The State Department's travel warnings could be a source of interesting research. Given the importance of tourism, for example, how much do they deter Americans from going to particular countries?
In this context, the State Department just revised its travel warning for Mexico. It goes state by state with an unflinching and detailed look at violence.
Nevertheless, U.S. travelers should be aware that the Mexican government has been engaged in an extensive effort to counter TCOs which engage in narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout Mexico. The TCOs themselves are engaged in a violent struggle to control drug trafficking routes and other criminal activity. As a result, crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country and can occur anywhere. U.S. citizens have fallen victim to TCO activity, including homicide, gun battles, kidnapping, carjacking and highway robbery.
According to the most recent homicide figures published by the Mexican government, 47,515 people were killed in narcotics-related violence in Mexico between December 1, 2006 and September 30, 2011, with 12,903 narcotics-related homicides in the first nine months of 2011 alone. While most of those killed in narcotics-related violence have been members of TCOs, innocent persons have also been killed. The number of U.S. citizens reported to the Department of State as murdered in Mexico increased from 35 in 2007 to 120 in 2011.
On its face, this would not appear to be too good for tourism. People already hear all kinds of news stories, often exaggerated, but this is the government talking. So are would-be tourists affected?
It's debatable. The Mexican government reported that it hosted more foreign tourists in December 2011 than ever before. This has included a 10 percent increase in Americans visiting. The government expects a surge this year, since apparently people don't mind potential violence as long as they get a chance to experience the end of the world.