Is it safe for Americans to vacation to Cancun? What travelers should know

In the wake of the shocking Cancun shooting, some Americans may be wondering if it’s safe to visit the area.

The State Department has issued a Level 3 travel advisory for Mexico, which means people should “reconsider travel” to the country. The advisory was first put in place in July because of COVID-19, according to the department website.

The current advisory includes warnings about an increased risk of crime, including kidnappings, in parts of Mexico, including resort areas. 


Specifically, the State Department encourages travelers to “exercise increased caution,” which is a Level 2 advisory, when visiting the Mexican state of Quintana Roo – where Cancun is located – due to a rise in crime. 

Mexico was marked with a Level 3 Travel Advisory by the US Department of State because of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year. (iStock)

Mexico was marked with a Level 3 Travel Advisory by the US Department of State because of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year. (iStock)

On Thursday, two suspected drug dealers were killed in a shooting that broke out in the beach area of Hotel Ziva Riviera Cancun in Puerto Morelos, Fox News previously reported.

The U.S. embassy to Mexico released a statement after the shooting, saying that Mexican authorities were responding to the situation. 


“We advise U.S. citizens in the area to contact concerned family and/or friends to let them know they are safe,” the embassy said. “Affected U.S. citizens should follow the instructions of local authorities and call 911 if they have an emergency situation.”

The embassy also listed actions that Americans can take while visiting the area, including monitoring local news, following the directions of local officials and avoiding crowds. 

The embassy also said American tourists should “be aware of your surroundings” and “review your personal security plans.”


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also issued a warning to travelers about visiting Mexico because of the pandemic. 

The Department of State also includes warnings about an increased risk of crime and kidnappings in Mexico. (iStock)

The Department of State also includes warnings about an increased risk of crime and kidnappings in Mexico. (iStock)

According to the CDC website, Mexico has a high level of COVID-19 cases. The agency recommends that people make sure they are fully vaccinated before traveling to the country.


According to data from Statista, 21.73 million Americans traveled to Mexico in 2020 amid the pandemic, compared to 39.94 million in 2019. 

Cancun saw a drop in visits from international travelers last year. In 2020, the city reported 2.3 million tourists, down from 6 million in 2019. 

U.S. News and World Report found that the best times to visit Cancun are between December and April to avoid autumn storms and “sweltering” summers.


According to crowd-sourced database Numbeo, Cancun has experienced a significant increase in crime over the last three years. The city is considered safe for walking alone during the day with risks becoming “moderate” at night.

Meanwhile, about 2 hours and 40 minutes away, is another popular tourist destination in Mexico: Cozumel. According to Numbeo, Cozumel has a low level of crime, though it has also seen crime increasing at a high rate over the last three years.

However, the Department of State advises visitors to Mexico’s Quintana Roo state -- where Cancun is located -- to "exercise increased caution," which is a Level 2 advisory. (iStock)

However, the Department of State advises visitors to Mexico’s Quintana Roo state — where Cancun is located — to “exercise increased caution,” which is a Level 2 advisory. (iStock)

In summary, the State Department’s says “violent crime – such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery – is widespread and common” in Mexico currently.

The two Mexican states where visitors can “exercise normal precautions” are Campeche and Yucatan, the department said.

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Two killed at resort near Cancun in shooting, police say

Two men died on Thursday near the Mexican city of Cancun in a shooting outside of a luxury resort.  

The incident took place outside the Hyatt Ziva Riviera Cancun resort in Puerto Morelos, south of the popular “hotel zone” of Cancun, according to multiple reports.  

The attorney general’s office in the state of Quintana Roo confirmed on Twitter that the confrontation was between alleged groups of drug dealers in Puerto Morelos. Two of the men died at the scene of the shooting, and there were no other serious injuries.  

Police warned earlier that a group of men carrying long guns were seen in the area of the nearby Azul Beach hotel, according to multiple reports.  

The shooting quickly caused chaos for tourists in the area. One man, Mike Sington, shared videos of hotel staff and tourists gathered inside the resort. 

