Another spring, another spring break travel advisory about Mexico. It’s happened every year lately; the latest is via the Texas Department of Public Safety. The US State Department has reliably issued Mexico travel warning after Mexico travel warning each spring as well. The Texas Dept of Public Safety’s Director, Steven McCraw, said “Our safety message is simple: avoid traveling to Mexico during spring break and stay alive.” Well. That’s pretty grim. Sounds like the entire country is overrun with corrupt government officials and drug gangs.
Want to know how to get people to stop traveling? Scare them. That’s right — nothing keeps people in their homes and away from seeing the world better than good old fashioned fear. And you know what else? News organizations just looove to instill fear in their readers. Well, not all news organizations, perhaps, but with every publisher and broadcaster fighting for eyeballs and shortened attention spans of their readers and listeners, our emotions do get played with on a regular basis. And guess what — it works. If fear tactics didn’t work we wouldn’t see so many pre-commercial teasers that go something like this: “What item in your fridge could kill you right now? We’ll tell you…after this.” Sounds familiar, right? Of course it does.
Similarly, people who might consider taking a spring break vacation in Mexico, but are easily swayed by fear tactics, are more likely to stay home after reading one travel advisory after another warning them of the dangers of travel south of the border. What a lost opportunity to both enjoy and learn something about a different country.
Mexico is a large and diverse country. There are absolutely some parts of it — primarily the states that border the United Sates, like Tijuana and Nueva Laredo — that are overrun with drug crimes and corruption. There’s no reason to plan a vacation in those parts of Mexico, but the gorgeous resort destinations and charming smaller historic areas are safe. Tourism is an important legal part of Mexico’s economy: Giving Mexico tourism dollars helps the country. Mexico’s travel destinations and attractions need to stay in business. The alternative to a sustainable travel industry is ugly, and affects the United States as well as other neighboring countries.
The good news is, Cancun is the third most popular spring break travel destination in the world, right after London and Paris (STA Travel). Budget Travel reports that Funjet Vacations has seen a sizable 15% increase in Mexico travel plans for this year’s spring break (compared to last year). All those families and college students must know that the popular, touristy parts of Mexico make for great vacations. Puerto Vallarta, another popular coastal travel destination, is noted by the Mexico Tourism Board as being ‘among the safest, most welcoming and relaxing tourist destinations in the world.”
Look, on any vacation, crime can happen. Three of the most popular US travel destinations — Orlando, Las Vegas and Los Angeles — aren’t crime-free. That doesn’t stop the hordes from descending on each city during peak travel seasons, though. Mexico has safe, beautiful beaches, incredible history, and a vibrant culture. Experiencing one or more element of this varied country is more than just a valid way to spend spring break: It adds to our life’s memories and awareness of the larger world around us. So, this spring break, don’t let your travel plans be ruled by fear. There’s a difference between traveling smart, and not traveling at all.