February 8, 2023

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Specialists Travel & Tours

Cancun travel advisory: State Department issues warning to US travelers heading to Mexico

The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico have issued a new warning to visitors of Cancun and the Mexican state of Quintana Roo over a potential conflict between taxi drivers and ride-hailing service companies.

Medallion taxi drivers have been attacking ride-hailing service drivers as they battle over lucrative tourist rides. Unfortunately, passengers have been caught in the middle.

“Official complaints against Uber and other drivers do occur … and past disputes between these services and local taxi unions have occasionally turned violent, resulting in injuries to U.S. citizens in some instances,” the warning reads.

On Monday, taxi drivers blocked Kukulcán Boulevard — one of the main roads to the hotel district in Cancun — forcing some passengers to walk or even get police escorts.

Taxi drivers are reportedly furious over a court ruling earlier this month that allows Uber to operate in Quintana Roo without a public transport license. In 2021, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that Uber is not a public transportation company, so it doesn’t have to comply with the same regulations as taxi drivers. This infuriated taxi drivers, who face higher costs because they are considered public transportation.

Several social media videos show confrontations between taxi drivers and ride-hailing service drivers and their passengers.

It’s not the first time this kind of transportation competition has led to protests. In 2016, there were nationwide strikes in France by taxi unions over the entry of app-based ride services into the market. Those protests turned violent and effectively shut down Paris.

More recently, taxi protests against ride-hailing services like Uber shut down parts of Barcelona.

There have also been large-scale protests against app-based, ride-hailing companies in Belgium, Italy, and several U.S. cities, including Denver.

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If you are headed to tourist areas of Mexico, there are other options to get around. The Cancun Sun has some good suggestions.

For example, if you are looking to get around inside the tourist zone in Cancun, there are cheap buses and shuttles. If you’re heading to the Hotel Zone, you can book a private car or van via Expedia or Viator for as little as $30. While it can sometimes be a little pricier, you can also communicate directly with your hotel for the best transportation suggestions at this time.

The State Department had already issued a travel advisory for Mexico based on crime. “In light of widely publicized security incidents in popular tourist destinations, please remember that all destinations have some level of risk,” the advisory reads.

It also suggests visitors review personal security plans, be aware of their surroundings, pay attention to local media and immediately call Mexican 911 in case of any issues.

The Quintana Roo Tourism Board also has a “Guest Assist App” for free download. The app supplies safety information, legal advice, a complaint line, COVID-19 information and access to a 24/7 bilingual call center for visitor assistance.

Quintana Roo Guest Assist app. QUINTANA ROO TOURISM BOARD