Without rattling off a bunch of statistics, in a word, yes. I have been living in Cancun for eleven years and I finally feel the need to speak up.
I moved from Chicago to Cancun eleven years ago. Cancun was different then, smaller, less traffic, and not a pair of shoes in my size to be found, but was it any safer for tourists? I don’t think so. I think Cancun is just as safe now as it was then yet everyone is in an uproar about whether vacationing in Mexico is unsafe.
While browsing the travel boards recently, I noticed that the number one question asked in one form or another is “Is it safe to travel to Mexico? I keep hearing terrible things on the news.” Today I read this question (or one very similar to it) posted by someone in Detroit. I was mugged at gunpoint in Detroit 20 years ago. I would imagine the person who posted that question should feel pretty safe strolling down the white sand beaches of Cancun.
As I said, I used to live in Chicago, one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. If one walks down Michigan Avenue, only a few miles from the South Side of Chicago, which can be a very dangerous area, does one feel safe? Of course. If one walks down the sidewalk in the Hotel Zone of Cancun, only a few kilometers from the possibly dangerous areas of downtown, should they feel safe? Of course. Would a tourist wander through the South Side of Chicago? I would hope not. What about the possibly dangerous areas of downtown Cancun? I would hope not. By the way, I would encourage tourists to visit certain areas of downtown Cancun, even at night, but I wouldn’t encourage a tourist to visit most of the South Side of Chicago, even during the day. Let me just clarify here that I love Chicago, South Side and all!
On my last visit to the U.S., I traveled to Phoenix, Arizona to visit my mother. I saw unbelievably horrendous things on the news. Interestingly enough, they don’t include them on the news here in Cancun and officials don’t discourage Mexicans from visiting the United States. However, when something happens in Mexico it seems to go viral and travelers are warned, and in some cases just assume, that all travel to Mexico is dangerous. Would you avoid visiting Tampa, Florida because there is danger and violence in South Central Los Angeles?
“So, is Cancun safe for tourists? Yes. Crime happens here, sure, pick pockets, thefts from hotel rooms, etc., etc., but violent crime against tourists, no. The type of crime that happens here occurs in every city around the world, tourist attraction or not. Use your common sense and street smarts and you’ll be fine. I would venture to say that Cancun is safer than most big cities around the world. I don’t feel any different here than I did in Toronto or New York or Los Angeles. In fact, I probably feel safer. I am far from naive, I read the local and national Mexican papers daily so I know exactly what is going on, but it does not fill me with fear. I don’t associate with the bad guys, nor do I try to impede what they are doing, I don’t have any money nor do I involve myself with dangerous activities. I live my life the same way I did in Toronto, eyes open, head up and aware of my surroundings. If I felt that tourists were in any way in danger, I would shout it from the rooftops. I have no interest in lying about this, people’s safety is of far greater concern to me than the economy of the city of Cancun. If I felt that Cancun was THAT dangerous, I certainly wouldn’t continue to live here with my small child.”
We should all try to analyze what we read in the paper and see on the news, not just take it all in as absolute truth. Cancun, the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen and most of the other popular vacation destinations in Mexico are safe for tourists. You may even be safer here than you are in your hometown.
About the Author
Kristin Busse is currently a travel writer but has worked in many different industries. She lives in Cancun, Mexico and plans to use her diverse experiences to write about the Yucatan Peninsula from her unique perspective.