Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Recent Survey Results Support that Mexico is a Safe Tourist Destination

Recent Survey Results Support that Mexico is a Safe Tourist Destination
Results are contrary to media and consumers' misconceptions

MILWAUKEE, March 18, 2009 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The recently updated Mexico Travel Alert has been broadly misinterpreted by media and consumers. The alert does not discourage U.S. citizens from traveling to Mexico, but instead encourages travelers to take common sense precautions to ensure that travel to Mexico is safe and enjoyable. To get a pulse on how vacationers who recently returned from Mexico felt about their safety and experience, The Mark Travel Corporation (parent company to Funjet Vacations) initiated and aggregated a consumer survey.

From March 6 - 15, 2009, more than 900 responses were received from travelers who took a vacation to Mexico between October 2008 and March 2009. The results were overwhelmingly positive with 97% of those surveyed indicating they would return to Mexico for another vacation and 90% of all respondents agreeing to the statement "I felt safe and secure." Of the respondents who agreed to feeling safe and secure, 92% traveled in 2009 and 88% traveled in 2008, indicating that a growing number of travelers felt safe and secure in Mexico in 2009.
There were some travelers, only 9%, who indicated they felt unsafe at some time during their vacation in Mexico and less than 1% of respondents felt unsafe while on the resort property. The vast majority of reasons for feeling unsafe reflected isolated concerns that were not related to personal or physical safety.
The majority of respondents vacationed in Cancun/Riviera Maya, the most popular leisure destination in Mexico, which is more than 1,300 miles from the nearest U.S./Mexico border town referred to in the updated Mexico Travel Alert. Other respondents also vacationed in major tourist destinations including Puerto Vallarta, Cozumel, Los Cabos, Ixtapa, Acapulco and Mazatlan. These destinations are a minimum of 375 miles (the distance from Mazatlan to Chihuahua) from any U.S./Mexico border town. To view a map of Mexico that includes tourist destinations, border towns and mileage, visit, a Web site recently launched by the Mexico Tourism Board to address travelers' questions about travel and safety in Mexico.

"The survey respondents confirmed Funjet's position that Mexico continues to be an amazing, safe and fun vacation destination. The results should give other travelers confidence to plan a Mexico vacation," stated Mike Going, President of Funjet Vacations. "We encourage consumers to get the facts about the Mexico Travel Alert from their travel agent or The concentration of drug cartel violence that caused the U.S. Department of State to update the alert is hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of miles away from Cancun, Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta and other main tourist areas."

There was no incentive or giveaway associated with the survey and travel agents were encouraged to send it to any of their clients who recently returned from Mexico and traveled with Funjet Vacations or another tour operator.

For more information on the Mexico Travel Alert consumers should contact a local travel agent, visit or call 1-888-558-6654. To book a Funjet vacation to Mexico, travelers should contact their local travel agent or

Posted: Friday, March 20, 2009 3:03 PM by Kanoa Biondolillo

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Readers weigh in on Mexico

By Catharine Hamm
March 22, 2009 - Las Angeles Times

Question: Should student Sarah Tjoa go to Cancún, Mexico, for spring break? She posed that question in a letter to the Travel section, and in the March 15 "On the Spot," we asked readers to weigh in. Here is some of what they had to say.

We just returned from a wonderful vacation on the Riviera Nayarit, one of many trips we've taken to Mexico in the last 30-plus years. We felt very safe everywhere we went. You can be a victim of crime at home or anywhere in the world. What is most important is to be knowledgeable about where you are and to exercise good common sense.
--Gail Mitsui, Glendale

As a travel agent and lover of Mexico vacations, I think the reader is being overly cautious. I have traveled to Mexico five times since September 2006 and except for one time in Cabo where someone tried to sell me drugs, I have never felt unsafe, even by myself. (I'm in my mid-20s). Follow the basic rules: Don't leave drinks unattended, watch your alcohol intake (and don't do drugs), don't walk alone at night, use reputable tour companies when traveling outside the city, etc. and you should be fine.
--Darlene Anderson, Portland, Ore.

Recent conflicts have been in Mexican border towns hundreds of miles from Cancún and the Riviera Maya. Unfortunately, most Americans are ignorant of the geography of Mexico. They do not know that Mexico is three times the size of Texas. If we had unrest in Los Angeles (riots, gang wars, earthquakes) would you cancel your vacation or meeting/convention in Chicago? I do not think so. In the end, it comes down to common sense.
--Larry J. Pagac, Barcelo Hotels & Resorts, Redondo Beach

My husband and I went to Ensenada for three nights during winter break. We caught a bus down south. Tijuana felt deserted and desperate, but the bus ride was surprisingly pleasant (motor coach with movie and bathroom) and Ensenada did not feel unsafe. The tourist strip was clean and inviting at all hours, and during the day we even wandered within a mile radius or so to visit the stores and loncherias where locals eat, and we never once felt in harm's way. (And the food was far more satisfying than at the tourist restaurants.)

There was a shooting death in Tijuana while we were in Ensenada, but we never felt that such a thing was imminent. I would encourage people to open their hearts and minds to travel in the non-border towns of Mexico once again.
--Crystal Reed, Santa Monica

You can never take caution too far when traveling. It's not as though all these young, inexperienced travelers would stick out, carry money or leave their best judgment at home. . . .

Is it going to take 10,000 or 20,000 lives before we adopt a pro-active mind-set on the drug wars?
--Rhys Logan, Bellingham, Wash.

My wife is from Morelia, Michoacán. We try to go down there at least once a year or every other year with our two kids. We're going for two weeks this summer and everybody is looking forward to it. Sure I get the jitters; I try not to think about too much about everything that's going on. I want my kids to enjoy going to Mexico and to appreciate the food, language, music and culture. I don't want them to grow up in fear that something bad can happen when they go to Mexico. I also like knowing that my money is helping others to keep a job (airlines, taxi, restaurants, etc.).

When we go out, I carry only what we're going to spend that day and that's it. Leave the American Express at home. Even though it is good advice to be aware of your surroundings, I don't stress out about it too much, because I won't enjoy it. Hey, you have to be aware of your surroundings here in L.A.; it's not that much different.

I would recommend that the reader take that trip to enjoy the culture of the Maya and to stimulate the Mexican economy. They need it so much more than we do. Just don't flash your jewels, fancy cameras or anything that's going to make you an easy target.
--Jose Luis Carlos, La Puente

That reader should go. I can't speak for Cancún, but I don't think the Maya country is a problem.

We recently spent eight days in Yucatán, traveling in a group of eight with a Maya-speaking American anthropologist and a local guide. The trip logistics were organized by EcoTurismo Yucatan, a Mérida-based company. We stayed in Mérida, Chichén Itzá, Cobá, Valladolid and Uxmal and visited many other sites, some major, some minor, all fascinating. We saw police checkpoints, but no other evidence of lawlessness. Saturday night in Mérida in the winter is an all-night fiesta with food, music and families out and about on the central plaza. Whatever the problems the drug war is causing in parts of Mexico, they don't seem to be an issue in the Yucatán. I guess she's stuck with Cancún, but if she really wants to see the Mayan sites, she should get out as soon as she can and visit the real Yucatán.

The Mayan people will make her feel welcome.
--Chris Taber, Palm Springs

Rosarito Beach mayor responds to U.S. agency's warning to stay away during spring break

The U.S. State Department has extended a travel alert for Mexican border towns and suggests that visitors to these areas exercise extreme caution because of ongoing violence involving drug dealers warring among themselves and police.

Now the Justice Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has chimed in with a stronger warning that urges college students to avoid parts of northern Mexico during spring break.

This includes Tijuana and nearby Rosarito Beach. The latter town -- for decades a festive spring break party destination -- has not been a focal point for violence, especially in recent weeks. On Tuesday its mayor, Hugo Torres, responded with this message:

"For decades Rosarito has hosted hundreds of thousands of spring breakers without major incident. With additional steps we have taken, such as starting a Tourist Police Force, they will be safer than ever this year and we look forward to welcoming them and ensuring they again have a safe and enjoyable visit."

"The violence we have had down here has been mainly between organized crime factions -- and we have had almost none of that recently. Tourists are not and never have been targets."

To be sure, the U.S. agency's warning represents a devastating and possibly unfair blow to a city trying desperately to regain the confidence of tourists, who are its life blood. During my recent visit I saw few tourists but sensed no fear among hundreds of lifelong residents and ex-pats walking the streets.

Rosarito Beach will host a pro surfing event April 3-5, and a Cinco de Mayo celebration in early May. I, for one, hope both are successful, well-attended events, as this town could surely use a boost.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo courtesy of Rosarito Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau

Mexican tourism official: Travel alerts a ploy to keep dollars in U.S.


SAN LUIS RIO COLORADO, Son. — The two travel alerts sent out by the U.S. State Department warning travelers about an increase in crime in border cities in Baja California and Sonora are really negative advertising to prevent American citizens from crossing to Mexico and spending their dollars there, said David Rojas Rojas, general director of the Mexicali COTUCO, the Comite de Turismo y Convenciones, the Convention and Visitor Bureau, known by its acronym in Spanish COTUCO.

Rojas, who promotes tourism in Los Algodones, Mexicali and San Felipe, said it was obvious that the economic crisis in the U.S. is the reasoning behind curtailing American tourism in order to prevent dollars being spent in Mexico.

“We are not minimizing the violence that exists in our country but we are doing well,” Rojas said pointing out that there is violence in the U.S. as well.

“We know that in Las Vegas there were 4,000 crimes committed and that in San Diego several people have been kidnapped and nothing is said and no one is alerted,” he said.

About spring breakers visiting San Felipe, Rojas said that hotels in the area El Cortez and San Felipe Marina already have a high number of rooms booked.

Just last week, San Felipe and Ensenada were filled with tourists participating in Fat Tuesday carnivals.

On a final note, Rojas said local, state and federal agencies on safety worked cooperatively to provide a safe 2009 Caribbean Series, an international baseball tournament that takes place in Mexicali as well as past international expos such as Agrobaja, a farming and fishing exhibition, which will be March 12-14.

“There will always be campaigning, but we want to make it clear that Mexicali is aware of the travel advisories and we take care of our visitors to the point of providing additional policing especially in tourist areas and events,” Rojas said.