the events, but the killing sparked concern across the world for the potential collateral damage these events can create.
Two tourists were killed in Tulum towards the end of 2021 in a similar situation after they were caught in the crossfire between rival gangs. Again, neither were involved in any way, but the situation highlighted the potential risks to tourists.
The continued problems being faced by the state means the hotels want an increase in almost all aspects of the current plan. The groups acknowledged the changes that have already been made, but want more patrols, increased police presence, and continued expansion of the surveillance systems in place.
One of the plans enacted recently saw the police gain access to surveillance systems of many restaurants, bars, and hotels in the region in the hope that any responses from the police or other bodies cane preemptive instead of reactive.
The problems are going to persist for some time, so the priority of the state is to protect the tourist zones as much as possible. The vast majority of tourists will go about their trips blissfully unaware of any issues outside of the hotel zone. But as homicides continue to rise in other parts of the city, concern from the tourist industry will grow too, as the likelihood of something like Tulum could happen again.
Tourists shouldn’t be worried about visiting Cancun. It’s still statistically very safe, regardless of the crime numbers in other parts of the city. But it is still a problem that needs to be solved if Cancun is to remain at the top of the world’s most sought-after destinations.
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