Friday, December 8, 2023

The State Department Has a Major Travel Warning for Spring Break

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Read this before you travel for spring break.

Travelers are paying more than last year for spring break travels. According to the travel app Hopper, domestic flights are up 20% compared to 2022, while flyers are shelling out 60% more to land in Mexico and Central America. There is surging demand this year and travel is rebounding despite the fact that prices are higher than in pre-pandemic years.

Mexico is expected to be a favorite for Americans. Insurance company Allianz Partners’ review of 2.6 million flight itineraries revealed that Cancun, San Jose del Cabo, Puerto Vallarta, and Mexico City are among the top 10 international destinations for spring break holidayers.

However, there are rising concerns about crimes and kidnappings in Mexico. The U.S. Department of State has updated its travel advisory after the killing of two Americans in the city of Matamoros in the state of Tamaulipas. 

The U.S. State Department has broken down its Mexico travel warnings by states. Out of 32 states, there is a Level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisory for six: Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, and Zacatecas due to crime. Seven states have a Level 3 “Reconsider Travel” warning: Baja California, Chihuahua, Durango, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Morelos, and Sonora. 

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Matamoros is on the Texas-Mexico border, and travelers from the U.S. often make the drive across for medical tourism. Tamaulipas is notorious for gang violence and shootings. The State Department warns, “Criminal groups target public and private passenger buses, as well as private automobiles traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers and demanding ransom payments.”

Related: The Most Delicious Mexican Cookbooks to Celebrate This Rich and Varied Cuisine

Rising Crimes in Mexico

Earlier this year, drug cartel leader Ovidio Guzman (the son of incarcerated drug lord El Chapo) was arrested. The cartel retaliated by setting vehicles on fire and attacking planes. Tourists were warned to stay away from Sinaloa state. There have also been reports of clashes between taxi unions and Uber drivers in Cancun this year. In January, drivers blocked off a road between the airport and the hotel district, forcing travelers to hitch a ride with the police or walk for miles.

The murder of American citizens in Mexico this month has made international news. Four U.S. citizens were shot at and kidnapped at gunpoint in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, which is located across the border from Brownsville, Texas. They were driving in a minivan when gunmen opened fire and abducted them. Two Americans were killed, but two survived and are now back in the United States. The victims were in Matamoros for a cosmetic surgery procedure.

This has brought renewed attention to the medical tourism industry in the neighboring country. More than a million Americans travel to Mexico for medical treatments, cosmetic surgeries, and dental procedures that are too expensive in the U.S. Many also drive to Mexico for prescription medications. Although the CDC warns that medical tourism can be risky due to complications and quality of care, Americans still cross the border for services that may cost a fraction of what they do at home.

Around 20.6 million tourists arrived in Mexico by air in 2022 and 13 million came from the U.S. Tourists aren’t intentionally targeted, but they have been caught in cross-fires between gangs. It’s important to keep yourself updated on travel advisories and recent news if you’re traveling to Mexico.

Related: The 10 Coolest Mexican Towns That You Probably Haven’t Visited

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