Arizonans appear to be helping Mexican tourism make a comeback.
After tourism plunged in 2009, American traveler rates to Mexico have been steadily climbing each year. But local travel agencies are noticing a significant increase recently in the number of people traveling south of the border.
"We have a lot more requests from people interested in going to Mexico," Paul Seifert, owner of Terra Travel in Mesa and Phoenix, says. "Is [the Mexican tourism industry] better than it was? No, but there's less resistance than there was two years ago."
George Loftin of Carefree Travel Agency in Scottsdale has also seen more interest in Mexican tourism.
"It's absolutely going up," Loftin says. "I think people have decided that Mexico seemed to have calmed down a bit, that there's not as much trouble."
Millions of people travel to Mexico every year, and most are able to sip margaritas on the beach without so much as batting an eye. But the U.S. Department of State continues to issue warnings, most recently in January, about the dangers of traveling in crime-ridden areas. Although no advisory warning are issued for many popular tourist spots like Cancun and Playa del Carmen, the Department continues to issue warnings throughout Sonora, including Puerto Peñasco (also known as Rocky Point).
The report cites a December 2013 gun fight in Puerto Peñasco between Mexican authorities and a crime organization, and advises travelers to stay on the main roads and refrain from driving at night.
"U.S. citizens visiting Puerto Peñasco should remain vigilant, and exercise caution," the report says.
But as fewer crime stories appear on the news, Arizonans may be feeling more and more comfortable traveling to Mexico.
"Two years ago, somebody would walk in and ask us where we recommended they go. And if we said Mexico, they'd say, 'Oh, not Mexico.' We don't see that as much anymore," Seifert said.
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