Drug violence chills Cancun as 'fun, sun' hot spot
Long thought to be isolated from the gruesome killings that plague Mexico, even this resort city is now feeling threatened.
It seems things couldn't be better for Mexican tourism. Cancun's Convention & Visitors Bureau says the recently concluded Easter Week was one of its most successful spring weeks ever. Hotel occupancy rates in the resort area ran at 90% or better, and Cancun International Airport handled more than 500 flights daily.
"Cancun remains the top international destination for North American tourists," said Cancun CVB CEO Jesus Almaguer in a recent press release, "and continues to meet and exceed expectations in terms of service and the general appeal of this full-fledged destination."
But for the second time in two months, Cancun -- which generates over one-third of Mexico's overall tourism revenue -- has been the site of a mass killing. The bodies of seven people were discovered on Sunday in a shack on Cancun's outskirts. And just last month, seven people were killed and four others wounded in a shooting at a bar frequented by taxi drivers.
Located on the Yucatán peninsula in southern Mexico, Cancun had seemed removed from the drug cartel violence that has plagued Mexico in recent years -- and has frightened tourists away from other ocean resorts like Acapulco.
But the brutal and seemingly random violence has gotten to the point where global intelligence company Stratfor recently issued a list of security risks and travel tips for spring break vacationers in Mexico. According to Stratfor, there's an ongoing misconception by U.S. tourists that the Mexican drug cartels avoid interfering with their country's profitable tourism industry and target only Mexican citizens.
"Nothing in the behavior of Mexican cartels indicates that they would consciously keep tourists out of the line of fire or away from the gruesome displays of their murder victims," the company notes. "Violence related to the cartels is spreading, and while tourists may not be directly targeted, they can be caught in the crossfire or otherwise find themselves in situations where their security is compromised."
And according to Stratfor, Cancun's port is an important transit point for South American drugs entering Mexico on their way to the U.S.
Industry analysts say once tourists stop feeling safe in a resort and start staying away, it can take years for the local economy to recover from the decline in hotel occupancy rates.
"What we've found even in just recession periods, when properties and even more so markets have major rate drops that are widespread, it takes five, sometimes longer years to recover from that and get back to where you were before the big rate drop," said David Corsun, director of the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management at the University of Denver.
Corsun added that a "fun and sun" destination like Cancun, where the main attractions are the beach, the local hotels and the resorts, is competing against similar destinations for tourist dollars -- both in Mexico and elsewhere.
"And when people have to make a choice, almost regardless of price, of being somewhere where they feel safe and being somewhere where they don't," he noted, "they're going to choose safe."
I've been to Cancun twice but that was years ago. I chose it (Club Med) because it was a nice resort and the closest to me (Florida) and among the least expensive due to the short travel and availability and price of flights. But I can't see a reason to go back with the way things are now. Too dangerous.
this is one of those situations where the Mexican government needs to step in with the military and eradicate the cartel scum. not try to arrest them. just wipe them out. make is so bad to be a drug dealer that whomever manages to escape just quits being a scumbag. And tell them as much. Stop being a scumbag and killing people or we will wipe you out.
Who the hell wants to go to a country where the police force shakes you down on the highways leading to the airport??????
Not even the C.I.A. is safe in Mexico!!!!
Their unwillingness to crack down on cartel violence, securing both their people & boarders, has forced a ban on all travel to this corrupt country. Eastern Caribbean islands are more scenic anyway. (IMO)
Is a US invasion our only viable solution?
Another self serving advertisement that Mex is unsafe so they can sell you something.
Go to their (stratfor) and see where they offer a service as long as they and our BS (USA) govt say Mex is unsafe. Even going so far as to use 2006 stats.
Truth: more people are killed in Detroit per 100,000 than Mex.
Is there a State Dept warning for Detroit?
We love Cabo and the Mexican people.
This is just bad guys killing bad guys an hour away from the Hotel Zone, far far away from anywhere Cancun tourists or respectable locals might go. I've been living here 8 years and still feel safe in Cancun.
Ridiculous fear-mongering from the American media, as usual.
Mexico has some of the toughest gun laws in the world, and look what's happening to them. It hasn't stopped the criminals from getting all the firepower they want.
Rocky Point is also suffering, not from violence directly, but from a lack of visitors.
Hotels are laying off service personnel and restaurants are downgrading both food quality and service in hopes of weathering the storm. It will be several years before we will be willing to return after this winter's trip.
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