The U.S. Department of State has just issued a warning for travelers heading to Cancun after local taxis blocked access to the airport and threatened drivers and passengers of Ubers. Long since considered a legal grey area, the recent decision to allow travelers to use Ubers for travel in Cancun has inflamed tensions in the local community, with a string of high-profile assaults, crimes, and disturbances making the headlines and seeing regular travelers caught in the crossfire as a result.
With the situation escalating in recent weeks and now reaching a point where the U.S. State Department has issued a warning, it’s a serious matter that travelers looking to visit Cancun in the coming weeks will need to be aware of in order to have a safe, enjoyable trip. Here’s a look at what the State Department said about the issue, plus a re-cap of the laws and news stories surrounding this contentious issue.
Tensions Rise Over Uber In Cancun
For several years now, despite travelers and locals alike using the ride-sharing app Uber to get around Cancun, its legal status in the city has been somewhat of a grey area. Just two weeks ago, a court ruled that Uber was, in fact, operating legally in the city – yet rather than solve the problem, the ruling has only served to exacerbate it further, with a string of violent offenses carried out on both Uber drivers and passengers in throughout the month of January.
Two weeks ago, an Uber vehicle with tourists on board was attacked by taxi drivers in the Cancun Hotel Zone, while just a few days ago, a similar incident saw one Uber – carrying a family from Russia – chased down by angry taxi drivers. More recently, taxis have blocked access to the hotel zone and the airport in protest of Uber’s presence in the city — moves that could cause travelers to miss flights. As the situation escalates and travelers are advised not to use Uber when traveling to the airport or to a hotel located within the hotel zone, the U.S. State Department has issued a statement to keep travelers informed and safe.
@clicnoticias Taxistas colapsan la Zona Hotelera de Cancún, realizan bloqueos en manifestación contra Uber. #cancun #uber #taxistas #travel #viral #quintanaroo #aeropuertocancun #zonahoteleracancun #maralezama #amlo #anapatyperalta #fuerataxistas ♬ Epic Orchestra – Red Cat Blue
State Department Speaks – What Travelers Should Know
The security update was initially posted by the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Mexico yesterday before being posted on the State Department’s website as a security alert. It covers the entire state of Quintana Roo, meaning its warning is applicable not just to Cancun but to other popular destinations such as Tulum and Playa Del Carmen.
The alert reads:
“In the wake of recent incidents involving taxi and Uber drivers in Quintana Roo, U.S. citizens are reminded of guidance provided on Travel.State.gov, specifically about the use of application-based transportation services in Mexico, which states: Application-based car services such as Uber and Cabify are available in many Mexican cities, and generally offer another safe alternative to taxis. Official complaints against Uber and other drivers do occur, however, and past disputes between these services and local taxi unions have occasionally turned violent, resulting in injuries to U.S. citizens in some instances.”
@oskar_trips Se está volviendo un caos #cancun los turistas están perdiendo vuelos y si tomas #uber ♬ sonido original – Oscar
The rise in popularity of ride-sharing apps such as Uber follows expensive and unsafe practices that are seemingly widespread throughout Cancun. Taxis in the city have been accused of overcharging and resorting to illegal practices, such as refusing to go by the meter fare when ferrying travelers around the city, while fares in Cancun are notoriously high.
While fears about the safety of Uber in Cancun are set to linger, changes have already been made to ensure rides are safer for travelers. The app will not allow travelers to book rides in the hotel zone, and Ubers are not allowed at the airport. With these two locations being frequent flashpoints for trouble, hopefully, the situation will calm down in the coming weeks.
Comments from Mayor Ana Patricia Peralta also suggest a firm stance against disturbances is on the cards, as she was recently heard stating she would not allow “a small group to damage the reputation of the resort and human safety.” In the meantime, travelers are advised to pre-book any trips to or from the airport with a licensed taxi company to avoid issues such as overcharging.
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