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Tourists urged to use sense on safety
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Detroit Free Press (MCT) - How safe are resorts in Mexican tourist areas?
In the past three months, both Acapulco and Cancun have had sporadic violence and drug-related homicides. However, as in many large American cities, the violence is between gangs and law enforcement and is not in tourist areas. Tourists have not been targeted.
So far this season, thousands of spring-break visitors have poured into Cancun, Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta as usual, with Mexican authorities stepping up patrols and vigilance to ensure safety in the tourist towns.
Last year, more than 18 million Americans visited Mexico, which is the 10th most popular tourist destination in the world.
A State Department travel alert issued Feb. 20 does not urge travelers to avoid Mexico. It only urges caution and advises against travel to Mexican border towns such as Tijuana, Juarez and Laredo.
In a spring-break advisory, it also advised that travelers to Acapulco be vigilant about personal safety. In Acapulco, where an estimated 22,000 American students are expected this spring, officials are coordinating enhanced security in the tourist zones, according to the Mexico Tourist Board.
Still, the major dangers for tourists to Mexico remain auto accidents, falls, drownings, pickpockets or sexual assaults related to drinking and parties. There were two fatal shark attacks on surfers off the far southern Pacific coast of Mexico last year, according to Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The State Department urged visitors to avoid swimming in rough surf near Revolcadero Beach in Acapulco or anywhere off the Pacific-side beaches in Cabo San Lucas, due to riptides and undertows.
In an emergency while on vacation, U.S. citizens should contact these American consulates:
Acapulco: Inside Hotel Continental Emporio, Costera Miguel Aleman 121, Office 14. Telephone: 52-744-484-0300.
Cabo San Lucas: Blvd. Marina Local C-4, Plaza Nautica, Col. Centro. Telephone: 52-624-143-3566 .
Puerto Vallarta: Paseo de Los Cocoteros No. 85 Sur, Paradise Plaza, Office L-7, Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit C.P. 63732. Telephone: 52-322-222-0069.
Cancun: Ocampo No. 305, Col. Centro. Telephone: 52-998-883-0272.
FIVE TIPS FOR VACATIONING IN MEXICO'S RESORT TOWNS
1. Now's a good time to check out end-of-season airfare-hotel packages. Ask your travel agent or see www.funjet.com; www.applevacations.com or www.nwaworldvacations.com.
2. Look into booking a condo for your visit _ it's cheaper than a resort. Try www.homeaway.com.
3. A bonus of Mexico's Pacific-side resorts? Terrific sunsets over the ocean. Remember, you're looking west.
4. Dust off your high school Spanish and use it if you can. It will be appreciated.
5. Resist time-share pitches, which are everywhere and extremely aggressive, even inside upscale resorts. Whatever freebies they're offering aren't worth the hassle or loss of your vacation time at a long "presentation." Say no, do not sign anything and walk away.
© 2009, Detroit Free Press.
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