The updated travel advisory issued by the U.S. State Department states "no restrictions" for travel to Baja California tourist regions, including the Guadalupe Valley. (Misael Virgen / UT San Diego/Zuma Press)
Under a new travel advisory system announced this past Wednesday, the U.S. State Department issued its highest-level warning for five Mexican states—Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas—recommending that U.S. travelers refrain from visiting these regions due to security conditions.
The advisory lists a “level 2” warning for Baja California and Baja California Sur, recommending that travelers “exercise increased caution due to crime” when visiting these states. The warning is the second-lowest of a new four-level ranking system now being used to evaluate security conditions for U.S. travelers to countries worldwide. It ranges from the lowest level—“exercise normal precautions”—to the strictest, “do not travel.”
For Baja California, the statement says that “criminal activity and violence, including homicide, remain an issue throughout the state” and that homicides had increased over 2016. It states that while “most of these homicides appeared to be targeted, criminal organization assassinations, turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens.”
The advisory adds that “there are no U.S. government restrictions in tourist areas in Baja California.” It names Tijuana, Rosarito Beach and Ensenada, which includes the Valle de Guadalupe area of wineries and restaurants.
There equally are no restrictions for travel to the Baja California Sur tourist areas of Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo, and La Paz.
The aim of the new system is to make information more understandable and more accessible. It does away with the Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, as well as emergency and security messages issued under the old Consular Information Program.
The Mexico travel advisory evaluates conditions in the country state-by-state. Tamaulipas, across from Texas, is the only northern border state where travel is not recommended. “Armed criminal groups target public and private passenger buses traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers hostage and demanding ransom payments,” the advisory states.
For four other northern border states, Sonora, Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon and Coahuila, the advisory cites a “level 3” risk, recommending that visitors “reconsider travel.”
The U.S. travel warnings, updated periodically, have in the past generated protests in Mexico, especially in the tourism sectors.