Reports of an extremely violent 36 hours in Cancun earlier this month are making the rounds in the U.S. consumer media this week.
Stemming from a report posted April 6 by local Spanish-language news provider Noticaribe, the story was picked up by local news outlets such as WGN9 in Chicago and WKRN in Nashville, among others, over the weekend. According to the reports, 14 people were killed over the course of 36 hours between the morning of April 4 and the evening of April 5, with nine people killed on April 4 alone. The crimes are thought to be the result of rising drug violence associated with the opioid epidemic in the United States, and are higher than the previous record this decade for most people killed in a single day in Cancun, which was five.
The latest reports come as questions regarding Mexico and travel safety are once again in the news, most recently with last week’s article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel accusing travel agents of failing to “share the risks” with clients booking travel to Mexico resorts. That report centered on agents “duty to warn” when it comes to destinations with potential safety issues.
“Tourism is an extremely important industry for us,” Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, the Consul General of Mexico in Austin, told WKRN. “It has increased at approximately 10 percent per year for the last four to five years and that means that for Mexico and the Mexican government it’s extremely important to exercise all cautionary measures.” Gutierrez noted that the government has increased boots on the ground to improve safety.
Despite the headlines, travel to Cancun has continued to increase, most recently with a major travel surge over the Easter holiday weekend. During the month of March, arrivals at Cancun International Airport were up 14.5 percent over the previous year, well over half of which were international visitors arriving for a vacation. Hotels in Cancun and the Riviera Maya averaged a 90 percent occupancy rate over the holiday weekend.
Quintana Roo, which includes Cancun as well as other tourist areas Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and the Riviera Maya, remains rated by the State Department as Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution, due to the risk of violent crime like homicide, kidnapping, carjacking and robbery. A Level 2 ranking means that travelers should be “aware of heightened risks to safety and security” within the destination. That puts it in the same overall ranking as other popular tourist destinations for travelers from the United States, including the United Kingdom, France and Italy.