Spring break season offers happy prospects for U.S. college students seeking to unwind from long winters spent studying, and for Mexican beach resorts hoping to pull in tourist dollars with cheap travel deals.
But there's an extra element at stake for resorts along the Mayan Riviera this year. In January, two multi-victim shootings occurred in Cancun, including one at the state prosecutor's office.
In general, Cancun has escaped the drug-related violence that has plagued the rest of the country. But the shootings raised the possibility that Cancun could become a victim, just as Acapulco has.
That one-time haven of Hollywood celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor suffered so many gang-related attacks in recent years that it is now effectively off limits to tourists and even State Department personnel. "Personal travel to the state of Guerrero, including Acapulco, is prohibited for U.S. government personnel," the State Department says in its latest warning on Mexico, issued in December.
But in one potentially good sign for Cancun, earlier this month Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste (ASR) , which operates Cancun and several other airports in southeast Mexico, reported international passenger traffic rose 4.9% from the previous February to 1,358,164.
And judging by reports of U.S. kids shouting "build the wall," on a local cruise, there are still plenty of Ugly Americans showing up.
Here's a map showing (in red) which Mexican states currently have travel advisories in place from the U.S. State Department.
In addition, U.S. government officials' movements are restricted in nearly 40% of Mexico's states, including all four bordering Texas. The State Department has also imposed overnight curfews on U.S. personnel in several states. And in many others, travel is restricted to daylight hours, along major highways only.
In Ciudad Juarez, across the Rio Grande river border from El Paso, Tex., the warnings extend to street-by-street guidance. "U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling after dark west of Eje. Juan Gabriel and south of Boulevard Zaragoza. Defer non-essential travel to the areas southeast of Boulevard Independencia and the Valle de Juarez region," the guidance for Chihuahua state says.
In Coahuila state, which also borders Texas: "Violence and criminal activity, including homicide, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, extortion, and sexual assault, pose significant and continuing security concerns," according to the State Department warning.
Tamaulipas, the state across the border from Brownsville, Texas has seen local and state governance effectively disappear, according to the warning, "The number of reported kidnappings in Tamaulipas is among the highest in Mexico. State and municipal law enforcement capacity is limited to nonexistent in many parts of Tamaulipas. Violent criminal activity occurs more frequently along the northern border," the document said.