Citizens’ perceptions of insecurity have declined over the past year in several of Mexico’s most popular coastal tourism destinations, according to the results of a national survey.
Among the destinations where fewer residents felt unsafe in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period a year earlier were Los Cabos, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Mazatlán and Acapulco.
In Los Cabos, located on the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, 39.7% of residents polled in the first quarter of 2020 by the national statistics agency (Inegi) said the resort city was unsafe. A year later, the percentage was 13.5 points lower at 26.2%.
Los Cabos was ranked as the most violent city in the world in 2017 by the Citizens’ Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice, a Mexican NGO, but the security situation in the popular destination has improved markedly since then.
A majority of residents of Guerrero’s Pacific coast resort towns of Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa still say the area is unsafe, but the percentage declined from 79.5% in the first quarter of 2020 to 60.1% a year later.
Tourists and tourism sector workers have occasionally been caught up in violence in the area: a United States man was murdered in Ixtapa in December 2017; a U.S. couple was killed in the municipality of Petatlán, which borders Zihuatanejo, in July 2019 and the then president of the Zihuatanejo Hoteliers’ Association was murdered the same month.
The percentage of residents who believe Mazatlán, Sinaloa, and Acapulco, Guerrero — the latter being a city that was once dubbed the murder capital of Mexico — are unsafe also declined. In Mazatlán, the percentage fell to 45.1% from 57.6%. In Acapulco, it dropped to 79%, whereas previously it had been 81.5%.
In contrast, the percentage of residents who believe Cancún and Puerto Vallarta are unsafe increased over the same period.
Cancún’s figure rose 0.5% to 86.1% in the first quarter of 2021. The destination, also a hive of cartel activity, ranked as the sixth most unsafe city among the 85 whose residents were surveyed by Inegi in the first quarter of 2021, although insecurity perceptions declined 2% from the previous quarter.
In Puerto Vallarta, located on Jalisco’s Pacific coast, the percentage of residents who believe the city is unsafe rose to 35.5%. Before, it had been 31.8%. The highest-profile case of violence in the city in the intervening period was the murder of former Jalisco governor Aristóteles Sandoval last December.
According to the president of the business-travel industry council Comir, the improvement in security perceptions in destinations such as Los Cabos and Mazatlán can be used to promote travel to Mexican beach destinations for leisure purposes and to attract business meetings and conferences. That promotion should occur both domestically and internationally, Alejandro Ramírez said.
The Comir chief acknowledged, however, that a lot still needs to be done to improve security in Mexico.
“The United States recently updated its alerts for Mexico and other countries. We also have to recognize that in the case of Cancún, even though there is an improvement [compared to the last quarter of 2020], the situation” remains concerning and requires urgent attention, Ramírez said.
“… Something must be done, … it’s necessary for the recovery of a lot of jobs.”
Source: El Heraldo de México (sp)