She’s heard the warning about travelling to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and has listened to all the expressions of concern from family and friends.
But Cindy Watton of St. John’s is not fazed and has no intention of changing her vacation plans to go there in May.
“It doesn’t bother me at all,” she said about the alerts. “My husband’s daughter said, ‘Are you guys crazy?’ I’m not a bit crazy. I’m not getting this stop us from going…
“I’ve got the nerve of a toothache.”
The Canadian government issued a safety and security warning earlier this week for travellers visiting the popular coastal resort town, located along the Yucatán Peninsula’s Riviera Maya strip of Caribbean shoreline. The notice tells people “to exercise a high degree of caution in Playa del Carmen” and avoid taking tourist ferries.
According to media reports, the advisory points out that the United States issued an alert on Wednesday warning American citizens that there was a security threat in the town.
It comes in the wake of an explosion last month on a tourist ferry in Playa del Carmen that injured more than 20 people.
Another explosive device was found on a ferry last week, but did not detonate.
For many, the notice comes at a bad time, as many are gearing up for spring break vacations.
Watton doesn’t plan to go on any excursions involving ferry rides, but said the warning won’t slow her down.
“There’s a threat no matter where you go these days — Vegas, Chicago, Boston, London,” said Watton, whose trip to Mexico with her husband, Calvin, will be their fourth in five years.
“We have always felt very safe there. It’s like going to George Street — there are always lots of police and cameras around…
“We’ve been to a lot of places, but we absolutely love Mexico — the people, the food and place … and no one hassles you to buy things like they do in other (southern destinations).”
Watton wasn’t even bothered by an incident during one of her trips to Mexico a few years ago, when armed Mexican police officers stopped and boarded their tour bus, which was on the way back from an excursion to the Mayan ruins.
“They were obviously looking for someone,” she said, “but once they saw this person wasn’t on the bus, we were off again. It really was not a big deal.”
Kayla Gavin of Mount Pearl, a travel consultant with Travel Professionals International, said she has been contacted by a few concerned clients from a group heading to Playa del Carmen in six weeks.
However, she said there’s no need to panic, as the travel alerts are intended to caution travellers, not scare them.
“Our jobs as agents is to get ahead of it with clients so they’re not reading about it online and make their own assumptions,” she said. “It’s important to realize that when you do read a travel advisory that you actually read it. Most times it’s just asking you to exercise a high degree of caution, not to avoid travel.”
Gavin’s advice to travellers is to be vigilant and aware of your surroundings.
When heading outside your resort, ensure it’s with a trusted tourism supplier, she said. She recommends pre-booking excursions with travel agents. She’s telling clients that if they’re nervous they should avoid the ferry in Playa del Carmen for now.
“We, Newfoundlanders, are so friendly and we expect people to be nice all the time. It’s so easy for us to forget to keep an eye on our surroundings. It’s no different than walking through downtown Toronto,” said Gavin, who added Mexico is a fabulous country to explore.
For added protection, she also advises people travelling outside the country to register at travel.gc.ca, where travellers can leave information that can help the Canadian consulate easily contact them in case of an emergency.
Mexico tends to make the news with travel alerts more than other destinations, but Gavin said safety should always be first and foremost in travellers’ minds wherever they go.