►Travel bloggerone of two killed in drug-gang shootout in Mexican Caribbean resort town Tulum

►From vaccines to testing: What travelers need to know before the new US travel system on Nov. 8

Sington shared that people were “hugging each other and crying” during the incident.  

“As soon as the situation occurred, the hotel team immediately engaged local authorities who thoroughly investigated the situation,” a Hyatt spokesperson said in a statement to USA TODAY, adding that “The hotel team took steps in an effort to ensure the safety of guests and colleagues.” 

Two foreign tourists were killed in crossfire of a drug-gang shootout last month in Mexico’s Tulum. One of the women was born in India but lived in the United States, while the other was from Germany. Multiple people were injured in the shooting. 

Contributing: Associated Press

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TravelPulse Podcast: On location in Cancun for WTTC 2021 Global Summit

On a special Monday edition of the podcast, host Eric Bowman is live in Cancun, Mexico at Moon Palace Resort for the 2021 World Travel & Tourism Council’s Global Summit.

Mark Chesnut, travel writer and owner of, joins Bowman this week and the two discuss the latest trending topics in the world of travel, including some great news for travel to Europe as well as the latest big news in the cruise industry.

After that, Bowman and Chesnut share their experiences so far at the WTTC Global Summit, the first in-person global travel event since the pandemic.

Be sure to subscribe to the TravelPulse Podcast at Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, TuneIn, Spotify and Stitcher.

Have any feedback or questions? Be sure to contact us at [email protected].

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Cruz pounded by Democrats over Cancun excursion

Democrats believe Sen. Ted Cruz’s trip to Cancun as his state faces an energy crisis has provided them a political cudgel they can use to whack him, with some even demanding his resignation. 

Meanwhile, some Republicans complain the Cruz trip scored more attention than the cover-up of nursing home deaths under New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa issued a statement calling on the senator to step down.

“Ted Cruz jetting off to Mexico while Texans remain dying in the cold isn’t surprising but it is deeply disturbing and disappointing,” he said. “Now, he is proving to be an enemy to our state by abandoning us in our greatest time of need. For the 21st time, the Texas Democratic Party calls on Ted Cruz to resign or be expelled from office.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki, asked to weigh in on the controversy, did not directly comment but added a seeming dig at Cruz. 

“I don’t have any updates on the exact location of Sen. Ted Cruz,” Psaki said. “Our focus is on working directly with leadership in Texas and surrounding states on addressing the winter storm and the crisis at hand. Many people across the state are without power, without the resources they need. We expect that would be the focus of anyone in the state or in surrounding states who is elected to represent them.”


Cruz was spotted boarding a plane to Mexico with his family Wednesday night, escaping Texas’ rare below-freezing temperatures and widespread power outages.

Millions were left without power, some for days, as the grid was overwhelmed by an unprecedented demand for energy during a massive winter storm in Texas. As of Thursday morning, 500,000 were still without power. 

The Texas Republican was scheduled to return to the Lone Star State Thursday afternoon after critics slammed him for leaving the state Wednesday night during the energy crisis. Cruz released a statement Thursday detailing his plans to return. 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said that if Cruz resigned after the Capitol riot as she had demanded, he “could’ve taken his vacation in peace.” 

“If Sen. Cruz had resigned back in January after helping gin up a violent insurrection that killed several people, he could’ve taken his vacation in peace,” she said. “Texans should continue to demand his resignation.”


Fellow Squad member Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., compared her work after the George Floyd unrest in Minnesota to Cruz’s trip. 

“After the George Floyd uprisings in Minneapolis, when thousands were struggling to find food, my office and I held food drives and donated more than 20 tons of food to the community,” she wrote on Twitter. “Meanwhile, as millions of Texans lack power, heat, and food, @tedcruz heads off to Cancun. Hm.”

Donald Trump Jr. contrasted coverage of Cruz’s trip with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s nursing home scandal. Trump Jr. tweeted: “How is it possible that blue check Twitter is spending more time trying to destroy Ted Cruz taking a family trip but refuses to focus on Gov Cuomo’s lies, coverups, and strong arm tactics that killed thousands?”

