From the sandy beaches of the world-famous Riviera Maya to its picturesque Pacific Coast, Mexico has been grappling with an increase in violence lately. Although Cancun suffered the brunt of it, and in the midst of a long-awaited tourist season, it is now Puerto Vallarta that has woken up to the news the U.S. has issued a security alert for the city.
Much like its rivals on the Caribbean coast, Puerto Vallarta is a massively popular destination among Americans. A well-developed city with an unparalleled cultural offer, it famously features some of Mexico’s most famous beaches, including Playa de Los Muertos, plus numerous resorts and tourist complexes that rarely see the odd quiet month.
While Puerto Vallarta had managed, so far, to dodge the level of scrutiny Cancun has been under, this may not be the case anymore as more incidents make the headlines:
Confrontation Between Police And Local Gangs Increases In Puerto Vallarta
Following a recent shooting near the Marina Vallarta resort stretch, resulting from a clash between local police and criminal groups, as well as reports of abduction, the U.S. Mission to Mexico was quick to assert safety levels in the region were compromised, mainly as a result of the ‘increased presence of Mexican security forces‘.
While it is easy to think increased security would, in fact, mean the opposite, the U.S. mentions ‘the potential for confrontations between criminal groups and security forces in the Puerto Vallarta area and in the Guadalajara metropolitan area’. Although criminals rarely target tourists, they could still be in danger of getting caught in the crossfire.
As authorities warn, shootings can occur in public places and bystanders risk being injured even when not directly engaged in the conflict. Despite reminding Americans of this gloomy prospect, the U.S. does not mention any particular event as the reason behind the alert, which also encompasses other tourist hotspots in the states of Jalisco and Nayarit.
When vacationing in Puerto Vallarta, Americans are advised to:
- Follow local news for security updates
- Be aware of their surroundings
- Review personal security plans
- Call 911 during an emergency
They should also ‘reconsider travel’ to the whole state of Jalisco due to ‘crime and kidnapping’. Sadly, Jalisco is not the only destination Americans are now discouraged to visit: Baja California, Chihuahua, Guanajuato, the State of Mexico, which comprises Mexico City, Morelos, and Zacatecas are among other regions listed.
How Actually Dangerous Is Puerto Vallarta Right Now?
Even though crime has increased, it is far from being rampant and U.S. authorities seem aware of that. Unlike the states of Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas, Jalisco has not been placed under a ‘no-travel list’, and there seems to be only a moderate to low exposure to violence in the area.
In our article challenging misconceptions about safety concerns in Cancun, we have discoursed extensively on how crime levels are poised to be higher than average in nearly every big North American city – including New York and Los Angeles. That is not to say security alerts should be ignored, especially when issued by security experts.
Nevertheless, visitors should bear in mind Mexico has mobilized a whole battalion to protect tourists from any such incidents in tourist zones. Exercising caution and having contingency plans in place may be advised, both on trips to Mexico and any vacation abroad, but in reality, the vast majority of visits to the country are trouble-free.
Simultaneously, we also cannot overlook the fact that Puerto Vallarta has seen a 200% increase in travel scams, or that power struggles could become more common as more cartels battle for dominance over the Vallarta region. Even then, scams can easily be avoided by following this guidance, while shootings seldom affect vacationers.
If you are headed to Puerto Vallarta soon, make sure you follow all the following recommendation in order to ensure a smoother trip:
- Apply for a passport in advance as there have been long wait times
- Only book travel packages in Mexico through licensed providers
- Pre-book your airport transfer to avoid taxi scams
- Stick to popular tourist areas
- Exercise caution walking after dark, especially in distant neighborhoods
- Do not display any valuables unnecessarily outside tourist complexes
- Purchase travel insurance for increased health and safety guarantees
For more information on travel to Mexico, including all the latest security warnings and Covid updates, make sure you visit our dedicated page.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories