The US State Department has released a new set of restrictions on travellers heading to Mexico, with five states now ranked at highest possible risk.
The revamped restrictions see Tamaulipas on the U.S. border and Sinaloa, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero on the Pacific coast all placed under the “do not travel” banner, a phrase usually associated with war-torn countries like Yemen and Somalia.
The states are breeding grounds for drug warfare and gang violence and are home to highly travelled trafficking routes as well as drug-crop cultivation
They have been graded as “level 4” for tourists, the highest level of potential danger.
The restrictions follow an increase in violence in the area, with acts of homicide, kidnapping, carjacking and robbery regular occurrences in the five states.
Mexico as a whole is graded “level 2” and the State Department urges tourists to “exercise caution” while travelling around the country.
According to statistics, 2017 was one of the most bloody years on record for Mexico, with the state of Jalisco estimated to have 83.3 killings per 100,000 residents, taking the title of the country’s highest homicide rate.
USA Today has revealed that 22,409 lives were lost to violence in Mexico in 2017 alone, the highest toll since statistics began in being released in 1997.
In November of last year, Enrique de la Madrid, Mexico’s Minister of Tourism, broached the subject of violence delicately as to not dissuade tourists from travelling to the country.
“I’m very respectful of what the State Department has to do … what I’m saying is those numbers aren’t necessarily to be considered for tourism purposes because they’re describing (a different) situation,” he told The Dallas Morning News.
“We just want to send a signal, which is true, that our destinations are a safe place to visit.”
As per USA Today, recent spikes in violence have taken a toll on Mexican tourism, currently a $20 billion industry which accounts for roughly 7% of the country’s GDP.