by Michael J. Shapiro | March 01, 2012

The U.S. Department of State issued an updated travel warning for Mexico last month, superseding the warning issued in April 2011. While much of the wording is similar to last year's advice, the new warning conveys more geographical detail about problem areas and, significantly, specifies major tourist destinations for which no advisory is in effect. Links to a map (click here) also are included, to provide context and reference for the specific travel advice.

The extra detail earned kudos from some parts of the Mexican government and industry officials. "The Mexico Tourism Board has long advocated for travel advisories that abide by three key tenants: context, clarity and specificity," said the board's COO, Rodolfo López Negrete. "The revised travel advisory adheres to these principles and should serve as a model for the rest of the world."

In terms of general conditions that apply to the country as a whole, the warning begins by stating that "millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism and business" and reminds travelers that there isn't any evidence that criminal organizations have targeted U.S. citizens based on their nationality. The warning adds that tourism destinations typically don't see the levels of violence more prevalent in border cities and on major drug-trafficking routes.

The document names a number of states and cities for which no advisory is in effect, among them Baja California Sur (home to Los Cabos), the states of the Yucatán peninsula (which include the popular tourist destinations of Cancún, Riviera Maya and Mérida), Mexico City, Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit.

Yet, the State Depart­ment warns citizens that crime and violence are serious problems that can happen anywhere in Mexico, and that visitors should avoid traveling to the specific areas outlined in the advisory, exercise caution when traveling throughout the northern border region and generally avoid drawing attention to themselves with signs of wealth.

In a detailed breakdown, the State Department said citizens should avoid non­essential travel to the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango and Tamaulipas. More specific advice is provided for areas to avoid in 10 additional states; for example, travelers are advised to avoid the state of Nuevo Leon, except for the city of Monterrey, in which they should exercise caution. Likewise, travelers to Acapulco are advised to avoid specific parts of the city.

Additional information is available at