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Karisma Exec Speaks About Violence in Mexico, Says Riviera Maya is SafeMarch 3, 2009 By: Joe Pike
Mandy Chomat, vice president of marketing and sales for Karisma Hotels & Resorts, vented to Travel Agent Tuesday about the false belief by consumers that the Riviera Maya and other non-U.S. bordering Mexico territories are unsafe. A string of brutal murders of local police officials earlier this month along with other ongoing violence in Mexico prompted the State Department to issue an official travel alert for all Americans planning to travel to Mexico.
What gets lost in the alert, however, is the fact that only U.S. bordering towns, mainly Tijuana, have been the scenes of the crime. But the Riviera Maya, Los Cabos and other territories far away from the crime scenes, are being found guilty by association in clients' eyes and Chomat can’t take it anymore.
In a one-on-one phone interview, Chomat told us that operators and agents, now, more than ever, need to stress to their clients that not all of Mexico is unsafe. Despite attacks near the U.S border, other territories like the Riviera Maya have remained just as safe as they've always been. Although repeat customers will continue to flock to Karisma’s Riviera Maya properties, Chomat is concerned that the exaggerated news may turn off honeymooners and other first-time visitors.
“It’s frustrating because what is going on in Mexico City and its border has nothing to do with Cancun, the Riviera Maya or other parts of Mexico that are no where near where the violence is occurring,” Chomat told us. “We’ve even gone as far as to show operators and agents maps to point out how far away our destination is from the border towns.”
Chomat isn’t alone in his frustration. He said he recently met with hoteliers from Los Cabos and other regions in Mexico that were being unfairly linked to the violence. “People see a warning to Mexico and think its all of Mexico,” Chomat says. “I don't think they realize how big of a country it really is. We really need agents and operators to stress this fact to them.”
Chomat recently visited the Riviera Maya and vouches for the territory's safety. “It is not a border town, there are no drug routes here, this is a tourist destination,” he argues. “There is tight security at all of our hotels and about 95 percent of our clients use private transfers from the airport.
“I don’t know how long it is going to take for everything in Mexico to return to normal, it could take some time,” he continued. “But the belief that the Rivera Maya is unsafe is something that needs to be taken care of right now. We need all the help we can get to spread the word that we are in no way tied to any of the violence that occurred in the border towns. The highest levels of the Mexico government really need to straighten this mess out.”