Five states in Mexico now have the highest “Level 4: Do not travel” advisories under a new regime unveiled Wednesday. This puts them at the sternest advisory level, alongside war-torn destinations like Syria, Yemen, and Somalia.
According to the U.S. State Department announcement, the five states are Tamaulipas on the U.S. border and Sinaloa, Colima, Michoacan, and Guerrero on the Pacific coast.
“Due to crime” is the reason given for placing the states at the highest level of potential danger.
All are known hotspots of drug cartel activity, either hosting trafficking routes or extensive drug-crop cultivation.
Mexico as a whole is at an advisory “Level 2: Exercise increased caution.”
“Violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread,” states the U.S. State Department, and urges travellers to “exercise increased caution in Mexico due to crime,” which occurs at a “high rate and can be violent.”
Resort areas and tourist destinations are said to be generally safer, though the State Department notes that there are exceptions.
At least two Mexican resorts—Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo and Acapulco—are in a do-not-travel state, Guerrero.
According to the New York Times, the Mexican government’s Mexico Tourism Board said in a statement that “Mexico’s major international tourism destinations have been explicitly listed as having no travel restrictions.”
The newly indicated no-travel states have for some time seen foreign tourist outflow. Extensive drug cartel activity and the violence it brings have been major contributors to the spike in homicides and other violent crimes.
Mexican Secretary of Tourism Enrique de la Madrid Cordero told Newsweek that U.S. tourists feel safe in Mexico, despite State Department report findings that 264 Americans died there in 2016, of which 75 were related to homicide.
This is more than any other country in the world.
“In Mexico’s main tourist areas for foreigners—Cancun-Riviera Maya and Los Cabos—we haven’t heard of foreign tourists’ casualties that stemmed from insecurity in the last two years, so I would like to see those [death] cases and provide an answer based on that,” de la Madrid Cordero told Newsweek. “…It may be anecdotic cases where one tourist kills his or her significant other or vice versa. These are not acts related to violence.”
In Wednesday’s revamp, an additional 11 Mexican states got a level 3 warning, which urges people to “reconsider travel” there.
Half of Mexico’s 31 states are now under level 3 or 4 warnings.