Mexico travel advice: Foreign Office issues warning for UK travellers after violence escalates

mexico travel advice foreign office issues warning for uk travellers after violence escalates

The Foreign Office has issued a warning against travel to large parts of Mexico, in which it is considered that risk to British nationals is unacceptably high, as drug cartel-related violence continues to escalate. It now warns against non-essential travel to the majority of seven states: Chihuahua, Zacatecas, Sinaloa, Michoacan, Guerrero, Tamaulipas, Colima, as well as much of the states of Jalisco, parts of Guanajuato and the city of Tijuana that borders California in the US.

Tourism is largely concentrated outside these areas, on the Yucatan peninsula, Baja California, Mexico City and Pacific coast resorts around Puerto Vallarta, to which the Foreign Office does not currently advise against travelling to. The Guerrero resort city of Acapulco is also excluded from the latest advice, but the Foreign, Commonwealth an Development Office (FCDO) cautions that “due to an increase in violent crime, [visitors] should be extra vigilant in Acapulco and surrounding areas” and should – if possible – arrive by air, rather than by road in Guerrero state.

In the same context, it warns that “drug-related violence in Mexico has increased over recent years” and that while violence is more heavily concentrated in some areas, “few areas are totally immune”. The warning explains that major tourist destinations, including Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel on the Caribbean coast and Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific, have an increased police presence.

More on Americas Travel

However, the Foreign Office warns that there have been clashes between rival criminal gangs in and around Cancun in the past 18 months. Two foreign tourists were killed in Tulum in October 2021, with more injured during a shootout in Puerto Morelos in July and in Playa del Carmen the following month. While tourists are not directly targeted, some have been caught in the violence and, the FCDO warns, “British travellers have been physically and sexually assaulted”.

Tourists are advised to “exercise increased caution after dark in downtown areas of Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen, and remain in well-lit pedestrian streets and tourist zones”. They have also been directed to monitor local advice, remain vigilant and follow the advice of the local authorities and their tour operator.

In August, the US Bureau of Consular Affairs issued a “Do Not Travel” alert for the states of Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas due to crime and kidnapping risks, with a “Reconsider Travel” warning for seven more states.

Popular winter sun destination

In the first six months of this year, Mexico welcomed more than 21m tourist arrivals. The UK is the country’s fourth biggest market (behind the US, Canada and Colombia), with 325,446 visitors between January and July this year – almost a 700 per cent increase from 2021. The country is a popular winter sun destination for British tourists, with package holidays offered by major operators, including Tui and Virgin Holidays.

Overall, the biggest port of entry was the Caribbean city of Cancun in Yucatan, followed by Mexico City, Los Cabos (Baja California) and Puerto Vallarta.

Since he took office in 2018, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador replaced the country’s federal police with a new national guard to combat corruption and quell drug-fueled violence. This month, the national guard was put under military control.

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