Mexico: New travel advisory system an improvement, but could be better

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The US state department issued an advisory this Wednesday designating category 4 or US "do not travel to" warnings to the border state of Tamaulipas, as well as the Pacific coast states of Sinaloa, Colima, Michoacán and Guerrero putting the states in the same danger category as war-ridden countries such as Somalia, Afghanistan, and Syria.

The system, announced last month, was created in an effort to simplify the information it provides to American travelers about security threats overseas.

"Violent crime, such as murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, extortion, and sexual assault, is common".

Overall, the State Department gave Mexico a category 2 classification, meaning that USA citizens should "exercise increased caution", according to the Times. There are no United States government restrictions for travel to tourist areas such as Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.

This is an improvement for Quintana Roo, as the State Department last summer issued a travel warning for the state due to "turf battles between criminal groups that have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by US citizens".

Read the entire advisory here.

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Mexico's tourism board has not issued a statement on the upgraded warnings. In the USA, it was five.

Preliminary figures suggest that Mexico had a record number of murders in 2017.

The state department has discouraged a visit to these states previously warning citizens about traveling to Los Cabos and Cancun last summer after six dead bodies were hung from bridges near the Mexican tourist resort. Personal travel by land and to the resort city of Acapulco had already been prohibited.

While high-profile killings in certain hot spots have gotten media attention, Mexico's homicide rate is actually closer to the middle of the pack than the top, compared to other nations in the hemisphere. However, despite the cartel activities, Los Cabos saw 16 percent increase in tourism arrivals and an 18 percent rise in hotel occupancy in 2017, reports said, citing Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board.

Earlier this week, Tourism Secretary Enrique De la Madrid said, "In my opinion, the most important challenge we have in the tourism sector are crime events occurring where they didn't before, for example in Cancun, la Paz and Los Cabos".