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Is Cancun safe for holidaymakers?

27th December 2017


Cancun has become an exceptionally popular destination for British tourists in recent years, but despite a boom in tourism, the Mexican resort is still experiencing severe problems, including issues surrounding food poisoning, fake alcohol, violence and sexual assault. In this article, we're going to look into some of the incidents that tour operators aren't being particularly vocal about, including advice on what to do if the worst happens.


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Fake alcohol being served in Cancun

A tragedy was reported by American news outlet Fox News in July when a young woman from Wisconsin was found face-down in a pool at the Iberostar Paraiso del Mar in Playa del Carmen with her siblings. Although her siblings were revived, she was declared brain dead and died a few days later. Although there was a suggestion that their drinks were spiked, concerns arose that they were the victims of bootleg alcohol.

In August, Time reported that 10,000 gallons of tainted alcohol were seized from Mexican resorts, noting that an illicit manufacturer had been identified as supplying tourist attractions throughout the Cancun and Playa del Carmen region. This put the patrons of 31 resorts, nightclubs and restaurants at risk and resulted in subsequent raids.

Fake alcohol can be very detrimental to your health and reports around the time stated that people had been blacking out from drinking only small amounts of the illicit alcohol. Concerningly, the aforementioned article in Time references a report from Euromonitor International that states that up to 26% of all alcohol consumed in Mexico is illegal.

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What to do if you suspect fake alcohol

If you believe that fake alcohol is being served at your resort, it's vital that you don't risk drinking it. Even small amounts can have an adverse effect on your health, and there can be serious consequences for drinking larger quantities.

Inform your holiday representative of your suspicions. If you get sick on an all-inclusive package holiday, they could be liable, meaning that they should take immediate steps to investigate and if necessary address the issue.

Recent problems with violence in Cancun

Cancun and other parts of Mexico are known to have a problem with violence, notably gun and gang-related crimes. In 2016, news outlets such as Global News reported on a Canadian photographer who was strangled to death in Cancun, and The Yucatan Times commented on multiple gunshots being fired in the nightclub area of Punta Cancún.

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Tragedy struck the Cancun area again in January when The Yucatan Times reported that 5 people were killed (later increased to 6) and 15 were wounded following a shooting at a Playa del Carmen nightclub.

In March, a potentially gang-related incident transpired when a human head was found along with a threatening message, although The Yucatan Times article didn't specify the nature of the threat and whether or not it was directed at tourists.

Unfortunately, such instances of criminal activity can spill over into popular resorts. In July, Bloomberg reported that "Mexico's drug war is encroaching on the country's once quiet vacation hotspots", showing pictures of armed police patrolling beaches.

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TripAdvisor removes review about sexual assault

As recently as this November, the New York Times produced an article which detailed how the user-driven review website TripAdvisor had to apologise to a woman from Texas whose review that detailed how she had been raped by a security guard had been removed.

Aside from highlighting an issue with TripAdvisor censoring users, this article highlights a problem with sexual assault in a popular holiday destination that isn't being widely reported, and that holidaymakers may not be being warned by tour operators.

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Some tips on staying safe in Cancun

Although there are no guarantees, there are steps that you can take to increase your safety abroad. Speak with your tour operator representative about areas of Cancun that are safe for tourists. Even if you explore beyond these areas, knowing where they are may be beneficial if you find yourself in a situation where you feel threatened.

Avoid travelling on your own or try not to stray too far from other groups of tourists, as they may be able to help you if you're in danger. It's also advisable to keep a charged and usable mobile phone with you for emergencies, ensuring that you are able to contact someone who can help you at short notice.

If you've been affected by violence or assault in Cancun, speak to the police and if you feel comfortable to do so, inform your tour operator of the problem and try to speak to someone at the British Consulate General Cancun. By reporting any potentially illegal or threatening activity, processes can be put in place that may prevent other holidaymakers from being affected.

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What you need to know about Cyclospora in Mexico

We've helped large numbers of holidaymakers claim compensation after contracting Cyclospora at all-inclusive hotels in Mexico, and unfortunately for those who choose to travel there, Cyclospora in Mexico appears to be an on-going problem.

Cyclospora in Mexico

The Cyclospora parasite is usually spread through water contaminated with human faecal matter, often via the irrigation of fresh fruits and vegetables, but also through cleaning them in contaminated water. Once produce has been contaminated, it's difficult to make it safe to eat, especially in instances when produce such as mint is used in a mojito.

Once contracted, Cyclospora can result in symptoms of diarrhoea, nausea, stomach cramps, bloating, fatigue, increased gas, and a loss of appetite and weight loss. To put it simply, Cyclospora can bring your holiday enjoyment crashing to a halt.

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Avoid Cyclospora and get help if you're diagnosed

Cyclospora is difficult to avoid, meaning that you're reliant on your tour operator ensuring that your hotel has an effective hygiene processes in place to prevent you from getting sick.

If you suffer a stomach illness in Mexico, we recommend asking a medical practitioner to test you for it. Cyclospora usually requires a specific stool sample test, but it can be treated with the appropriate antibiotics if it's identified.

If you're diagnosed with Cyclospora on an all-inclusive package holiday, contact a member of our travel law team, because you may be entitled to claim compensation from your tour operator.

How to claim compensation

We can provide you with a free consultation during which we can assess your case and advise you if you're able to make a 'no win no fee' compensation claim. There's no obligation to proceed with a claim once we've assessed your case, but by contacting us; we can advise you if it's an avenue that you should pursue.

Alice Hellewell - Paralegal, Holiday Claims

Contact us for free no-obligation holiday illness claims advice

To find out more about claiming compensation; contact Alice Hellewell by filling in our enquiry form and we will call you back, or call us directly on 0808 145 1353.

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