Canadians still travelling to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, despite warnings
Published Monday, March 12, 2018 10:55AM EDT
Both Canada and the U.S. are warning tourists to exercise “a high degree of caution” when visiting the resort city of Playa del Carmen amid security threat concerns. But many Canadians with spring break trips already planned say they aren’t cancelling their flights.
Last Wednesday, Canada updated its travel advisory for Mexico to note that the U.S. Embassy in the country had issued a travel alert for Playa del Carmen and closed its consulate over security concerns.
That came just two weeks after 26 people were injured in an explosion that ripped through a ferry as it unloaded passengers in the city. Several days later, undetonated explosives were found on a second ferry on the same route between Playa del Carmen and the island of Cozumel.
On Friday, the U.S. Embassy narrowed its warning, saying it would be reopening its consulate on Monday and resuming normal operations. It also said U.S. government employees would be allowed to travel to resort areas near Playa del Carmen but must avoid five neighbourhoods in and around a downtown tourist zone.
Mexican officials were quick to defend public safety in Playa del Carmen, noting that tourist activity was normal in the city with hotel occupancy at 80 per cent.
Several travellers at Calgary’s airport heading to Mexico on Sunday said they planned to stay safe by staying on their resort property, and by avoiding travelling anywhere by ferry.
But retired U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agent Mike Vigil says that may not be enough.
Vigil, who spent 13 years in the country as an investigator, says the violence in Mexico's Caribbean coast is the a result of warring factions within competing drug cartels, and he doesn’t believe that any part of that region is safe.
“It’s a very poor decision to say, ‘As long as I stay in tourist places, I’m going to be safe.’ There are no safe places. There are no safe places,” Vigil told CTV News.
Mexico's attorney general's office insisted Sunday that the Feb. 21 ferry blast in Playa Del Carmen, was not an act of terrorism or organized crime.
Deputy Attorney General Arturo Elias Beltran told reporters that the bomb "had a very limited capacity" and "was not intended to do major damage." He added that 60 police officers and sniffer dogs have been deployed to guard the docks and ferries between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel.
The Canadian government says that while crime rates in Mexico are high, the level of crime in major tourist cities and destinations is relatively low compared to the national average. It says more than 2.1 million Canadians travel to Mexico each year, “the vast majority without incident."
With a report from CTV Calgary’s Stephanie Wiebe