It is Mexico's third largest money maker, tourism, and it has been hit by the perfect storm. Swine flu, the global recession, the oil spill and now an increase in drug-related violence; all are hot topics and all are preventing the normal flow of travel to Mexico. Brewing for years, the post-storm damage is a threat to Mexico's livelihood. Clouded by misconceptions and rumination of exaggerated information, it does not have to be this way. There is no reason for tourists to not return to their favorite vacation hot spots.
Swine flu was a reason for concern but no longer is. This epidemic did not turn out as disastrous as many predicted and has been in drastic decline since September 2009. Yet, some are still convinced this is a reason to not travel to Mexico when, statistically speaking, there should be no hesitation. The reality is that swine flu made its way through Mexico before it traveled north toward the United States. Swine flu is no longer an issue in the states so there is no reason to think it is still a problem in south of the border.
"When America sneezes, the world gets cold," said a taxi driver in Shannon Ireland. This driver probably never thought these words would appear so substantial to his passenger, nonetheless they've ended up written and forever posted to the web. Regardless, he was right. The United States did sneeze; it was an economic ¨gesundheit¨ felt around the globe. Mexico's travel industry took a hit and tourists were not willing to spend the money to embark on a Caribbean dream vacation or go anywhere else for that matter. But, now, the United States has found some Kleenexes and the economic immune system appears to recovering. Let's hope the trend continues in a positive direction.
The tragedy of the BP oil spill is a tragedy indeed. Heartbreaking actually, but it does not have to be for Mexico's popular vacation destinations like Cancun, Riveria Maya or Cozumel. Just due to the fact that the Gulf of Mexico is so close to the Yucatan Peninsula where all of the popular vacation hot spots are, many people think the oil spill is affecting the region. To the contrary, it is not. In fact, due to natural current patterns, it is predicted that the oil slick will be transported up the eastern-sea board of the Unites States later to be swept towards Europe.
Drug related violence, the last but certainly not the least and probably the most important topic of all affecting Mexico's tourist industry. It is weighing on everyone's mind and rightfully so. Despite the fact that, yes, there has been an increase in violence, the American major media conglomerates like to engage in constant chit chat, chatter, debit or whatever you want to call it and repeated it over and over again like a broken record. Naturally, this will cause anyone to hit the panic button without really considering hard facts. But, it is important to do just that, consider the facts. The Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at the Univeristy of San Diego participated in a study of the drug violence taking place in Mexico from the years 2006 to 2009 and came to some interesting concluding:
1. The most drug-related violence takes place in the states Chihuahua, Baja California North, Sonora, Coahuila, Michoacán.
2. The least violence takes place in the states Campeche, Quintana Roo and Yucatan, all the states that make up the Yucatan Peninsula and where thousands of tourists gather every year to vacation.
3. The spike in violence has been due to governmental crack down. Once Mexican president, Felipe Calderon, took office in 2006, he vowed to fight against the illegal drug trafficking between the United States and Mexico.The president did just that. By deploying thousands of federal police and soldiers to fight the cartels, violence increased. Therefore, violence is only between competitiveness cartels, military, government officials or anyone linked to the government.
4. In 2009, just last year, the odds of being a victim of a drug-related victim were 1 in 16,300.
Granted there has been another spike in drug-related violence in Mexico, it is important to remember to ask the questions: Why the spike in violence? Did the victim have governmental ties? Was the victim somehow involved in taking drugs or involved in the drug trade? To this day it appears that no tourist has been specifically targeted. The changes of being harmed, as a tourist, are no higher than being harmed in any major American city. There is no condemning the recent discovery of victims in the Yucatan Peninsula, a place rarely touched by such crime but toxicology reports confirmed that all six victims found drugs in their systems. Case in point, it was a tie to the drug industry.
Swine flu, the global economic crisis, the BP oil spill, and an increase in drug-related violence are taking a toll on Mexico's travel industry. If we all don't sober up and pay attention to reputable facts and figures, it is only going to get worse and we'll lose our favorite spots on the warm white sand beaches adjacent to the Caribbean Sea. So, here are some reputable organizations to follow: The Centers for Disease Control, for information regarding swine flu, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for information regarding the BP oil spill and the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego, concerning Mexico's drug wars.