I am often asked if Mazatlán is safe? Is Puerto Vallarta safe? Is Mexico safe? I am not going to sugar coat the facts, but I often think people don’t realize all the facts. The resort areas in Mexico are safe for tourists to visit.
I was recently interviewed on Cruise Radio pertaining to the port of Mazatlán and explained my take on its safety. You can listen to the episode here. But in talking to the Cruise experts I learned about the drastic change to the industry and how those changes might affect a community. So I was happy to see that a group of foreign expats from both the US and Canada decided to frame and send an open letter to the Cruise industry. Below is that letter.
OPEN LETTER TO:
*Cruise Lines International Association [CLIA]
*Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association [FCCA]
FROM: Concerned Foreign Residents of Mazatlan
SUBJECT: Mazatlan Remains A Premier Destination For Pacific Cruises –SPECIAL REQUEST
On behalf of thousands of Americans and Canadians living in Mazatlan, Mexico, we are writing to request your assistance in dispelling certain myths regarding the safety of foreigners in Mazatlan. We are deeply troubled by the perpetuation of these myths by some members of your association, as exemplified in a December 2011 statement issued by Holland America to travelers, which states in part, “Due to guest safety concerns the call to Mazatlan has been replaced with an additional day in Puerto Vallarta with an overnight on board ship.” Of course, we are equally concerned by the ongoing distortions and amplification by the North American media when reporting events in Mazatlan.
We understand that some of your members, including Holland America, have already begun making arrangements to return to Mazatlan in late 2012 and early 2013. We applaud this return; however, by emphasizing sensational warnings, like the one above, then delaying their return to Mazatlan by a year, these companies are denying their patrons a unique travel experience. This action, in turn, makes it difficult for the city, its businesses, and citizens, to maintain the infrastructure required to effectively support cruise-goers.
We realize also that your members, just like those associated with any other industry, need to make decisions based on customer demand and other important factors. Our concern is that distorted claims that Mazatlan is unsafe, serve to undermine demand, not only among cruise patrons, but tourists overall. The perception, not only affects the businesses that serve these visitors, but denies foreign residents, like us, the pleasure of drop-in visits from many of our friends cruising the Pacific.
As part of the recent production of a U Tube Video, producers sought responses among the foreign community in Mazatlan to the question, “Is Mazatlan safe to visit?” From the input received and our own perceptions, we are able to conclude the following:
- Is there violence in Mazatlan? Of course there is, but no more than the major cities cruise guests hail from or most of the ports of call your members currently serve. In fact, the peace and serenity of Mazatlan are among the many reasons close to eight thousands North Americans choose to spend a good part of their year here.
- Is the violence in Mazatlan targeted toward tourists? Absolutely not. The U.S. State Department website notes that violence is primarily between criminal organizations and occurs outside of tourist areas. Our collective experience in going about our daily business also supports this conclusion.
- Is there petty theft in Mazatlan? Yes there is. Just as in other large cities, visitors and residents alike are encouraged to take basic precautions. And, in fact, the State and local governments have instituted an enhanced permanent Security Plan of which no doubt you have been informed.
Mazatlan is called the “Pearl of the Pacific” for a reason. It offers unique opportunities for visitors to enjoy genuine Mexican hospitality and culture, including beautiful beaches, delicious cuisine and superior art and jewelry. Besides 20 excursions dedicated to cruise passengers, Mazatlan hosted, in 2011, more than 40 annual events, including the international Carnival, several professional golf and fishing tournaments, International Motorcycle Week, The Great Pacific Marathon, etc.
As residents of Mazatlan, we want to reassure travelers that our beautiful city is not only safe, but also a “must see” Pacific Coast destination. So, we request that you please forward this letter to the appropriate contacts at your member institutions.
In sum, we appreciate the numerous factors that your members must consider when deciding ports of call. We simply ask that you assist us in educating these members on the facts regarding traveler safety in Mazatlan, and the adverse impact that unsubstantiated statements can have on our community.
We should also emphasize that this letter has in no way been initiated or endorsed by any Mexican organization, or authority. As we hope you can see, our message to you is a heartfelt reflection of concern, by the foreign residents in Mazatlan.
*Foreign Residents of Mazatlan
*I left off the specific email names and addresses of the addressed and senders to allow for privacy. But I did think it was very interesting that the expat community understands the impact the cruise industry has on a city, its people and the community. A community they now call home.
A special thanks to Jimm Budd a columnist from the Reforma paper in Mexico. He shared the letter with me and keeps a pulse on the Mexico Tourism industry. You can visit Jimm on Facebook and also at his travel site.
Photo: by Craig Zabransky