LOS CABOS, Mexico
In reaction to the U.S. Department of State’s new tiered travel advisory system introduced on Wednesday, Jan. 10, the Los Cabos Tourism Board is emphasizing its level of safety. The Mexico Tourism Board and others already raised some concerns about where certain destinations in Mexico ranked.
Los Cabos is a “Level 2” destination under the new advisory system, as is all of Mexico. The Level 2 advisory indicates that travelers should “exercise increased caution," though five other states—Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas—are at Level 4, which advises travelers to avoid travel.
“The [Level 2] travel advisory clearly emphasizes there is no restriction to travel to Los Cabos,” said Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board. “We see the new travel advisory system as a simple and clear process, since there is a number to assess. In the previous system there was an area for interpretation. We believe Los Cabos is a safe and secure destination.
“In 2017 we were working hard to ensure safety of tourists,” he added.
[Related: State Department Revises Travel Advisory System]
Los Cabos last year implemented a five-step action plan in response to travel advisories.
“We wanted to address any [safety and/or security] issues the destination had and continue to make improvements,” Esponda said of the five-step action plan, which is still being expanded on in 2018.
As a joint public and private sector effort, Los Cabos’ five-point security action plan includes the following:
- Creating a “Rapid Response Network”: Los Cabos is developing real-time and ongoing communications between local hoteliers and businesses to share information on suspicious activity or reported incidents, as well as to alert the appropriate authorities and law enforcement.
- Accelerating a security surveillance system expansion: The destination is extending its surveillance camera network with the goal of installing more than 200 new cameras, especially in high-traffic tourist areas, bringing the total to 250 from the current 40 in place.
- Building a new Marine base: The new base will significantly increase the presence of the Mexican Marine Corps to manage the expanded surveillance system and amplify law enforcement activity. The base will open in Q2 2018.
- Organizing a hotel security committee: Working with the Hotels Association, the new committee meets biweekly to address any concerns, share best practices and update security protocols.
- Setting new training and security protocols: Local hoteliers and business are implementing new security training programs and protocols aligned with OSAC (Overseas Security Advisory Council) standards to improve preparedness.
This year alone, the public and private sectors have invested more than $47 million to increase security personnel, equipment and infrastructure, according to the Los Cabos Tourism Board. At a local level, the municipality has invested $13.1 million, the state government has invested $26.4 million, and the private sector has invested more than $7 million.
So far the destination has not seen a decrease in visitors. According to the Los Cabos Tourism Board, 2017 was the destination’s strongest year yet since 2010, with a 16 percent growth in tourism arrivals.
Los Cabos welcomed over 2 million travelers from all over the world in 2017 and added 550 new rooms to its hotel inventory representing a 7 percent gain. Hotel occupancy was up by more than 18 percent.
Esponda noted that incidents of violence, theft and other crimes reported in Los Cabos were minimal when compared to other locations in Mexico and the incidents were isolated, not targeting tourists.
“We want to keep the conversation with U.S. authorities open,” Esponda said.