Monday, March 4, 2024

Mexico’s tourism minister pushes for changes to US travel alerts

The United States could soon change the way it formulates its travel advice for Mexico, the Tourism Ministry (Sectur) has suggested.

Mexico is pushing for the U.S. government’s travel alerts to be more specific than they currently are, arguing that the State Department’s advice against traveling to some destinations is misguided.

Federal Tourism Minister Miguel Torruco, Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, Esteban Moctezuma, and state tourism ministers met virtually with State Department officials to discuss the issue on Wednesday. Sectur subsequently issued a press release with the heading “Mexico and the United States move forward on agreements so that travel alerts are correctly targeted.”

In its current advisory, the State Department warns U.S. citizens not to travel to six states — Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas — due to crime or crime and kidnapping, and advises Americans to reconsider their need to travel to seven others.

The Sectur statement noted that Torruco, during a trip to Washington, D.C., in May, suggested that U.S. travel alerts should “detail the areas that could represent problems and not generalize, as some isolated cases of insecurity are numerous kilometers from tourism destinations.”

The current alerts for each state do go beyond a one sentence advisory, but the Mexican government is clearly unhappy with the level 4 warnings against travel to some destinations, such as Acapulco and Zihuatanejo in Guerrero, the monarch butterfly reserve in Michoacán and Colima city.

The Sectur statement said that Torruco emphasized the close relationship between Mexico and the United States, and “invited the attendees to continue working in synergy … to find solutions to mutual problems.”

“We live in an era in which the destiny of countries is not built in an individual and isolated way, but jointly with friendly nations. In North America we’ve understood that prosperity and security will be greater and stronger if we work together,” the tourism minister said.

Tourism Minister Miguel Torruco (right) and other officials tune into a virtual meeting with the U.S. State Department.
Tourism Minister Miguel Torruco (right) and other officials tune into a virtual meeting with the U.S. State Department. Twitter @SECTUR_mx

Moctezuma, who was education minister in the current government before becoming ambassador to the U.S. in early 2021, “highlighted the importance of the link between U.S. State Department authorities and the ministers and representatives of the entities of Mexico in order to have more nurtured dialogue that allows the situation in each of the country’s tourist destinations to be understood,” according to the Sectur statement.

Federal and state authorities in Mexico are presumably setting out the case for why level 4 (Do not travel), or even level 3 (Reconsider Travel), travel alerts shouldn’t apply to some destinations within states for which such advisories are in force.

Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard said earlier this year that Mexico has “never agreed with the alerts” because they are imposed unilaterally by the United States.

Sectur also made note of the remarks made at Wednesday’s meeting by Angela Kerwin, deputy assistant secretary with the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs. She said that “timely information is the key to promoting tourism … to Mexico,” the ministry’s statement said.

“In this way tourists and United States residents [in Mexico] will know the condition of the destination they’re visiting or where they live in a timely way,” Kerwin said.

Torruco stressed that the U.S. market is extremely important for the Mexican tourism industry, noting that over 10 million Americans flew into the country last year. Tourists from the U.S. and other foreign countries have been affected by crime in Mexico, and even murdered, but the vast majority of visitors have no major problems while they’re here and, as Kerwin noted, enjoy the country’s beaches, cities, food and warm people.

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