There have been increasing concerns regarding business and leisure travel to Mexico. It began with media reports alleging tainted alcohol. Soon followed the State Department’s travel warning citing increased violent crime and lack of security in 2016 including homicide, kidnapping, and carjackings in the resort states of Quintana Roo and Baja California Sur. Then, the final straw: news of natural disaster damage.
I recently attended corporate event in Los Cabos, in Baja California Sur. I wanted to share a few insights and recommendations when booking travel to the area.
Traveler health and safety is a top priority for hoteliers, tour operators and destination management companies! They, along with the Mexico Tourism Board, Tourist Minister and the Mexican Federal Government are acutely aware of the problems. They have implemented numerous plans to safeguard travelers. These include additional training and regulations, the installation of cameras for surveillance, government check-points and increased police presence in tourist areas.
Proactive Questions You Should Ask Before Booking
- Does the hotel have adequate security? For groups, will they provide additional support during your program?
- How does the hotel keep guests updated on tips and security suggestions when they want to venture out on their own?
- Is travel planned during hurricane season (June to November)? If so, does the hotel and DMC have an Emergency Management Plan and what are they willing to add to the force majeure to cover potential issues and cancellations?
- Does the hotel have an adequate filtration system and backup generator?
- Does the budget include private airport transfers and ground transportation to off-site events?
- Is alcohol being purchased from a licensed and bonded vendor that meet all standards required by the designated regulatory authorities?
- Does the venue require a valid Certificate of Registration from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for all imported liquors?
- Does the hotel or venue require valid Certificates of Registration from the Mexican authorities for all national liquors, known as COFEPRIS (Comisión Federal para la Protección contra Riesgos Sanitarios) and letters of authorization from all direct liquor manufacturers to the regional or local distributors, validating the import and distribution of their brands?
- Are the hotel, tour companies, and DMC staff trained on recognizing and responding to situations including criminal threats, emergency management procedures, symptoms from excessive alcohol consumption and other health-related issues?
Visitors to Mexico Advised to Avoid
- Adult clubs and gambling establishments in individual states
- Travel on isolated roads or where cell service is limited or non-existent (and keep car doors locked)
- Travel on public transportation at night
- Unlicensed taxi cabs
General Tips When Traveling Abroad
- Attendees should be advised to enroll the trip in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Advise your group to put a “travel notification” on their credit card accounts and set ATM limits. We recommend that Bureau de Change ATMs be used during the day and at reputable locations inside hotels, shops or malls.
- Recommend that smartphones are backed up. Load phones with copies of passports, emergency numbers, and other critical information, are password protected and have the “find phone” app in the on position.
- Advise that attendees are cautious with cash and keep valuables hidden.
- Recommend that guests never leave food or drink unattended.
Traveling to Mexico has a risk, as does any international country including the United States. While there are areas of concern, it remains an excellent location for corporate meetings, incentives and leisure travel. Just remember to stay informed, prepared and aware so you and your group will have a wonderful time!