As millions of Americans prepare to descend on one of Mexico’s top tourist destinations ahead of the spring break season, travelers may want to think twice about their local transportation options: Uber vs. taxis.
Uber was recently reintroduced in Cancun after a court ruled in January that the ride-sharing app could operate after taxi drivers essentially drove it out after it was first introduced in 2016.
But tensions over sharing the roads have not subsided and in recent weeks taxi drivers have been aggressive and violent towards Uber drivers, their vehicles and even their passengers.
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Frustrated travelers have since taken to social media to show how rude cabbies are, with some suggesting their actions have prompted tourists to “boycott” Cancun’s taxi services.
The US State Department issued an advisory for Americans traveling to Mexico in January after several reports of harassment and assaults were issued.
In January cabbies blocked the main road leading to Cancun’s hotel district, forcing tourists to walk for miles or catch up with drivers on the other side of the blockade.
The Associated Press even reported that a police escort was forced to shuttle people to the airport to catch their flights.
Several Cancun taxi drivers have been arrested for their hostile actions since January, and in February alone, around 60 drivers were fined for violating the “Zero Tolerance” rule of the Andres Quintana Roo Taxi Drivers Union – a policy implemented to go down on a cabbie attack, the Cancun Sun reported.
Cabs are now required to attend method-based training sessions to improve their interactions with tourists. To ensure a pleasant trip when visiting Cancun this year, one leading travel agency told Fox News Digital that they recommend avoiding cabbie or Uber options.
It is reported that the program will focus on issues related to labor regulations and service quality as well as communication and empathy with passengers. Ultimately, the course aims to not only give drivers the tools they need when dealing with passengers but will focus on rebuilding standards for passengers.
“We recommend travelers to contract transportation through non-shared travel services, such as official airport taxis or licensed tour operators / travel agencies, to avoid delays and inconvenience until the situation is stabilized,” Zachary Rabinor, founder and CEO of Journey Mexico , said.
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“We often get the question of whether Mexico [or the] Cancun/Riviera Maya is safe,” he said. “The US State Department specifically noted that there are no restrictions in the state of Quintana Roo. However, they are advised to exercise increased awareness of conditions after dark as you would anywhere in the world.”
The State Department did not return Fox News Digital’s request for comment, although the department advised Americans to check the status of where they are traveling to in Mexico and follow its guidance.
“Application-based car services such as Uber and Cabify are available in many Mexican cities, and generally provide a safe alternative to taxis,” the department noted. “However, 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 US citizens in some cases.”
“Given the widely publicized security incidents in popular tourist destinations, please remember that all destinations have some level of risk,” the department said. “Be aware of your surroundings and keep a low profile.”
Last year, about 5.6 million Americans traveled to the Mexican Caribbean, and those figures are expected to rise even more in 2023.
Americans don’t have the same security issues to the Quintana Roo region, where Cancun is located, as other regions like the states of Guerro or Sinaloa, which are listed on the State Department’s red flag “do not travel” areas.
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The Quintana Roo region falls under the Department’s second-tier yellow flag advisory, which suggests that Americans “Exercise Increased Caution” when traveling to these regions – mainly due to crime and kidnapping cases.
Although as Rabinor said, nations such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas also fall under this same classification.
Another expert on tourist safety in Mexico, Stephanie Farr, founder and CEO of Maya Luxe, agreed that Cancun in particular “is considered very safe” for American tourists.
Farr said her advice when hitting the top tourist destinations around Mexico is to take general safety precautions, especially when going out at night. These include staying in a group, keeping tabs on each other, not drinking too much, and keeping valuables like passports at the hotel or resort—recommendations that also apply to Cancun.
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“Our biggest and most emphasized recommendation is to avoid any drug-related activities, and this will keep any tourist generally safe,” she said. “Furthermore, we also recommend not drinking too much and being aware of your surroundings. Tourists are at risk because of petty theft.”
“We always say it’s up to the traveler how much they want to expose themselves to any danger. With a few precautions and common sense, travelers can have a safe and enjoyable trip,” Farr said.