Cancun is one of the most popular travel destinations for Canadians, but many travellers are unaware of the heightened violence that has overwhelmed the city in recent months.
Just this week, five individuals were found dead in the Yucatán Peninsula where Cancun is situated, adding to a death toll that has already surpassed 100 this year alone. Such killings are believed to have resulted from increased activity by drug cartels, who have recently begun to move their operations into tourist-rich areas.
While they aren't actively targeting tourists in their violent sprees, they still pose a significant safety risk for travellers. Violence related to organized crime saw a dramatic increase throughout Mexico last year, and there have been several shooting incidents in which innocent bystanders were injured or killed in the crossfire.
Isolated incidents involving Canadians, such as kidnappings and stabbings, have also occurred during trips to Mexico in the past. One incident left a Vancouver man named Diego Hernandez missing after he and an American man were abducted by police officers in Puerto Vallarta. Another incident saw couple from Vaughan, Ont. slashed to death in their hotel rooms during a trip to the Riviera Maya. Their killer has still not been found.
Most recently, gunmen on jetskis attempted a drive-by shooting on the water by the beach of a Cancun resort, opening fire on a beach vendor they appeared to be targeting. Luckily no one was wounded, but the fact that the incident took place in the middle of the day when crowds of tourists were out on the beach is startling.
Sean O'Shea, a reporter for Global News, worries that "travellers to the beach destination may not be given much notice of what they're in for." In fact, several travel agents continue to promote the Mexican destinations as "100 per cent safe," despite the recent killings.
Mexicoâ€™s party hotspot Cancun sees 14 murdered in 36 hours as tourist town is overrun by drug gang violence MEXICOâ€™S most popular holiday hotspot has become overrun with drug gangs, as violence in the tourist party town... https://t.co/0UZK7q6gmF pic.twitter.com/yp0J0Fgacj
They also do not bring attention to the fact that the Government of Canada has a travel advisory in place for Mexico, complete with warnings encouraging Canadians to avoid non-essential travel to certain regions in the country. The U.S. government has given a similar caution, listing the Quintana Roo state (where Cancun is located) as a Level 2 risk.
Despite the lack of a travel advisory for Cancun specifically, Canadians who are planning to travel there in the near future are still advised to take extra caution.