World

Mexico travel advisory urges U.S. citizens to avoid Mexican states

Mexico travel advisory urges U.S. citizens to avoid Mexican states

The U.S. State Department is warning Americans about traveling to five Mexican states.

The advisory, issued Thursday, puts the states of Tamaulipas on the USA border and Sinaloa, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero on the Pacific coast on the same level as war-torn countries like Syria, Yemen and Somalia.

The State Department said the areas are hotbeds of drug cartel activity, including drug trafficking routes, and extensive drug-crop cultivation.

USA government employees face travel bans in some areas of Mexico, however there are no government restrictions in the tourist areas of Ensenada, Rosarito, and Tijuana, according to the State Department. But an additional 11 Mexican states got a level 3 warning Wednesday, which urges people to "reconsider travel" there. But the travel advisory said there are "no restrictions on USA government employees for stays in".

However, the State Department offers no warnings for popular tourist hotspots such as "Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Chapala, and Ajijic".

Mexico's federal tourism department was not immediately available to comment on the new warnings.

The government's Mexico Tourism Board said in a statement reported by Fox News, "Mexico's major global tourism destinations have been explicitly listed as having no travel restrictions".

"Do not travel due to crime", it states.

USA personnel had previously been allowed to fly to Ixtapa, the last place in Guerrero where they had been allowed to go.

The advisory delivered a stark reminder of the formerly ritzy seaside resort city Acapulco fall from grace.

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The no-travel states had mostly already lost much foreign tourism.

The advisories cite drug cartel activity and violent crime, and the Tamaulipas warning was very blunt. Michoacan was so dominated by a drug cartel that vigilantes took up arms in 2013 to drive them out.

The country witnessed its deadliest year in 2017, registering a record number of murders in its modern history.

The U.S. government did note its employees are allowed to go to the seaside city of Manzanillo, Colima.

While high-profile killings in certain hot spots have gotten media attention, Mexico's homicide rate is actually closer to the middle of the pack than the top, compared to other nations in the hemisphere.

The State Department already recommends that travelers use "increased caution" when in Mexico because of widespread crime, such as kidnapping, homicide, carjacking and robbery, USA Today reported.

The violence has even encroached on the long-safe tourist havens of Cancun and Los Cabos, where in December the bodies of four men were found hanging from a highway overpass.

The MTB said the new system is an improvement based on its organization and simplicity, and noted that the State Department "confirmed that major worldwide tourist destinations in Mexico are safe" and have no travel restrictions.

"I'm guessing they are breathing a sigh of relief", he said.