PHOENIX -- On Wednesday, the U.S. State Department extended its warning for Americans traveling to Mexico.
This report goes into more detail than the one issued this February, giving a state-by-state rundown of specific dangers in each area.
“The biggest danger is going to be the Northern region, the border region,” said Michelle Donati with AAA Arizona.
Areas like Tijuana, Nogales and Ciudad Juarez have been plagued by violence, and the government lists specific gun battles and other crimes as evidence of why Americans should defer all non-essential travel to those areas.
The good news for travelers is that most of the tourist destinations remain safe.
“The warning does indicate that many of the travel destinations are still ok to visit,” said Donati. “You can still go to these places, but exercise extreme caution.”
Popular destinations that are exempted from the warning include Puerto Vallerta, Oaxaca and Mexico City, among others. Mazatlan is also exempt, but the state of Sinaola is not.
Donati said Americans can still safely travel to Rocky Point, a popular destination for Arizonans.
“Rocky Point is one of those areas the State Department says is safe to travel to, but again exercise extreme caution,” she said.
Mike Jarvinen, owner of Head Out to Rocky Point, which shuttles people from Phoenix to Rocky Point, said he continues to make about one trip per day to the Mexican city.
“My clients say they are very impressed with the military and police presence there. They are surprised after hearing bad news in the media that it is actually very safe,” said Jarvinen.
Jarvinen also said that he personally feels safe traveling to Rocky Point.
“Oh, absolutely. My wife spends three nights a week there by herself,” he said.
The State Department included this statement in the report:
“…millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day. The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect U.S. citizens and other visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) have targeted U.S. visitors and residents based on their nationality. Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime reported in the border region and in areas along major trafficking routes."
AAA Arizona has travel tips for Arizonans heading to Mexico:
Avoid nighttime travel
Travel in groups
Bring a cell phone, and make sure it has international calling capacity
Avoid bringing flashy jewelry and electronics
Stay in the exempt tourist areas