“This Atlantic reporter @IsaacDovere has tweeted 13 times about Ted Cruz and yet I haven’t seen a single tweet from him on Andrew Cuomo’s scandal in the last 5 days,” former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell wrote on Twitter. “How does @TheAtlantic allow this bias?!”

Jaime Harrison, Democratic National Committee chair, urged Texans to vote Cruz out in the next election. “#ProfileInLeadership #CancunCruz Texas, you deserve so much better! Upgrade your representation starting in ‘22!”

Former 2020 presidential candidate Julian Castro said Cruz should be spending his time working with federal agencies. “In crises like these, members of Congress play a critical role connecting their constituents to emergency services and assistance,” he wrote on Twitter. “@tedcruz should be on the phone with federal agencies, not on a trip to Mexico.”

Cruz claimed that throughout the trip he had been in “constant communication” with his team to get to the bottom of the power shortage. 

“My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas. We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm. My team and I will continue using all our resources to keep Texans informed and safe,” he said in a statement. 


“With school canceled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends,” he explained. “Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon.

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Sen. Ted Cruz comes under fire after photos show him traveling to Cancún as Texans freeze

WASHINGTON — Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is facing backlash after photos went viral that showed him and his family traveling to Cancún, Mexico, as his state’s residents suffer without heat, water and power because of the state’s historic winter storm.

The images, which began circulating on social media Wednesday night, showed Cruz with his family waiting at an airport gate with luggage and boarding a plane. NBC News verified several of the photos of the senator traveling to Mexico.

After Cruz’s Senate office did not respond to NBC News’ repeated requests for comment on Thursday, Cruz released a statement explaining his decision to leave the state and said he was returning home Thursday afternoon. He said it has be an “infuriating week for Texans” and his family had “lost heat and power too.”

“With school cancelled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends,” Cruz said. “Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon. My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas.

“We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm. My team and I will continue using all our resources to keep Texans informed and safe,” he added.

Cruz did not apologize or address Texans’ outrage over his trip.

Before Cruz released his statement, the Houston Police Department confirmed to NBC that the GOP senator’s staff contacted them on Wednesday afternoon to assist him in his arrival and movements through Houston’s international airport.

“They reached out to us, let us know that he was going to be arriving and could we assist, so upon his arrival to the Houston airport we monitored his movements,” a police department spokesperson told NBC.

The news of Cruz’s trip — which drew outrage from Democrats — comes as millions of people across Texas have been struggling without power and heat and suffered water system disruptions for several days amid record-low temperatures.

The state Democratic Party has called on Cruz to resign from Congress because of the situation, tweeting, “Texans are dying and you’re on a flight to Cancun. #TedCruzRESIGN.”

State Rep. Gene Wu tweeted late Wednesday, “Guess which US Senator from Texas flew to Cancun while the state was freezing to death and having to boil water?” and showed an image of Cruz walking down the aisle of a plane he was boarding.

Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., tweeted Thursday, “It must be easy not to believe in climate change if you can just leave millions of Texans suffering without power or water to sit on a beach in Cancún.”

Robert Mann, who served as communications director to Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco during Hurricane Katrina, told NBC News he can’t think of anyone as prominent as Cruz who left his own state after a disaster struck.

“This is usually the time that elected officials want to show their constituents how much they are committed to helping them,” said Mann, now a journalism professor at Louisiana State University. “It defies all common and political sense to leave the state for anywhere at a time like this, much less take a vacation to a toasty warm spot like Cancún. It’s among the dumbest, most callous things I’ve ever seen a politician do.”

The last thing tweeted from Cruz’s Senate account was about how he and eight other GOP lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee were calling for an investigation into New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the reporting on nursing home deaths due to Covid-19.

Cruz tweeted a video clip of a CNN segment in early December about how Democratic officials were caught not following their own guidelines when it came to Covid-19. Cruz called them, “Hypocrites. Complete and utter hypocrites.”

He said in his tweet not to forget that Austin Mayor Steve Adler “who took a private jet with eight people to Cabo and WHILE IN CABO recorded a video telling Austinites to ‘stay home if you can … this is not the time to relax.'”

Vaughn Hillyard, Julie Tsirkin, Caroline Radnofsky, Sara Mhaidli and Matthew Mulligan contributed.

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