What Metro Vancouverites know about travel insurance for any trip to Mexico.
It’s Canada’s second most visited travel destination outside the United States — but many travelers are worried about booking tickets to Mexico in light of the recent surge in violence.
The violence began on January 5 after security forces arrested alleged drug trafficker Ovidio “The Mouse” Guzman, who is the son of former cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
Gunfire hit at least two passenger planes, prompting officials to close three of the airports in Sinaloa state, including Mazatlán International Airport (MZT).
Although there were a few cancellations at Vancouver International Airport (YVR), MZT opened the next day and Canadians began flying back to the popular resort town.
Mexico’s travel advisory remains in effect for Sinaloa but some travelers and industry experts are confused by the advisory’s messages.
Is it safe to travel to Mexico right now?
While many cities across Mexico are mostly safe to travel to, Canada has warned travelers of increased levels of violence for months, urging tourists to be vigilant.
In August 2022, the US government warned that violent crime, including murder, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, was widespread and common in the country.
But Canada’s latest Mexico update instructed travelers to avoid all non-essential travel to Sinaloa because of the widespread violence. The council is still in place, but above the new section, Mazatlán, located in Sinaloa, is not on the “regional consultations” web page.
In fact, until Thursday, January 12, the advisor said to avoid travel to Mazatlan in the “safety and security” section and exclude it under “regional advisories.”
Will McAleer, Executive Director at the Canadian Travel Health Insurance Association (THIA), told VIA that this is the first time he has ever seen confusing messages from the government, especially when it comes to such an important directive.
The advisory was updated on Friday and no longer mentions specific cities in the “safety and security” section but warns of widespread violence in Sinaloa state. The “regional advisories” remain unchanged, urging people to avoid all non-essential travel to Sinaloa, excluding Mazatlán.
When asked how concerned Canadians should be about traveling to Mazatlan, particularly Sinaloa, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada told VIA that it monitors safety and security conditions and updates its travel advice to prompt He did not comment on the current situation but advised Canadians to consult the latest travel advisory for Mexico.
What is happening in Mexico in 2023
Despite the recent violence and confusing messages, many travel agents say locals are not deterred from visiting Mexico. In addition, many of them have already flown down to Mazatlan.
— Linda Berti 🇨🇦 (@YourCarGirl_) January 10, 2023
Canadian Aviation Center spokeswoman Allison Wallace says that while Mexico is popular with Canadian travelers, fewer people travel to Mazatlán than popular destinations like Cancún, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas.
Although the company located two clients in Mazatlan when it recently erupted, thousands of its customers were in Mexico at that time. Mazatlán “isn’t as big a destination as it used to be,” Wallace explained.
Travelers should always check the latest government advice before booking a ticket and before leaving, and should understand the difference between a warning and an advisory, Wallace noted.
While there are always risks whenever you travel, many places in Mexico are “still pretty safe” for tourists, she said. That said, travelers should always purchase a comprehensive insurance plan before they leave.
McAleer emphasizes this message, noting that travelers who do not book insurance before departure may not get their money back for a trip canceled due to an advisory.
Canadian travel advisories with a “level three” or “level four” warning may be claimed under a trip cancellation and disruption plan. However, travelers cannot claim insurance if they have booked their flights or accommodation after the advice has been issued.
Canadians should always register trips they take online before they leave so the government can contact them in an emergency.
Canadians in need of emergency consular assistance should contact Global Affairs Canada’s Emergency Watch and Response Center by calling 001-800-514-0129 (toll-free from Mexico only), +1 613 996 8885 , via text message at +1 613-686 -3658, via WhatsApp at +1 613-909-8881, via Telegram at Emergency Canada Abroad or via email.
With files from the Canadian Press.