Baja California Sur safe or not?

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Baja California Sur Safe or not??

What we all should know is that the escalating drug war and gory media reports
of violence in Mexico is hurting the overall country and is keeping the tourist
at bay. The over zealous U.S. State Department’s travel advisory of
Mexico is not helping matters, but more to the point, killing some of the
most rewarding destinations areas that are clearly not even named in the
government travel advisories. For example, Baja California beach resorts
such as Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo, or the colonial hill town Todos
Santos are all being affected. Todos Santos is a small town tucked among
rolling hills with nearby surfing beaches. The town is
a haven for expat artists that have flocked there for years not to
mention the location of the very famous Hotel California owned by
American Debbie Stewart.
The main issue is people are lumping all of Mexico; a country
the size of Western Europe, as one in the same for safety.
The citing of a border incident involving the death
of a Colorado tourist back in 2010 prompted the Texas Department of Homeland
Security to issue this travel warning for all of Mexico. So I ask you, would
you put off a trip to Southern California because of the gang wars in Los
Angeles that are constantly causing death and mayhem in the city's
neighborhoods and outlying suburbs? What about visiting Florida or
Louisiana where the death rates are some of the highest in the United
States, mostly due to local drug gangs? Millions of people vacation in
these states regularly, they don't think twice about going, and they return
What about the murders of British tourists James Kouzaris and James
Cooper, who were shot dead in Florida last year. Should other countries mark
the US as a unsafe country? Should we have travel advisories applied to
Florida or even the whole of the USA? I think we all know the answer. NO
The fact of the matter is that most of central and southern Baja Mexico sees
less violence than many U.S. cities, and local residents including expats
remain miffed at the public’s fear of their quiet communities. Offering up
some of the best jungles, deserts, beaches, coral reefs, pre-European
cultures and some of the world’s most satisfying cuisines, not to mention
proximity and value, Mexico remains a great travel destination with a very
bad PR problem.
Baja California Sur is a diverse mix of artsy, urban and rugged cities with
an abundant of outdoor and adventure activities such as surfing, scuba diving,
and world class fishing with homicide rates comparable to that of Vermont.
With all the negative media attention on Mexico, I personally wanted to
check out the local seen and judge for myself if all the hype regarding drug
related violence was true. My first stop was San Jose del Cabo where I contacted Pat
and Bob Lillo from Cabo Vacation Getaways. They are an american couple who own two
rental properties located at the 5-star Beachfront Resort Coral Baja in
San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. My goal was to be a regular tourist who would have
regular tourist concerns . I asked Pat what I thought would be the standard
questions in light of the travel warning and the issues associated with
them. My main question was- Is San Jose del Cabo safe? Her quick answer to the
question was definitely yes. San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas may be the
two safest cities in all of México. A large number of people think that the
cities of Baja California Sur are safer than most cities in the United
States. Pat goes on to say "Of course there is crime here, it's everywhere
in the world, but most local crime is minor." As anywhere, there
are places that should be avoided and there are places that can be
considered to be much safer than others. San Jose Del Cabo is an amazing
little town and without a doubt considered a safe travel destination.
After spending a week there I would 100% agree. I never once felt unsafe
walking on the beach at night, visiting the local shops
away from the regular tourist hot spots, or even eating in the most local
restaurants with no chance of running across a fellow gringo. All things I
would never do in east LA. During my month long stay in Baja my only fear
was how can the local people who depended on tourist survive such a loss.
The beaches are not jammed. Hotel occupancy is as low as 50%… the Baja
Hotel Association reports. That’s not impressive for a popular resort area
where a 80%-plus occupancy is the norm. I interviewed both tourists, Mexican
travel operators, and official tourism industry sources, which revealed a
sobering picture of a beach town that relies sorely on its tourism industry.
Tourism officials along with locals are quick to point out that Cabo along
with neighboring tourist destinations sit far away from the drug related
violence that plagues Mexico’s border towns and that “the safest people
here are the tourists.” Still, lower than usual tourist numbers persist
causing problems for local economy. Reports of tourist casualties are quick
to be picked up by the media, but numbers rarely tell the full story.
