By Tom Brussow, President-Sunsational Beach Vacations
May 14, 2018
As I’m sure the average consumer has now repeatedly seen, there have been any number of credible (and not so credible) news reports related to the safety of travel to the very popular vacation destination of Mexico. As the owner of a Milwaukee area travel agency, I have been following this with great concern. As a Mexico specialist and a frequent visitor to Mexico with over 50 trips and counting, our clients rely on us for up-to-date insights, advice and counsel as they consider their vacation plans.
From my perspective, more often than not, these reports tend to be sensationalized and often lack a proven or consistent pattern of facts that would elevate their credibility. In the bigger picture, they appear more aimed at casting blame, creating fear, and fostering the misconception that Mexico is an unsafe place for U.S travelers to vacation. But is it really?
Do bad things happen to travelers while they’re in Mexico? Yes, unfortunately they do. There are legitimate reports of crime and violence that have taken place and I’m not disputing that. At the same time, on any given weekend, in Milwaukee, Chicago, Las Vegas, Orlando, New York and pretty much every city, everywhere, bad things happen. That is just a fact. Let's be real, some could rightfully argue that in a relative comparison, it makes more sense that the Mexican media and authorities should be warning their citizens about coming here to the U.S to vacation, not vice versa!
The key question is: Can you, your family, and friends select a Mexico resort for your next vacation with a high degree of certainty that you will be safe? I say the answer is a resounding yes given the relative comparisons to other destinations, the first-hand reports that continue coming in from recent Mexico travelers, and the actions being taken in Mexico to address traveler concerns.
Consider that the number of reported incidents impacting tourists are extremely small in comparison to the total number of U.S. visitors to Mexico. Last year alone, close to 26 million U.S. travelers visited Mexico (about 7 Million to the Cancun/Riviera Maya resorts) which was the most ever and a 24% increase over 2016. Also, data comparing the safety of Cancun, Riviera Maya, Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta, and Los Cabos show that these popular destinations rank higher on the safety rating index than many major U.S. cities.
Another source of concern has been the U.S State Department travel warnings that get updated periodically and always seems to end up making front page news. Did you know that Mexico shares the exact same travel advisory level as countries such as France, Germany, Italy, and the entire U.K.? It seems to me that there is a bit of a double standard when comes to the media’s coverage of Mexico when all of this is put in context. Why should Mexico be held to a different or higher presumed traveler safety standard vs. any other country?
And, many of the media reports just don’t pass the common sense or mathematical sniff test. If there was indeed a widespread problem related to alcohol blackouts, staff conduct or other safety related issues, the number of reported cases would have to be exponentially higher. There would surely be extensive supporting cell phone video evidence of wrongdoing, arrests, criminal convictions, civil lawsuits, significant social media backlash, etc. To the contrary, outside of a report or two of the Mexican government cracking down on some bootleg tequila operations and the seizure of some unlicensed alcohol, the primary tourist areas and U.S. visitors to the resorts have not been targeted and are very rarely impacted.
In the lead up to this year’s busy spring break travel season, the various reports definitely had a negative effect as, out of fear and misconception, many travelers chose an alternative destination. However, many others, citing their own personal experiences on past Mexico trips, opted to return to Cancun, Riviera Maya, and Puerto Vallarta in large numbers. I am pleased to report that as our clients returned home from their trips, there have been no reported issues regarding safety, alcohol quality, or any of the other related concerns that have been raised.
To the contrary, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. For example, Olivia P., a client from Brookfield, WI who stayed at the El Dorado Royale Resort in Riviera Maya said; “Thanks for checking in! Everything was amazing. Literally 5/5 on everything. The food was fantastic, the customer service was amazing, and we fell in love with the resort and the staff. I honestly have no complaints as everything was beyond incredible”.
I fully expect that as additional trip feedback continues to come in, we’ll hear many more reports similar to those we received from Olivia. So, why am I so confident?
It is my firm belief (supported by extensive first-hand personal experience) that the people of Mexico are without a doubt among the friendliest, most gracious, hard-working, honest, and amazing people I have had the pleasure to meet. I am also confident that there are thousands of my travel industry colleagues who work on the front lines caring for travelers who would whole heartedly agree.
Above all, when you travel to Mexico, the resort and the staff are focused on providing the best possible service and experience for their guests fully realizing that tourism is the lifeblood of their economy. They frequently and quite sincerely express their gratitude for American tourists who they feel are directly responsible for the highly valued job that allows them to provide for their kids and helps to ensure their families can enjoy a much better life than generations of Mexican people before them.
So what then should you do with all of this information?
First and foremost, separate fact from fiction and find an experienced travel agent that you trust.
As professional travel agents, we draw upon our training, experience and industry resources to field a variety of questions and assist consumers in planning and purchasing a safe and memorable vacation. We utilize our close contacts on the ground in Mexico, personal visits, constant traveler feedback, and many online agent forums where up-to-date information is shared on a daily basis. As a result, we indeed play an important role in informing the public. It is part of our job and one of the key reasons why our clients trust and depend on us to help them to select the location that is the best fit for them.
Then, when travelling to Mexico, you should take the normal precautions as you would travelling anywhere else in the world. Follow your instincts and be diligent when it comes to “situational awareness” of the people and conditions around you. Travel together with others especially late at night or in unpopulated areas.
A vital part of staying safe is keeping your wits about you, so be cautious about overindulging in alcohol, and avoid recreational drugs, which despite what you may have heard, are illegal in Mexico. Take into account the intensity of the sun, the heat, and your physical needs for the proper hydration, sleep and nutrition.
In addition, we always recommend the purchase of trip insurance.
So if a quick getaway, family vacation, honeymoon, or even a destination wedding is in your future, one of the amazing beach destinations in Mexico could very well be the perfect spot. Be sure to take advantage of the expertise of your local travel agent to discuss your plans and expectations for your trip.
With this and the safety measures being taken by the local community, the resorts and the great people of Mexico, you can book with confidence and should have a wonderful vacation as planned!
If You Have Questions About The Information in This Article, Travel to Mexico or Are Ready to Book Your Next Vacation to a Beautiful Mexico Beach Contact:
Tom Brussow at 262-465-4600 or tom@SunsationalBeachVacations.com