State Department slaps 5 Mexican states with 'do not travel' advisory

El Arco in Cabo San Lucas

Meanwhile in Guerrero, 11 people were shot dead last week in a police shootout, the Associated Press reported.

The advisory, issued Thursday, puts the states of Tamaulipas on the USA border and Sinaloa, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero on the Pacific coast on the same level as war-torn countries like Syria, Yemen and Somalia.

Resort areas and tourist destinations are said to be generally safer, though the State Department notes that there are exceptions.

The US Department of State on Wednesday, 10 January, issued "do not travel" advisories for five Mexican states, warning its citizens to completely avoid these regions.

The State Department has a four tier warning system for its travel advisories with 1 being to take normal precautions and 4 being a a "Do Not Travel" advisory.

Reuters report indicates that at least a dozen politicians, officials and candidates for elected office have been killed in states in recent months, where there are struggles between criminal groups for the control of drug trafficking routes.

Clashes between rival drug gangs contributed to a record number of murders in Mexico past year, according to official data, dealing a fresh blow to President Enrique Pena Nieto's pledge to bring gang violence under control with presidential elections due in July 2018, the report said.

The Department of State issued Wednesday its semi-annual travel warning for Mexico, putting five of the country's states in the same threat category as war-torn Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan. Mexico has 31 states, half of which are under level 3 or 4 warnings.

Ashley Garrigus, spokesperson for the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, said the agency gives extra attention to conditions in Mexico "due to the number of USA citizens who travel there and the difference between the different areas".

The latest advisory threatens to further hurt Mexican tourism, a $20 billion industry accounting for about 7% of the country's GDP.

The newly indicated no-travel states have for some time seen foreign tourist outflow.

Popular Mexico travel destinations like Cancún, the Mayan Riviera, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit, and Mexico City remain free of travel restrictions, Mexico's tourism secretariat said in a statement, according to TIME.

"I'm very respectful of what the State Department has to do. what I'm saying is those numbers aren't necessarily to be considered for tourism purposes because they're describing (a different) situation", he told The Dallas Morning News.

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