Americans flock to Mexico destinations, Cancun cabbies cause trouble for spring break plans

Americans flock to Mexico destinations, Cancun cabbies cause trouble for spring break plans

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With millions of Americans gearing up for one of Mexico’s top travel destinations ahead of the spring break season, travelers may want to think twice when it comes to their local transportation options. Uber and taxis.

Uber was recently reintroduced in Cancún after a court ruled in January that it could operate after it was essentially driven out by taxi drivers after it was first introduced in 2016.

Tensions over shared roads have not subsided, however, and taxi drivers have taken aggressive and violent actions against Uber drivers, their vehicles and even their passengers in recent weeks.

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Frustrated travelers have since taken to social media to show how unruly taxi drivers have become, with some saying their behavior has prompted tourists to “boycott” taxi services in Cancun.

The State Department issued a warning to Americans traveling to Mexico in January because of several reports of harassment and assault.

Taxi drivers blocked the main road leading into Cancun’s hotel zone in January, forcing tourists to either walk for miles or catch a driver on the other side of the blockade.

The Associated Press even reported that police escorts were forced to drive people to the airport to catch their flights.

Since January, several Cancún taxi drivers have been arrested for their hostile actions. In February alone, some 60 drivers were fined for violating the “zero tolerance” rules enforced by the André Quintana Roo taxi drivers’ union, the Cancun Sun newspaper reported. It was implemented to crack down on the aggression of taxi drivers.

Taxi drivers are now required to attend manner-based training sessions to improve their interactions with tourists. To ensure a pleasant trip when visiting Cancun this year, a top travel agency advises avoiding taxi drivers or Uber.

The course will reportedly focus on issues related to labor regulations and quality of service, as well as communication and empathy with passengers. Ultimately, the course will not only be designed to give drivers the tools they need when dealing with passengers, but will focus on rebuilding standards for passengers.

“We recommend travelers sign up with a non-rideshare service such as an official airport taxi or a licensed tour operator/travel agency,” said Zachary Rabinor, founder and CEO of Mexico Tours. Shipping to avoid delay and inconvenience until the situation stabilizes.

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“We get a lot of questions about whether Mexico [or] Cancun/Riveramaia is safe,” he added. “The U.S. State Department specifically states that there are no restrictions in Quintana Roo. However, they do recommend being more aware of the situation after dark, as you would anywhere in the world.”

The State Department did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment, though the department advised Americans to check the status of the places they travel in Mexico and follow its guidance.

“App-based car services such as Uber and Cabify are available in many Mexican cities and generally offer a safe alternative to taxis,” the department noted.

“However, official complaints against Uber and other drivers do occur, and disputes between these services and local taxi unions have sometimes turned violent, in some cases resulting in injuries to U.S. citizens.

“Given the widely publicized security incidents in popular tourist destinations, please bear in mind that all destinations carry some level of risk,” the department added. “Be aware of your surroundings and keep a low profile.”

Some 5.6 million Americans traveled to the Mexican Caribbean last year, and those numbers are expected to climb further in 2023.
Americans traveling to the state of Quintana Roo, where Cancun is located, do not face the same security concerns as other areas, such as the states of Guerrero or Sinaloa, which are included in the State Department’s “no travel” red flag areas.

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The state of Quintana Roo falls under the department’s second level of yellow flag warning, advising Americans to “be vigilant” when traveling to the area — mainly due to incidents of crime and kidnapping.

Countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas also fall into this classification, though Rapinoe points out.

Another expert on travel safety in Mexico, Maya Luxe founder and CEO Stephanie Farr, agreed that Cancun, in particular, is “generally considered very safe” for American tourists.

Farr said her advice is to take general safety precautions when traveling to top Mexican destinations, especially when going out at night. Those measures include staying in a group, keeping tabs on each other, not drinking to excess and leaving valuables like passports in hotels or resorts, and the recommendations also apply in Cancun.

“Our biggest and most emphatic advice is to avoid any drug-related activity, which will generally keep any visitor safe,” she said. “Additionally, we advise against excessive alcohol consumption and to be aware of their surroundings. Drunk tourists make easy targets for petty theft.”

“We always say it depends on how much the tourist wants to expose themselves to any hazard. With some precautions and common sense, tourists can have a safe and enjoyable trip,” Farr said.