The Mexico Quandary: Safety or Savings?(Excerpt) Originally Published at The New York Times Travel Section
WHEN Alex Trettin and his wife, Jenn, suggested to family and friends that they take a group vacation to Mexico, the reaction was mixed. About half of the group of 29 immediately signed on for the November trip to the Riviera Maya, south of Cancún, where they would visit Maya ruins (Like Tulum), fish and lounge by the pool at an upscale resort for the bargain price of $150 a person a night. The other half hesitated, citing concern about Mexico’s continuing drug war.
“My aunt stated she hoped we didn’t have any issues with the drug cartels,” said Mr. Trettin, a Mexico-travel specialist in Tacoma, Wash., who assured everyone that the beach resort they were going to near Playa del Carmen (just a 30 minutes north of Tulum) was far from the violent clashes they had seen on television. Ultimately, they all went, but the concerns that some in the group expressed are indicative of the quandary many travelers face when they consider the safety risks versus the convenience and affordability of a vacation in Mexico.
While most of the drug-related violence has been in the northern border region of Mexico, far from the Maya temples of the Yucatán, the regional cuisine of Oaxaca or the beaches of Baja California Sur, violence has erupted in tourist destinations like Acapulco and the state of Michoacán, home to the famous monarch butterfly sanctuaries. Even Cancún’s safety was questioned earlier this year after eight employees of a strip club there were killed when a group of men threw Molotov cocktails into the building in an area not frequented by tourists.
To combat the perception that violence has been widespread, tourism officials in Mexico have invested $30 million in advertising and social media initiatives to spread the word that much of the country is safe for tourists. “Visitors have the right to be well informed,” said Alfonso Sumano, the regional director for the Mexico Tourism Board for the Americas. Many of the affected areas, he said, “are very far from the destinations tourists visit.”
The latest travel warning, issued by the State Department in September, urged American citizens to defer unnecessary travel specifically to Michoacán and areas along the northern border, including Tamaulipas, and parts of Chihuahua, Durango and Coahuila, where tourists generally don’t go. Yet, ever cautious, it stated, “violence has occurred throughout the country, including in areas frequented by American tourists.” Visitors were encouraged to stay on main roads in daylight hours and to remain in well-known tourist areas.
All of this has made travel to Mexico a hard sell lately, but travel agents say the negative publicity has also made Mexico among the best values out there as resorts lower rates or add free incentives to entice travelers. When asked where agents are recommending travelers go to get the most for their dollar this year, 70 percent said Mexico, according to Travel Leaders, a major network of agents.
“A lot of clients will come here and say, ‘I’ll go anywhere except Mexico,’ ” said Kate Rosevear, owner of a Travel Leaders agency in Plymouth, Mich. “Quite often we’ll be able to talk them back around to it based on the value.”
The same is tru for Real Estate Operations in Tulum and The Riviera Maya Throught. Although the price of Tulum Real Estate has not crashed, sales have slowed down enough for opportunities of Real Estate Purchases in Tulum Pueblo and Tulum Beach Real Estate. (Blog Editor’s note).