Dangers, concerns for popular spring break destination spot

Many U.S. college students go to Mexico for Spring Break every year. However, due to the drug violence and swine flu pandemic in recent years, travel officials are warning students to take extra precaution when travelling to Mexico on vacation.

The State Department has estimated that more than 100,000 students will travel to Mexico for spring break this year.

The majority of drug cartel-related violence is seen within the border towns such as El Paso, Laredo and Tijuana, and not the coastal cities popular for vacation spots. Places like Cozumel, Riviera Maya, Cabos San Lucas, and Mazatlan are all safe, popular tourist spots.

While the media surrounding the violence has caused concern among many travelers, it is important to understand the distance between the two areas.

“Saying that you would not go to Nebraska because of crime in Chicago would be similar to saying you wouldn’t go to Cozumel because of crime along the border,” said Tracey Smith of Travel Unlimited in Florence.

While some crime is to be expected in large cities, Smith said that the resort areas do not see the level of crime reported in the border towns.

She also said that the last travel advisory from the Bureau of Consular Affairs regarding Mexico received by Travel Unlimited was Sept. 10 of last year. The advisory stated that millions of Americans have travelled safely to the coastal areas of Mexico and should continue to avoid border crossings. It also encouraged travelers to stay in tourist-friendly areas and not venture off the main road.

Coastal cities are usually safer for tourists because there is a higher police presence. These cities are prepared for tourists and have many ways to keep them safe. However, it is important to be cautious and not do anything reckless in these cities.

“We have to use common sense around here, and it is no different when travelling,” said Smith.

Students vacationing in Mexico should be aware of their surroundings and stay with their companions to avoid being robbed.

“If a student travels to Mexico they need to stay in the areas for tourists and not travel outside of those areas because they are targets mainly for the reason they have money with them,” said UNA student Carina Rios. “A lot of tourists have been experiencing one problem where they are kidnapped and taken to the ATM and forced to retrieve the amount that is allowed for the day.”

As with any international travel, students who vacation in Mexico on Spring Break should have digital copies of their identification, knowledge of the closest U.S. embassy and leave a copy of their itinerary with a parent or close friend at home. By following these steps, students can have a fun and safe spring break when vacationing in Mexico. For further information, look to travel.state.gov.