With university students already deep in anticipation of the coming Spring Break revelry, the state of Texas today warned residents not to travel to Mexico for the third year in a row, according to Reuters.
The state government cited drug cartel violence and crime were a threat even in resort areas.
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The news agency said the announcement was made despite repeated lobbying from Mexican officials who said the travel warning should not warn tourists against travel to resorts.
Tourism is Mexico’s largest industry and 60 percent of arrivals are either from Texas or pass through the state, according to Reuters.
Mexican authorities revealed in January that official records showed nearly 50,000 people had died in the drug war since 2006.
"The Mexican government has made great strides battling the cartels, and we commend their continued commitment to making Mexico a safer place to live and visit," Steve McCraw, the Texas director of public safety, was quoted as saying. "However, drug cartel violence and other criminal activity represent a significant safety threat, even in some resort areas."
In Mexico, 120 Americans were murdered last year, up from 35 in 2007, Reuters said, citing McCraw.
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According to Reuters, Rodolfo Lopez Negrete, chief operating officer at Mexico's Tourism Board, told Texas officials that the drug cartel violence is largely confined to isolated northern areas along the Rio Grande.
"Those pockets where this violence is taking place are very well identified," Lopez Negrete was quoted as saying last week. "This is totally unrelated to tourism. This is not about attacking tourists."
A State Department warning does not warn against travel to all areas of Mexico. As USA Today observed, this warning “urges U.S. travelers to defer non-essential travel to all or parts of 14 Mexican states, four more than 2011" and "also excludes such popular resort areas as Cancun, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta.”
During a live chat on Facebook, the US State Department said “thousands and thousands of people travel safely to Mexico every year. Tourist towns are among the safest places in Mexico. We just want you to be aware of your surroundings.”