Mexico can’t catch a break! It seems I have written that leading line many times. But it is true. Once again the US State Department has issued a travel warning that has people freaking out about traveling to Mexico. What’s a travel professional to do? And this time, the warning is a little more bizarre than those in the past.
While most of my clients just hear Mexico and freak, they do not read the warnings. And as they say, the devil is in the details.
U.S. government personnel are prohibited from travel to Centro, Calica, Gonzalo Guerrero, Quintas del Carmen, and Villas del Carmen neighborhoods of Playa del Carmen. These neighborhoods are bordered by Avenida Benito Juarez, 50 Avenida Sur (Highway 307), and Calle 34 Norte. U.S. citizens should avoid those neighborhoods until further notice. U.S. government personnel are authorized to travel to resort areas in Riviera Maya including those near Playa del Carmen that are outside the restricted neighborhoods of this alert.
U.S. government personnel are still prohibited from using ferry services between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel until further notice. U.S. citizens should not use ferry services operating between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel.
There are no restrictions on U.S. government employees for travel to other parts of Quintana Roo state, including tourist areas such as: Cancun, Cozumel, Tulum, and the Riviera Maya
Emphasis is THEIRS! This all stemmed from an explosion on a ferry that was owned by a business that is no longer in business. The cause was undetermined, but widely expected to NOT be a crime targeting tourists. This warning is for specific neighborhoods of Playa del Carmen. NOT the entire city. IT specifically exempts the Riviera Maya, Cancun, Cozumel, and Tulum! Yet here we are with a panic on behalf of our clients.
There are neighborhoods in my town that I tell people all the time to not visit. Why is this necessary?
As I said, several of my clients are concerned and there is not much I can do other than offer my advice and show them the actual warning explaining (on a map) the location of their resort and the affected neighborhoods. Of course the decision to cancel or reschedule is theirs alone; but I do try to point out that there are drugs, muggings, murders, and other crime in our own communities.
I suggest that as decent citizens we stay away from crime-ridden areas in our home towns and behave in a similar fashion while away. My expertise is in interpreting these places and giving the client the best information possible to plan the best trip possible. I explain that the properties we use are vetted by our agency, our suppliers, and in many cases the larger corporation that owns them.
I do explain that I cannot ever guarantee their safety abroad just as I could not guarantee their safe arrival to meet me to plan a trip.
Usually, my clients are reasonable. Sometimes not. But I always let them know the decision is ultimately theirs.
If this warning is having an impact on your business (or you think it might), why not be a bit proactive? Write a column for your local paper. Send out an e-blast (make sure you craft a killer headline) and lay it all out. Show your clients that you are on the ball, that you have their interests at heart, and that you are willing to tackle all of the issues head-on. After all, isn’t that what they are paying you for? You are charging fees…right?