Although 18 Americans died in Cancun, Cozumel, and Mayan Riviera in the
first six months 2010, most of them drowned. According to the Baja
Convention & Visitors Bureau, not one tourist has been killed by
cartel-related violence.
As for the tourist, they’re playing it safe, having a good time, and
reporting back with positive feedback about their Baja experiences.
Interviewing one Surfer and his family who spent a week camping at a
popular surf spot Nine Palms, “We never put ourselves in a position to be in
harm ways . My family and I decided that Baja Calfornia Sur is only as
unsafe as you make it. We would definitely, 100%, go back."
So lets look at a more accurate assessment of Mexico than many of the
sensationalistic and non-contextualized news reports Starting with the
catalyst of an international indicator for measuring violence in a country –
the number of violent deaths per 100,000 people – by comparing figures of
Mexican violence with those of other Latin American countries and U.S.
The results found Mexican has lower numbers of violent deaths than popular
Latin American destinations like Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela. Even In
comparing Mexico City to other U.S. cities, Mexico City came out on top in
terms of safety. With 9.8 violent deaths per 100,000 people, Mexico City
had fewer deaths than U.S. cities like Houston (12.5), Phoenix (12 of
Mexico’s violence in context, but also paint a picture of what is true in
many countries. Some parts of countries can be more dangerous than others,
and should well be avoided. Mexico as a whole is not plagued by violence,
but travelers should be aware of dangerous cities to avoid. Just as people
in the U.S. might encourage travelers to take advantage of Chicago, while
avoiding Detroit – people in Mexico would encourage tourists to experience
Baja California while steering clear of Boarder towns. So what are my over
all findings? That over sensationalistic news reports that don’t provide the
whole picture unfairly are hurting the cities and communities of Mexico
that are safe, and driving away much needed tourism. Warning people to avoid
Mexico is largely unfounded and misleading, as well as a bit fear-mongering.
There is an actual statement by Texas DPS Director Steven C. McCraw saying,
“Avoid traveling to Mexico during Spring Break and stay alive.”
Acknowledging official statements like that carries weight for both business
and leisure travelers, I personally was traveling in Mexico a week later
and found the statement issued extremely irresponsible. With my own trip
stretching from Cabo San lucas to Todos Santos along with the remote beach area
of Nine Palms, I encountered zero problems. In fact, the travelers I interviewed
in Mexico were not worried about safety issues. Most where streetwise
travelers who tend to exercise more common sense regarding travel
conditions no matter where they travel to.
I found people wanted to speak out and share their positive Mexico
experiences. So here are the facts and how I see them. Violent crime in Cabo
San Lucas and its neighboring cities is low, WiFi can be found in public
parks and families gather in the streets for cultural events. I enjoyed
just going out to dinner and running in to american rock star and part time
resident Peter Buck of REM. No big deal just another person wanting to spend
time at local mexican hangout and eat a good meal.
“I spent a month wandering amazingly clean, civilized streets, often by
myself, and I’ve never felt safer or met nicer people. This is the Mexico
rich in social tradition and culture that we as tourists should value and not
be blinded by the Mexico we see in the media. Even if the barrage of
headlines makes it sound as if the entire country were in flames, the
violence that feeds Mexico’s death toll takes place primarily in just nine
of 31 states — mainly along the U.S. border where the smuggling takes place.
Local officials in Baja Sur have gone way out of there way and done a lot
recently to make sure that this area stays safe and that you feel better
about your visit. In Cabo San Lucas there is a dedicated tourist police
force and a special branch office of the Ministerio Publico, which is pretty
much the same as a District Attorney in the U.S. The office actually has
the word "Turismo" etched on the glass front door (remember where you are).
This office serves San Jose del Cabo, and the East Cape, as well as Cabo San
Lucas.You will not find this type of dedication to the safety of tourists
anywhere else in México. These measures speak loudly about how important the
local government feels about protecting their tourists. The city, state and
even the federal governments are ready to expand on programs that are
already in place to make sure Cabo San Lucas, and all of Los Cabos, stays
safe. This, of course, includes the safety of their visitors.
“ So unless you plan to join the cartel or become a high ranking member of
the Mexican military or police force between now and your vacation you can
go to Mexico and be safe just as you can go to Texas, New Orleans,
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