Over the past year I have helped prospective travelers by posting on a variety of travel blogs. Some of the most common and often asked questions are “Are there drug wars in Cancun?” or “Is Cancun Safe?” There were 23,000 violent deaths in Mexico during 2010 that were related to drug violence. Fortunately only three of those drug related deaths occurred in the Cancun/Yucatan area.
There is a growing misconception that if you travel to Mexico, you are taking a tremendous risk of being assaulted, robbed, hijacked or shot and nothing could be further from the truth. The US news media is mostly to blame as they sensationalize the smallest mishap in search of boosting their ratings at the expense of anyone and everyone. Add to this our own State department issuing warnings that make it sound like the life expectancy of a tourist in Cancun is about the same as the point man on patrol in Vietnam in 1968 while France and the UK issue mild, common sense advisories.
Cancun, Mexico sees almost 5 million tourists a year pass through their tiny little town. The economy here revolves around the area commonly known as the Hotel Zone, further south the Maya Riviera and of course Playa del Carmel with the island of Cozumel as the Yucatan’s chief cruise ship port. The nightlife consists of numerous bars and a rising number of casinos in Cancun for added entertainment. Vacationers from the Hotel Zone venturing out can feel confident that their safety is of great concern to the local and Federal Police who regularly patrol the area.
Of course everyone should use common sense when in a foreign and unfamiliar town. Use the same wherewithal you would use in any new or foreign town. At night it is advisable to travel in groups and take a taxi if your location takes you outside of the normal tourist areas. If you are going to a local attraction in town after dark, ask your hotel concierge if the area is safe. Most area bars and casinos have 24 hour outside security for both your and their protection. I’m not saying that Cancun is without crime but compared to downtown Detroit, Chicago, LA or Atlanta you’re safer here and less likely to become a crime victim.
After living in town for seven months I have become accustomed to walking out late at night in my neighborhood (La Luna & Nichupte) without worry. Many of the local neighborhoods, in town, post volunteer night watchmen at the corner of their streets. These rotating shifts of volunteers sit up all night and watch for unfamiliar faces and also make sure area residents make it to their doors safely. Perhaps the US should take a few lessons from our south of the border friends.
So in answer to your gripping question; No Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas anymore but come on down to Cancun anyway and the Mexican Munchkins will make your trip worth every peso… and bring your funny little dog with you. We’ll keep a light on for ya.