Amidst the insecurity crisis, is it safe to travel to Mexico?

After years of hunkering down because of COVID-19, U.S. travelers are heading out, and Mexico is again one of their favorite destinations.

More than 21 million international tourists traveled to Mexico between January and July this year. Of those, nearly 8 million were from the U.S., government data shows.

That’s a 41% increase in the number of U.S. visitors, when compared to the same time period in 2021.

Mexico’s rich culture, beaches, resorts, Mayan and Aztec ruins and distinctive cuisine combine to make it one of the top 10 most visited countries in the world.

But there’s also a darker side to that allure.

Mexico is constantly making headlines about security, as drug cartel-fueled violence spreads from the white sands of Tulum to the Pacific coast.

“My friends used to call me and ask, ‘I want to send my daughter down to Cancun for spring break.’ I’d show them the phone with all the violence down there and say, ‘I wouldn’t be sending my daughter there because that’s too risky,'” former U.S. DEA Special Agent Derek Maltz said.

Knowing the level of that risk in advance is crucial, experts say.

Like in any country, there are some dangerous places and others that can be visited without trouble. Common sense is the key when traveling to potentially hostile areas, experts say.

Everard Meade, director of Proceso Pacifico, a peace-building organization based in Mexico, said “foreign tourists are really safe.”

“I mean, there’s just so few incidents where foreign tourists are victims of violence and particularly homicide. Organized crime groups know that it’s not productive to target them. They know that if they did that, the result would be the National Guard running all over the city. And they just don’t want that.”

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