Heading South? Be Safe

Monday, February 12, 2007

  • Getting away from this?

    Getting away from this?

Written by May Warren

Although they may be staying inside to beat the cold this week, by next week many University of Guelph students will be heading somewhere warm and toasty down south for winter break. However, in the wake of a string of violent incidents involving Canadian travelers in Mexico, and heightened regulations requiring passports for travel, it may be a little more stressful then usual this year.

The shooting of two middle aged Canadian travelers in Acapulco last week, coupled with the death of 19-year-old Adam DePrisco, who died after attending a Mexican night club, last month, has prompted calls for a travel advisory to the area. So far the government has only issued a travel report, although Foreign Affairs Minister Peter McKay says he is investigating the issue.
A press release on Canadian Consular Affair’s website offers several safety trips for those still planning to make a trip to Mexico, cautioning Canadians to be especially careful around areas known for drug trafficking and related violence.

“While Canadians have not been specific targets of crime, they are urged to be aware of safety concerns when visiting these areas, ” it reads.

More generally, the report also cautions that any travelers to Southern resorts should avoid taking food or drink from strangers and walking alone at
night. “There have been cases of drugging followed by robbery and assault, including sexual assault. Unpatrolled beaches and unpopulated areas should be avoided, especially after dark,” it says.

It also warns against withdrawing large sums of cash from ATMs on the street and accepting help from police officers who look suspicious. “There have been instances of tourists becoming victims of theft, extortion or sexual assault by persons who may or may not be police officers. Some criminals pose as plainclothes police officers and ask to see foreign currency and passports.”

When participating in water sports at resorts, travelers should be aware that equipment and training levels of supervisors might not be up to Canadian standards. This applies particularly to scuba diving, mopeds, parasailing, and jet-skis.

Canadian Consulate Affairs is also adamant that passports be carried at all times, especially now that they are required for all entry into the United States by air, even if by transit. Students should also be prepared for increased airport security and long line ups at airports. However, several Caribbean nations still do not require passports for short stays, they include: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Dominica, and Jamaica.

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