International passenger traffic to Mexico's largest resort has climbed since the U.S. State Department's Aug. 22 travel warning. It rose 6.3 percent in November from a year earlier and has increased more than 8 percent this year, according to the regional airport's operator.
Without a doubt, some of the news coming out of Mexican beach towns this year has been grim. Innocent bystanders in Quintana Roo, where Cancun is located, and some other Mexican destinations have been caught up in shooting battles between criminal gangs, the U.S. advisory noted. Five people died in January at a nightclub in Playa del Carmen near Cancun.
But such warnings are "not top of mind" for people just looking to relax, Drusch said. Quintana Roo receives about 10 million tourists a year and accounts for a third of Mexico's international visitors.
With all the news about mass shootings and racial tension in the U.S. this year, Mexico's neighbor to the north seems just as dangerous, Vancouver resident Clark MacPherson said. The golf pro was trying to decide between Cancun, Nashville, Tennessee, or the Carolinas for his recent honeymoon. Because of all the "terrifying incidents" in the U.S. recently, Mexico "seemed like the safer option," he said.
Carriers expanding flights to the region in recent months include Southwest, which in November announced two new seasonal routes to the Mexican resort town from Pittsburgh and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, and deep discounter Spirit, which is adding year-round service from Baltimore/Washington and Chicago. Delta this month added a third daily flight from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to Cancun, and added another flight from Boston.