Tourists still visiting Mexico despite drug war
Mexican president Felipe Calderon has more to celebrate this week than the 200th anniversary of the country’s independence from Spain: Despite recent headline-inducing drug crime and threats to its vital tourist industry due to the global economic downturn, American visitors continue to head south of the border.
“It’s no secret there has been the perception of security issues,” said Chris Calabrese, vice president and managing director of the J.W. Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa and CasaMagna Cancun Marriott Resort. “But crime is mostly a border issue. Cancun is 1,100 miles from Juarez, where most of the incidents have taken place. There’s some confusion about the geography of the country. But I’m here with my family. If I thought they might not be safe, I would pack my bags and leave.”
Much of the crime in Mexico is related to drug-trafficking, the majority committed in areas that are not traditional tourist destinations, said Hugo Rodriguez, the Western Hemisphere Affairs division chief in the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.
On Aug. 31, an attack on a bar frequented by locals in Cancun outside the main tourist area left eight dead . Authorities suspect the violence is linked to an extortion attempt by a local drug cartel known to operate in the area, although the resort town has largely avoided the nation’s drug violence.