by Michael J. Shapiro | August 23, 2017
The United States Department of State issued an updated Travel Warning for Mexico yesterday, replacing the previous warning, which had been issued in December 2016. The State Department issues such updates on a regular basis, and while relatively little was changed to the overall warning, there are some specific updates of note.

One addition occurred for the state of Quintana Roo, which includes the Caribbean tourist destinations of Cancún, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, the Riviera Maya and Tulum. The warning advises U.S. citizens that the state's homicide rate has increased year-over-year. "While most of these homicides appeared to be targeted criminal organization assassinations," reads the warning, "turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens. Shooting incidents, in which innocent bystanders have been injured or killed, have occurred."

While that wording has been part of the Mexico Travel Warning for years, this is the first time it has appeared for the popular tourist destination of Quintana Roo. The most high-profile incident occurred early this year in Playa del Carmen, when five people were killed in a shootout during an electronic music festival. 

Violence also has increased this year near the resorts of Los Cabos, in Baja California Sur on the country's Pacific coast. The previous Travel Warning mentioned that state as well, although yesterday's update also notes the increase over last year's murder rate. "Exercise caution," reads the updated warning, "as Baja California Sur continues to experience a high rate of homicides."

The Quintana Roo State Tourism agency issued a statement in response to the updated U.S. warning, underscoring the fact that the State Department hasn't issued any travel restrictions for the state, but merely is notifying U.S. citizens of the clashes and higher homicide rate. 

The state government has been open about the incidents that have been reported in some areas, acknowledges the statement, "but in Quintana Roo, tourists are safe and secure." The state tourism agency has been working in collaboration with the Mexican Federal Government and U.S. authorities on all matters of security, the statement adds.

Hotels in Quintana Roo have enjoyed an 89 percent occupancy rate this summer, according to state tourism officials, hosting almost 2.3 million visitors who accounted for an economic influx of more than US$1.9 billion.

The State Department also imposed stricter limitations on U.S. government employees to other states in the country. Personal travel to the state of Guerrero, which includes the resort city of Acapulco, is now prohibited for government personnel. Due to the presence of many armed self-defense groups, the warning advises, the situation there is volatile, even if tourists are not a target. In the states of Chiapas and Veracruz, travel is restricted to tourist areas for government employees.

In the Pacific state of Colima, U.S. citizens are advised to avoid travel to the parts of the eastern part of the state near the Michoacán border and to avoid highway 110 between La Tecomaca and the state of Jalisco.