Op-Ed: Why are tourists still flocking to Mexico?
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By Arthur Weinreb (external - login to view) Jan 24, 2012 - yesterday in Travel (external - login to view)
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Sheila Nabb, who was found badly beaten in an elevator in a five star hotel, is just the latest Canadian to become a victim of violent crime while staying in a luxurious Mexican resort.
Sheila and Andrew Nabb left winter in Calgary behind and flew south last Thursday. Early Friday morning, Sheila, bloodied and badly beaten, was found in an elevator of the Hotel Rui Emerald Bay in Mazatlan. The 37-year-old health care manager is now in a medically induced coma at a Mazatlan hospital. Her uncle, Robert Prosser, was quoted in the Vancouver Sun (external - login to view) as saying,
It could be a month before she is fit to return to Calgary for further treatment. They're going to have to wire her jaw shut, put plates in where her cheeks were and lots of reconstructive surgery.According to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, 112 Canadians lost their lives in Mexico through accidents, murders, or suicides during the last five years. There is no doubt Mexico is an extremely violent country. It is one thing if a Canadian travels to or lives in an area where drug cartels battle for control and murders are an everyday occurrence. It is quite another when tourists like Nabb become victims of violent crime within the confines of luxury resorts. On the morning of Nov. 14, 2010, a blast ripped through the Grand Riviera Princess Hotel in Playa del Carmen. Five Canadian tourists and two Mexican employees were killed. After the explosion, various theories were put forward as to the cause of the blast. After an investigation, it was determined that a gas pipeline had been extended to underneath the area of the hotel's lounge. The extension was not only unauthorized but illegal. A Canadian who had left the hotel before the explosion told CBC Radio that he "smelled some sort of gas the whole time he was there." If anything should have made Canadians think twice about visiting Mexico, it was the murders of Dominic and Nancy Ianiero. The Woodbridge, Ontario couple were in Mexico with several family members to attend the wedding of their daughter. They were staying at the Barcelo Maya Beach Resort, a five star hotel near Cancun. On Feb. 20, 2006, their bodies were discovered in their hotel room. Their throats had been slashed. But the Mexican authorities acted quickly and came up with suspects. Later on the day the bodies were discovered, police announced they were looking for two Canadian women. Blood of the victims was supposedly found in their room which was possible as the women walked passed the Ianieros' room when there had been blood in the hallway. And, they had "fled the country" the day after the murders. Actually their vacation was over and they returned home on their scheduled flight. Mexican authorities asked the Canadian police to investigate and they did, although no one in Canada seriously believed they had anything to do with the murders. The Canadian media even jokingly dubbed the two from Thunder Bay, Ontario, "the killer moms." Yet the two women went through hell, having to hire a lawyer while police at least superficially investigated them. They were eventually cleared but not before then Mexican president Vincente Fox got in on the act and said they were the killers. Although other suspects have been named, there have been no arrests and the murders remain unsolved. Despite what seems like a rash of violent crimes, not just in Mexico but in five star hotels where tourists expect to be safe, Canadians still go to the country in droves. In 2010, 1.6 million Canadians visited Mexico; double the number that went five years ago, a year before the Ianieros went to attend a wedding and ended up being brutally murdered. Yes, Canadian winters are harsh and Mexico is relatively cheap. But there are other southern destinations that appear to provide protection to tourists, at least when they are in their five star hotels. How many people will have to end up like Nabb or the Ianieros before Canadians decide that a Mexican vacation is too risky? If enough tourists stayed away, perhaps Mexico would be forced to better protect the country's tourists.
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My wife and I have been to Mexico three times. We won't go again. We'll try to pick a destination where
the local authorities have some idea what is going on. We were hassled in Tollume because we didn't hire
a guide......The place is not that big. You can walk around it in fifteen minutes and we bought a brochure
that showed everything. Some people we met on the airplane had to waste two days while incompetent police
investigated an accident. They were rear-ended while stopped. The "police" finally agreed to settle the matter
all around for a hundred dollars. We'll try Belize next.