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Mexico too violent to visit? Tourism chief says no

  • Story Highlights
  • United States, Canada, France, others have issued alerts about travel to Mexico
  • Mexican tourism director says visitors shouldn't worry, just stay alert
  • Official: "There are very safe zones and there are zones that are not safe"
  • Travel company says economy, not perceptions of violence, is hurting most
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From Rey Rodriguez
CNN
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MEXICO CITY, Mexico (CNN) -- Mexico's tourism director on Wednesday downplayed the risk of violence facing tourists, despite warnings for travelers to think twice about visiting the country.

A cliff diver jumps from "La Quebrada" cliff in Acapulco, Mexico. The diving is a popular tourist attraction.

A cliff diver jumps from "La Quebrada" cliff in Acapulco, Mexico. The diving is a popular tourist attraction.

"In all parts of the world, you have to be careful with what you do," Oscar Fitch told CNN en Espanol. "What I am saying is there are very safe zones and there are zones that are not safe."

In recent days, the United States, Canada, France, Italy and Germany have issued alerts about travel to Mexico, where drug violence was blamed for more than 5,400 killings last year.

The warnings appear to have had little effect, according to Mauricio Baranda, Mexico country manager at Carlson Wagonlit Travel.

"For our part, we have detected no significant drop because of that type of situation," he said. "Much more significant is the reduction [in travel to Mexico] because of the financial crisis."

In an unusual move, the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert last month targeting spring break travelers, for whom Mexico is a popular destination.

"The situation in Ciudad Juarez is of special concern," the alert said. "Mexican authorities report that more than 1,800 people have been killed in the city since January 2008. Additionally, this city of 1.6 million people experienced more than 17,000 car thefts and 1,650 carjackings in 2008."Video Watch as troops roll into Juarez and officials say it's working »

Some students appeared to be paying attention.

"I think that, if there is a big problem in Mexico, they [students] should go somewhere else, because you never know what is going to happen," said Nereida Solis, a student.

"I think it would be a good idea to consider security things," added Karen Velasquez, another student.

But student Aaron Cutler was more fatalistic.

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"That's life," he said. "There is violence in Israel, there is violence in India. I don't know much about the situation and how it has turned out. I can't comment much, but if people want to go, people are going to go."

Mexican authorities said the country remains a preferred destination for U.S. vacationers, but acknowledged that the warnings may lead some of the 18 million who typically visit their neighbor south of the border to find another place to go this year.

All About MexicoCiudad Juarez

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