WorldLatin America and Caribbean


Many concerned about traveling to Mexico due to safety concerns

The recent kidnapping of four Americans in Mexico, among other incidents, has many wondering whether traveling into the country is safe.
Posted at 8:19 PM, Mar 08, 2023

Brownsville, Texas, is one of many border towns across the country where every day people go across the border into Mexico to shop, meet friends and family and even vacation. But after what happened in the Mexican city of Matamoros, where four Americans were kidnapped, many wonder if traveling into Mexico is safe.

"From the U.S. alone there’s over 20 million travelers that go by air to Mexico, that number obviously came down during the pandemic, but it’s expected to rise again," said A.J. Singh, founding director of hospitality and tourism management at UTRGV.

On the southern coast of Texas, it’s quite the normal routine for people to spend some vacation time in Mexico.

Tourism is important to Mexico. It makes up about 8% of its gross domestic product.

But after two Americans were killed in recent violence in Mexico, some people wanting to visit the country are shaken.

SCRIPPS NEWS' TOMAS HOPPOUGH: When something like this happens in Matamoros, how does that affect traveling into Mexico?

A.J. SINGH: Our industry, the traveling tourism industry is always impacted by external events. Whether it’s terrorism, kidnapping, bombing or war. Cause, when you’re traveling to a different destination, anything that puts fear in the minds of people is going to impact travel.

The U.S. State Department describes violent crime in Mexico as wide spread and warns that the U.S. has "limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens."

Crime scene where gunmen kidnapped four U.S. citizens who crossed into Mexico from Texas, Friday, March 3, 2023.

Data: Hundreds of 'malicious homicides' in Mexico's Tamaulipas state

Government data shows hundreds of "malicious homicides" happened last year in Mexican state where four Americans were recently kidnapped.


The U.S. cites six states in Mexico as places Americans should not travel, including the state where Matamoros is located — Tamaulipas.

It lists seven states where Americans should reconsider traveling to including Jalisco, known for Puerto Vallarta, though tourists are not typically the targets in gang conflicts.

One area of Mexico to be aware of, the Quintana Roo area that includes Cancun. The U.S. Consulate is warning tourists of a clashes between taxi drivers there and car services such as Uber and Cabify. Those turf clashes have occasionally turned violent and Americans have been injured.

HOPPOUGH: When something like this happens I think a lot of people are trying to figure out, 'is it safe for me to try and go to Cancun?'

SINGH: Other popular destinations like you just mentioned – Cancun. They’re very safe cause they’re in a controlled environment. I don’t expect this incident that took place along the border to have an effect on those places like Cancun.

But for travel agencies like Jo Liston’s "Go with Jo," some people have already started to change plans.

"This recent episode that happened in Matamoros will affect my business. We’ve received one cancellation and we are certainly not getting anyone new on the next trip I have," Liston said. "Basically, what I tell them when they asked me if it’s safe – I say it’s as safe as anywhere in the world, if you respect the people and are not into drugs. If they’re into drugs, I do not want them on my bus. I’ve never had a problem — I don’t want a problem."

Experts say research and planning is crucial during these times and staying alert to your surroundings wherever you travel.