Steady Uptick In Violence Prompts Fresh Concern For Tourists In Quintana Roo
The US Secretary of State has released a new travel advisory for Cancun and the rest of Quintana Roo, calling for tourists to exercise increased caution. The updated advice comes in response to increased violent crime across the state.
According to the most recent posting on the Secretary of State’s page, visitors to Quintana Roo should “exercise increased caution due to crime.” The regional description noted that:
“While not directed at tourists, shootings between rival gangs have killed or injured innocent bystanders. Additionally, U.S. citizens have been the victims of both non-violent and violent crimes in tourist and non-tourist areas.”
The newly added paragraph states:
“There are no travel restrictions for U.S. government employees in Quintana Roo state. However, U.S. government employees are advised to exercise increased caution after dark in downtown areas of Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen, and to remain in well-lit pedestrian streets and tourist zones.”
Quintana Roo has been struggling with a surge in violent crime that has been directly correlated to its increased popularity. The masses of tourists visiting the region have transformed Cancun and Tulum into valuable areas for gangs seeking to capitalize on the saturated drug market. Although most of the violence is directed at rival gangs, visitors frequently find themselves caught in the crossfire and, more recently, the victims of robberies.
Just last week, a dramatic daylight robbery left revelers traumatized as armed men stormed the beach at Isla Blanca on jet skis. As many as six men robbed tourists and an armed military patrolman of their belongings, attacking one person and shooting another. Neither of those attacked had life-threatening injuries.
Local businesses have also found themselves on the receiving end of violence as threats or retaliation for refusing to be extorted. One particularly shocking event saw five downtown Cancun bars attacked to varying degrees of brutality.
Armed men opened fire on two of the establishment, killing three people and wounding numerous others. Harrowing CCTV footage shows three of the assailants executing a security guard at point-blank range, highlighting the brute nature of the gangs operating in the area. Several other businesses were victims of arson and vandalism on the same evening.
It can’t be stressed enough that the majority of tourists visiting the Quintana Roo region are safe. Millions of visitors from across the world arrive on the shores of the Mexican Caribbean every year and have a wonderful time, free of any danger. In fact, despite the increased violence, Cancun is still the most popular foreign destination for Americans, with the figure growing each season.
Statistics have suggested that Cancun is technically safer for tourists than destinations like Paris or Las Vegas, which are generally considered safe vacation spots for Americans. Although the violent crime in the region is far more concerning, crime directly affecting tourists is lower than in these places.
Tourists arriving in Cancun should observe a higher degree of care when moving around areas outside the hotel zone. Sticking to the beaches and patrolled regions of the city helps remove any potential threat.
Avoiding drugs and any other illegal activities at all costs should be a priority. Actively searching for, buying, selling, or taking drugs drastically increases the likelihood of danger for visitors. The government has already started an initiative to warn tourists of the consequences of being caught with drugs. Foreigners could face years in jail, even if caught with a small amount.
Many hotel guests are now required to sign a form acknowledging the consequences and promising not to partake in the drug trade.
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