Numbers Don’t Lie
Statistics dispel common misconceptions about México.
Article from Los Cabos Magazine issue 43 Spring 2016. By Chris Sands
There is still a misconception among some—fed by what are often one-sided portrayals in the U.S. media—that México is wracked by drug-related violence and unsafe for travel. That simply isn’t the case, as anyone who has actually visited the country can attest.
While it’s undeniable that México, like every country in the world, suffers from crime and has some undesirable areas, the vast majority of its cities and communities—cape cities Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo in particular—are extremely safe. And the statistics bear this out.
Here’s a look as some of the most recent numbers, which not only put the lie to the assertion that México is proportionately more dangerous than other popular travel destinations but also to the idea that Americans are afraid to travel in México because of safety concerns.
1 – México is the No. 1 travel destination for U.S. visitors.
25.4 – That’s the number of people from the United States—in millions—who visited México in 2014. As Travel Weekly reported, using data from the National Travel and Tourism Office of the U.S. Commerce Department, a record number of Americans—68.3 million, to be exact—traveled abroad in 2014, breaking the record previously set in 2007. México accounted for 34 percent of the year’s foreign travel, nearly doubling the total of Canada (19 percent) and Europe (18 percent) combined.
3,900 – The number of new hotel rooms expected to come online in Los Cabos during the next two years, pushing the total to more than 18,000. That’s an increase of 28 percent over 2015 availability, and it reflects the strong uptick in international travel to Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. As Forbes Magazine noted in a recent profile: “Strong new hotel brands are headed to Los Cabos, such as the recently opened The Cape: A Thompson Hotel and the upcoming The Ritz-Carlton, Auberge’s VieVage, Starwood’s Solaz Montage, Nobu Hotel Los Cabos, Mar Adentro by Encanto and the Hard Rock Hotel, which will all dramatically transform the coastline by end of 2017.”
12 – The number of times more likely U.S. visitors are to be murdered in their own country, versus México. As Baja Insider points out, the murder rate of U.S. tourists in México in 2014 was “a minuscule 0.39 per 100,000 visitors. Putting those numbers in perspective, not a single U.S. city with a population of more than 100,000 has a murder rate that low, and only 5 countries in the world are that safe to live in: Lichtenstein, Monaco, Singapore, Japan and Iceland.”
These are only a few of the latest statistics to dispel the notion that México’s many charms—including beautiful beaches, outstanding food, and friendly and outgoing people—are overshadowed by crime problems. They aren’t, and they never were. But prospective visitors should be aware that problem areas do exist, if sometimes for only a brief period. This was the case in Baja California Sur’s capital city, La Paz, which suffered through a two-year period of cartel-related violence.
That sad period is mentioned in the most recent U.S. State Department travel warnings about Baja California Sur, which were the first ever to be issued for the area.
- Baja California Sur: Cabo San Lucas and La Paz are major cities/travel destinations in the state of Southern Baja California – Exercise caution in the state capital of La Paz. According to the Department of Interior of Mexico, in 2013 Baja California Sur registered its highest homicide rate since 1997. Many of these homicides occurred in La Paz, where there has been an increase in organized crime-related violence.
But let’s be clear about one more stat:
0 – That’s the number of U.S. visitors harmed during La Paz’s recent crime surge.
The bottom line is that no matter where you are, you should exercise caution and observe a few simple rules. Be aware of your surroundings, don’t get overly intoxicated, and understand what the real risks are. For example, driving and swimming offer much greater potential for harm in Los Cabos than crime. But even these can be mitigated with a little local knowledge: namely, that one shouldn’t rent a car without a basic knowledge of Spanish-language street signs, and that rip currents are very strong off Cabo San Lucas’s Pacific Ocean side beaches.
So be smart, stay safe, and by all means enjoy Los Cabos!